THIS POST IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION – PLEASE CHECK BACK SOON TO SEE SOME AWESOME MARRIAGE TIPS!
Remember when you first started dating and all you wanted was to make the other person smile? For some reason, after time passes…we can forget that love has to be nourished and taken care of. Love, unless shown often, can have a short shelf life.
And no one likes moldy love.
One night several months ago I got frustrated with my husband. “Why am I always the first to tell you I love you every single night???” His classic response was, “I show you.” Although saying the words “I love you” are very important, I would much rather have a spouse that shows me that he loves me. And sadly, my husband is better at it than I am. He shows me in his kindness, he shows me with his time, and he shows me with his patience. So if you’ve gotten busy with day to day life and haven’t done much to cultivate your relationship, here are some ideas for how to show love (and mean it):
5 Ways to Show Love in a Relationship:
1. Investigate. Make it your goal to learn “new” things about your spouse or loved one. Figure out what makes them tick. Ask specific questions and actually listen when they are talking. What are their dreams? What are the little things that they live for? How can you help them reach their goals?
2. “As You Wish.” Remember on Princess Bride when he responds to all her requests with “As You Wish?” One of the hardest things to do in a relationship is to give up your own desires for someone else’s. But the irony is that it can also be the most fulfilling if done in love. It may seem like you are giving up your own happiness for theirs, but if done with the right heart you will gain more happiness.
3. Element of Surprise. After you have done your “investigating” from step one, surprise your spouse to let them know you’ve been paying attention. Is it her dream to go on a cruise? Has he been eying that soccer jersey for months now? And it doesn’t have to cost money either. Maybe you slip a note in their lunch about something you observed and appreciated about them the other day, or maybe you make his favorite dessert. I personally am a really difficult person to surprise. The times that my husband has been able to surprise me have totally been a success for making me feel loved.
4. Words of Affirmation. There are certain phrases that are really important to hear from that one person that you trust most in the world (See my post 100+ Words of Affirmation that Every Relationship Needs to Hear for some great ideas). Some of the most important ones include: “I love you,” “Thank you,” “I love it when…,” “how can I help?,” and the phrase almost every woman loves to hear: “You are beautiful!”
5. Respect. Relationships are tough, chances are you aren’t always going to like each other. There will be times when you feel love very strongly and there might be times when you wonder why you aren’t feeling anything at all. But you should always show respect. In my post on Fighting in marriage, I mention that it’s not how often you fight that determines the strength of a relationship, it’s HOW you fight. Never resort to name calling, or the silent treatment. Even if you feel your spouse has done you wrong, do not talk bad-mouth him or her to family or friends. When I was younger, my parents got divorced. I will always thank my mom for showing my dad respect even though she had been wronged. She always talked good of him around me and honored him as my dad (even when he may not have deserved it). Show your spouse respect always, and you will never have regrets.
There’s a few more things that could be added to the list, but my husband is waiting on me for a date night…and no one likes moldy love 🙂
Is there anything you would add to the list? How do you like to show love in your relationships?
I recently heard someone say that you must take care of your marriage like you would a living plant, or it will die.
I love that.
Marriages really do require daily upkeep if we want them to thrive. Sure, we could ignore the daily nourishing for a short period of time and the marriage may not END, but it certainly won’t be looking healthy. And it certainly won’t be as enjoyable. Last month I shared with you 1 Tip that Will Forever Change Your Marriage, but this month I want to share a few tips that have transformed others as well. Little acts…that have brought HUGE impact.
OREOS. Okay, you may be thinking I’m off my rocker. How do OREOS help a relationship? Well, for me it’s more what the oreos represent. I have a good friend who east Oreos with her husband Every.Single.Night. That’s right. EVERY night. They have six kids now. And they still eat oreos every night. Their kids never get to eat them with them, they know that they are “mom and dad’s oreos,” and every night after the kids go to bed, they eat oreos and talk about their day. For them, it’s an enjoyable way to connect with each other, and make sure that it happens daily. In fact, after awhile they made the word OREO represent something: Opportunity to Reconnect with Each Other. My husband and I thought up something similar, but we haven’t been as diligent as this couple. We had the idea to pick an area of the house that needed tidying, set a timer for 15 minutes, and to talk and enjoy each other’s company while we cleaned. Neither of these ideas have to be what you do…what matters is that you find an idea that works for YOUR relationship and you connect daily and take time to really talk: sincerely and openly.
LOVE LANGUAGES. I feel like this is mentioned a lot, but few people take the time to really understand it. Find a time when you and your spouse are alone together, and take the love language quiz! I promise, it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to test! When I was in high school I had to administer the quiz to a married couple as part of a homework assignment. The couple I chose had grown children and had been married for a long time! They later told my mom that taking the quiz (to help me with my “homework assignment”) had transformed their marriage. They understood each other so much better and they were finally showing love in the way their spouse wanted to be loved. Don’t be like this couple and wait 20 years to discover your spouse’s love language. And don’t just assume you know what it is! You may know their number ONE (and you may not), but oftentimes there is a love language that comes closely in second place. It’s important to show love using multiple love languages that your spouse has ranked high for.
Be the BEST detective. Don’t ever stop being a “detective” in your marriage. Study your spouse. Try to learn something new. Watch & observe and see what you can discover. It seems that when we were dating, we did everything to figure out everything about them: don’t let that stop while you are married. Make it a goal to discover something new every day. If you do, it will greatly impact the life and health of your marriage. This is especially important once kids come along. Us mothers are so good at trying to figure out our kids, that sometimes our husbands get less priority. Don’t let this happen! And if you don’t have kids yet, you might enjoy reading my reflections on Things I would do before getting pregnant.
See Things as They Are. Sometimes you can be taken away on a negative train if you let your thoughts focus on what your spouse isn’t. One thought leads to another, and before long you have a great list written up in your head of all the things your spouse could improve on. This is dangerous and sucks all the nutrients from your relationship.
When I was first married, I really struggled with the transition. I had been living with college roommates for the previous 4-5 years, and heartfelt pillow talk with some of my best friends was replaced with a husband that fell asleep within minutes of hitting his pillow. One thing that helped me tremendously through this time, was a notebook I entitled “Why I Love HIM.” It was a journal that I would write in every time I felt a negative thought or critical attitude start to creep in. I would write in a sentence or less, something that I loved about my husband. This helped shift my focus to “things as they really are” rather than things I wished he was. I would read over the accumulating list and feel gratitude for all the good things about him. Every time I read the list I was reminded how LUCKY I was to have him. There were pages of awesome things about him!
Once you write them down however, don’t stop there! TELL YOUR SPOUSE! Part of cultivating and awesome marriage is verbally complimenting the best things you see in him/her. If you’re looking for some meaningful ways to compliment your spouse, Check out this list: 100 words of affirmation to say to your spouse
I’m realizing I’ve gone beyond the “3 Tips” that I meant for this post to be.
Now it’s time to get ideas from YOU! What are some ways that you UPKEEP your relationship and contribute to an awesome marriage?