barista

She likes it hot. Her coffee that is. Every morning at 6:30 am, her alarm clock goes off and she hits the snooze button. At 6:33 I attempt to gently shake her out of her stupor with the burring sound of grinding coffee. In just four short minutes, her enthusiasm to get out of bed will grow. It’s how she wakes up, and I love seeing it happen.

Smelling the aroma of the freshly ground beans, monitoring the temperature of the water, getting the press ready, it’s part of my routine now. We like our coffee different than many. We use raw honey for sweetener, no milk or cream, just a really good medium local roast of something complex, nutty and chocolatey. Just writing those words tempts me to go get a third cup for the morning, but I’ll restrain until these words are completely on paper. I often make coffee my reward for completing another task for the day. Yes, I bribe myself with coffee. It works.

Let me tell you what doesn’t work though- bribing my wife with coffee, or any other form of service for that matter. Making her coffee in the mornings is a form of self-service, hardly a form of self-sacrifice, and definitely not a form of selfishness.  Did you catch that? I firmly believe there is a difference between serving selflessly versus serving selfishly. Selfish serving looks for reciprocation for one’s actions. Selfless serving looks for the reward of pleasing another. In other words, a person who gives out of selfish motivation keeps score- I have given, now it’s your turn. Selfless giving looks to bring joy to others, and in doing so, your own joy is increased.

Like a good cup of coffee, this concept is complex. If you just want the benefit of caffeine, any old stank coffee will do. My grandfather was my hero growing up. But he was no aficionado of coffee or romance. He was a Sanka-guy, both literally and figuratively. True marital investment takes time, care, and intentionality. The result is a much better tasting cup of coffee.  But your palette must be trained for it. Let me make this analogy clear, you may not treat your relationship with your spouse like you treat your morning brew, but next time you make a cup, ask yourself how much of the analogy sticks?

Do you treat your spouse like a cup of instant coffee? Hot, ready, lacking depth, just need the benefits fast?

Are you an “a little bit of coffee with your sugar” kind of guy? You don’t really like the full flavor of a deep engaging conversation with your spouse, you like it sugar-coated and masked with artificial flavoring.

Do you treat your coffee better than you treat your spouse? You only use water filtered by reverse-osmosis, you measure your beans to the exact gram and your water to the perfect temperature? You only slightly agitate, you’re patient with the process, because whether you’re into pour over, french-press, cold-brew, or pulling espresso shots, you know there’s something good on the other side. Whatever your brew-type, you have grown to enjoy the process  almost as much as the outcome. Do you put that much care into an 8oz cup that will be consumed in a short period of time, but despise the process of measuring your thoughts and words towards your spouse? If so, you should start drinking lukewarm instant coffee just to know what she feels like.

Maybe coffee isn’t your thing at all. I imagine that if that’s the case, but you’ve read this far, the analogy continues to resonate. Ask yourself, what do you invest much care in that you could and should invest in your spouse in a like-wise manner? 

Bible Reference: Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Written by Dee Lanier.

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