To Have and to Hold

The distorted sound of a man’s voice cut through the low hum of the electrical room as we lifted a server into position in the rack.

“Set it back down,” José said. “I’ve got to take this.”

We lowered the server back into its box, then José quickly grabbed the phone from his back pocket and stepped out of the room.

The distorted voice turned out to have been his own. He had recorded a personalized ringtone that announced, “Happy wife, happy life! Answer the phone; it’s your wife!” When José returned, I asked him about the ringtone.

“I’m not just a computer guy. I also preach at my church once a month,” he said, “and a while back I gave a message on having a strong marriage. When I was preparing the message, my wife said I should include some practical advice, like always answering the phone when your spouse calls. Now, I don’t always catch on this quickly, but I figured out that if she felt like this was practical advice all couples could benefit from, then she thought we could benefit from that advice, too. So I make sure I answer when she calls no matter what I’m doing. Because if I do this right, she’s the only wife I’ll ever have, and I plan to keep her for a long, long time.”

Legal Documents

(Legal) Terms of Endearment

José understood the concept of “to have and to hold.” The phrase has its origins in the law, referring to the transfer of property, and meaning to receive the property and to retain possession of it thereafter. José had acquired a wife on his wedding day, and he intended to retain “possession” of her from that day forward.

In a marriage, of course – and men, if this isn’t obvious to you, we’ve got a lot of work to do – our wives are not actually our property. Recall that our wives also acquired us as husbands that day with full rights to retain “possession” of us. So a married couple is bound together, but they don’t own each other in quite the same way a person owns an inanimate piece of property. Once the wedding is over, we “have” each other; “hold”-ing each other takes a lifetime of (mostly enjoyable) work.

The Goal of Marriage

A wise man once said, “The goal of marriage should be to out-serve one another.” When we approach married life with an attitude of service, when we work to find ways of making our wives’ days a little easier or happier in any way we can, we are investing in a happy life for ourselves as well. Whether that investment means always answering the phone when they call, whether it means tackling any household projects without complaint, or whether it just means intentionally coming home on time every day, working to serve our wives well helps ensure that we get to “hold” them from now on.


Do you agree with the idea that “the goal of marriage should be to out-serve one another?” Why or why not? What are some ways you can try to “out-serve” your wife this week? Leave me some ideas in the comments.

1 comment

  1. David Mike

    Yes, I agree!

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