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I came down the stairs with my shoulders slumped and my head lowered. I was tired and done with the day.

My husband was preparing to leave, he had an emergency at work and he could not wait until the morning to handle it. I walked up to him and I must have looked defeated because he pulled me in for a hug and asked what’s wrong. I pulled away and started to open the dishwasher and I said, “I don’t want to do this.”

What I wanted was an hour to myself, what I wanted was to watch This Is Us, the ONLY television show I watch for me. I wanted an hour of not doing dishes or laundry or anything other than sitting down and enjoying something for myself.

I felt guilty for my thoughts but voiced them anyway. I said, “I haven’t had an hour to myself in two weeks and I’m behind on watching This Is Us.” I felt selfish as soon as the words left my mouth because the truth is he hasn’t had an hour to himself either. Truth is, we both clamber around night after night picking up toys, doing dishes, washing bottles, and packing lunches. We are BOTH tired every night.

My husband hugged me and said, “I will get up early in the morning and I will clean all this.” By saying I want an hour to myself meant my husband would be losing an hour. I knew he was just as tired as I was. I knew setting his alarm an hour earlier in the morning was going to be hard after getting in late tonight from work. I rebutted, but he told me to sit down and enjoy my show and he was out the door.

I fought the urge to stay in that space and clean it, I fought the guilt that my husband would be setting his alarm an hour early so he could clean this mess while I enjoyed time to myself that he doesn’t get. I turned the light out and walked out of the kitchen, sat on the couch and enjoyed an hour to myself catching up with the Pearsons.

I realized this is what marriage is, it’s what marriage should be. My husband put my needs before his own, he took one for the team so the team could keep on winning.

He easily could have said different words, words I likely would have used if the situation had been reversed. He could have said, “I know you don’t want to clean this up alone, but I have to go and we won’t have time in the morning.”

My husband planted a seed in my heart of sacrificial love by doing something that was convenient for me but inconvenient for him.

A few days later, my husband walked in the house from working outside until dark. I was in the kitchen packing lunches for the next day—barefoot in my pajamas—when my husband said, “Will you come outside with me?”

At that second I wanted to say, “No, I am in the middle of doing something, I am in my pajamas with peanut butter sandwiches in my hands, of course I do not want to go outside right now.”

At first, my mind trickled to the selfishness of not wanting to make the effort to stop what I was doing to put on shoes and a jacket and go outside.

But I remembered my husband’s act of love a few days earlier so instead of saying no, I smiled and set down the peanut butter, slipped on shoes and a jacket, and walked out into the cold in my pajamas even though I didn’t want to.

I did something inconvenient because the seed was planted a few days ago when my husband did something for me that he didn’t want to.

He said, “Look up over the house.” I looked up and saw the clearest, most incredible star-filled sky. The moon was spectacularly bright and pure white. It was the first clear sky in months and it truly was one of the most breathtaking night skies I had ever witnessed. I looked over at my husband and his head was lifted, his eyes to the sky, and his face was in awe.

We stood there a moment just taking it in, our breath visible in the dark. He grabbed my hand to hold and we just looked up in amazement at the night’s beauty. After a few minutes, we walked back into the house to resume our night.

In marriage, if we plant little seeds of sacrifice—seeds of saying yes when we want to say no; seeds of serving when we would prefer to be served; seeds of selflessness when we would rather be selfish—we will grow love into action.

Each action will snowball into another and another.

I have thought about the bits of resentment and hurt that could have been planted if we had chosen selfishness over selflessness.

What if my husband walked out the door that night and left me tired and worn to clean up that mess alone?

I wonder what seeds of hurt I would have planted in my husband if I had said, “No, can’t you see I am busy?” when he asked me to come outside with him.

I wonder how weedy our marriage would be if we stopped planting those little seeds of sacrificial love?

Love in action is putting on shoes late at night to hold your husband’s hand in the driveway and gaze at the night sky.

Love is showing with your actions that you choose to bring joy to someone else.

Love is when we sacrificially act instead of selfishly stay idle.

Love is an action that says without words, I put you first.

I wonder what other beautiful moments I might miss in this life if I stop putting others first.

I don’t want to miss a single one.

This post originally appeared on the author’s Facebook page, Faithfully Failing

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Stacey Tadlock

Stacey Tadlock is working wife, mother, photographer, writer, and cleft and infertility awareness advocate. She is married to her college sweetheart and they have two daughters. Stacey is the writer and creator behind Faithfully Failing where she provides encouragement through scripture and life lessons for those times in life you feel like you are failing in faith, marriage, or motherhood. She hopes through her words women are reminded that no matter your failures God’s grace covers it all. Every day is a new day to glorify Him and a new day to conquer yesterday’s failure with His unyielding grace

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