Giving without cost
“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Matthew 10:8
This verse, a new favorite, has been cycling in my mind over the last few months and it just popped up again. I always think about it in terms of marriage and relationships; how easy it is as times to “keep score” and forget the value of selfless love. Do I give in my marriage “without cost”? While I’m certain I fail in this task repeatedly, it’s something I strive to do daily - selfless giving and loving. I started thinking about this verse through the experiences of the couples I work with. What gets in the way of these couples giving without cost? What stops them from this type of selfless and sacrificial love in their marriages? One problem is by the time they reach my office, there’s usually years of built up disconnection and relationship trauma. So how does disconnection and trauma get in the way of husbands and wives giving without cost?
No one sets out to be married thinking, “I want to give as little love as possible”. We fall in love and we love big; we tell our lovers we’ll do anything for them and we mean it. We give without cost. So how do things get so off track when the cost of giving becomes too high? When marriages undergo repeated seasons of disconnection or relationship traumas, it breaks down a couples’ sense of feeling and being securely attached. No longer is there a confident feeling that they can depend on one another, feel safe in each other’s arms, and of being loved unconditionally. There’s a risk present that may not have been present before - “if I love big, I might get hurt big”. This insecure attachment can make it really risky to reach for your partner, as well as to accept your partner’s reach. Without this secure connection - reaching, accepting, and giving without cost can leave you hurt by your partner or building up a wall of resentment. There are also times that, regardless of your desire to connect, your body won’t let you lower your guard, as the need to self-protect is great.
So does this mean that insecurely attached couples shouldn’t or can’t give without cost? Of course not, it just means that there needs to be a greater emphasis on strengthening the marital connection. If your goal is selfless and sacrificial love, strengthening the love in the marriage sure would make the sacrifice part easier! We’ve heard the saying, “no risk, no reward”. The same is true in marriages. If we don’t take risks to heal our disconnection and relationship traumas, we won’t be able to experience the rewards of a fulfilling marriage, in getting that big love back. When we take risks in sharing our fears of getting hurt again, in vulnerably sharing any resentments and feelings of being alone or unwanted, we have an opportunity to experience the reward of our partner leaning in and responding in a healing and connecting way.
Giving without cost doesn’t mean we put blinders on our relationship and become martyrs; it means we acknowledge that some hard work may need to be done to strengthen the connection in our marriage. If we were created for connection, and God gives to us without cost, then shouldn’t we receive these graces to pour into our marriage? Shouldn’t we work to model the selfless and sacrificial love that Christ has for us, working to give to our spouse without cost?