The Platinum Rule

My wife recently informed me that when I planned how we would celebrate her birthday I did “infinitely better than last year.” The astute reader may be asking two questions:
1. How badly did you do last year?
2. How well did you do this year?

Let us examine exhibit A.

How Badly Did I Do Last Year?

While I cannot certifiably prove that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the road to a bad birthday experience is paved with those good intentions. I am trained in logic, sets, and recursion, so I feel the need to lay out my internal logic.

1. Birthday = celebrate someone’s life
2. Celebrate someone’s life = let them do what they want to do
3. My instincts have proven unreliable in determining what my wife will want to do
ERGO I should let my wife plan her own birthday party by asking her, “But what do you want to do?”

If you don’t read the rest of the article, at least know that this is a terrible idea!!! I’ll explain why in a moment.

How Well Did I Do This Year?

This year I took a more active role. I proposed a double-date with some of our friends. I suggested some restaurants, though we eventually settled on one of my wife’s ideas. I arranged the details with our friends. I pestered everyone to finalize the plan so we could get reservations three days ahead of time. I suggested an activity she talks about doing but never has the time to do, and I stayed home with the toddler so she could do it.

With all of that said, the restaurant didn’t take reservations and didn’t seat us for 90 minutes. My wife ended up finding the babysitter for the night, choosing the restaurant, guiding our eventual dessert plan, and buying some stuff for me while she was doing that activity on her own.

How is this “infinitely better than last year?” Didn’t she effectively plan most of her birthday again? Didn’t my part of the plan go a little haywire?

What Does The Bible Say?

Let me lift up two key verses:

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. – Matthew 7:12 (NRSV)

Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband. – Ephesians 5:33 (NRSV)

The Matthew passage is often called “The Golden Rule.” The Ephesians passage is basically restating “The Golden Rule” for marriages. This often gets summarized as “treat others how you want to be treated.” But do you see the problem? Last year I thought the best way to celebrate a birthday was to let the person choose what they wanted to do. But my wife thought the best way to celebrate her birthday was to see her husband make plans and take initiative, even if she later wanted to change them or do something herself. She wanted me to show her I was thinking about her without being prompted.

The Platinum Rule

Let me give you “The Platinum Rule:” treat others how they want to be treated. Another way to say that: love your spouse how they want to be loved.

Does this conflict with what Jesus said? I don’t think so.

I want my wife to show love to me in a way that makes me feel loved, not just in a way that is easy for her. My wife wants me to show love to her in a way that makes her feel loved, not just in a way that makes sense to my logic, sets, and recursion brain.

I did “infinitely better than last year” because I spoke my wife’s love language, not my own. I took initiative to form a plan. That showed her I was thinking about her. I modified the plan based on the input she chose to give, and I did it happily. That showed her it wasn’t about me.

I want to treat my spouse how I want to be treated. I want to speak her love language because I want her to speak my love language. If you don’t know what I mean by love language, saunter on over or buy The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman.

Discussion Starters

  1. Have you ever done “infinitely better than last year” in something? What did you learn?
  2. How have you spoken your spouse’s love language instead of your own?