Marriage can be so simple and at other times so difficult. It is, by the way, involving two totally different people with different backgrounds, values, ways of doings things, etc. Marriage is like a Rubik Cube: when all the colors match up, it looks so easy! But with just one twist, the colors change, and boy is it hard to put it straight again.
So how do we keep our marriage strong, connecting and heading in the right direction? Some people believe that to make a good marriage you must have a date night weekly or take a trip together. And yes! These are wonderful. But what do we do with the other days? Just ignore your spouse until the date night comes? That’s silly. We need to connect daily. But how?
I believe with all my heart it’s with daily tiny and small steps. So, what are these steps? Here are five that I believe will work:
1. Touch Them.
Yep, another simple tip. But wait. When was the last time you touched him/her? And I’m not talking about what goes on between the sheets but when was the last time you touched just to touch? I will tell you that one touch will go a very long way in keeping you connected. How? Because we need to be loved and touched by other people.
Just because you may have sex sometime today or this week isn’t the issue. It’s reaching out when he gets home from work and giving a hug and a kiss. It’s giving a kiss when you see each other in the morning and maybe a hug too. It’s walking by his chair and touching the back of his shoulder or head with a soft touch. You don’t even have to say anything, but he will feel so loved. It’s walking into her office with a snack and then kissing her cheek or head. It’s holding hands in the car, when walking, when watching a movie or in church. It’s sitting next to each other while watching TV at home. It’s giving a massage even if you don’t know how to.
Yes, date nights are great! But every day, reach out to your spouse with a sweet touch, a smile and a big hug.
2. Be Kind.
Wow, that sounds so simple doesn’t it? But think about it. Being kind means not losing your temper. Not saying rude or critical remarks. Not putting your spouse down in front of others. Speaking kind words with a kind tone of voice. Understanding when they are tired, over worked. Doing their chores when they are too busy or tired. Affirming them to the children. Asking what they would like to do on their day off or where to go to dinner. Being kind enough to listen when they talk and engage with the conversation.
I heard a man say, “Well, I’d give my life for my wife!” and the wife answered back, “I really don’t need you to give your life…just empty the dishwasher sometimes!”
Yes, we need to just be kind to our spouse and do for them. Put a note in his lunch or suitcase with how much you love and appreciate him. Seek out ways you can be with them whether it’s cooking together, cleaning up together, talking a walk together. Our actions show our kindness.
3. Say Thank You.
I know some people think words are unimportant. But they are important, very important. In fact, God created the world and us with just His Words! So, when was the last time you said, “Thank you” to your spouse?
Well, you say, they are supposed to go to work or clean the house or take care of the kids or help with the check book – why should I say thank you to something they have to do anyway? Because when we say the magical words, Thank You, we are actually saying, “I respect you. I appreciate you and what you are giving of yourself to me and our life and our future. I see you and I want you to know that I see you and love all you do.” Say thank you to your spouse for working so hard, for giving you the free time you need for your hobby, for all he/she does for the family.
Taking each other for granted is that slippery slope that can happen so quickly in a marriage. Saying the words, “Thank You” helps to keep us from falling down that slope. And it’s such an easy thing to do! And also, never forget to say, “I love you.”
4. Be Present.
This means to be in the now, looking at their eyes as your talk. Yes, we try to be present when we are on a ‘date’. But each day, it means putting down the cell phone, the laptop, the newspaper or novel, turning the TV off or on mute. It means to ask about their day, what’s going on this week, how are the kids doing, how are your parents doing, when can we have some time together today? On a work day, most spouses only have a few hours they can spend together: from when they get home from work till bedtime. So take advantage of these few hours by being present.
I have some good friends who take time once a week to just talk. It’s not a date, though they schedule it as one. It’s a safe time for when they can say what’s bothering them, what needs to be different, what they love about the other one, their work, the family, etc. It’s such a huge way to say to each other, “You are important. Our marriage is important, and we will take the time to focus on each other and iron out the bad spots and rejoice at the good ones.” This is also so vital to do with our kids. Keep them on a strict schedule with their devices. Life is out there not under their chins in the dark. We need to be present every day with our loved ones.
5. Always Put Them First.
My mother told me when I got married, “Each day when you wake up, think about all the ways you can do for him today.” And she’s right! After our relationship with our Lord, our spouse is next. We make them first in our actions, in the words we use, in how we structure our days and life. We honor them. We value them. We do for them above what we want for ourselves.
My husband is so unselfish. If he is eating something wonderful, he gives me the best bite. I don’t know if I would do that! He wants what I want. He does for me whenever he can. And it makes such a difference in our marriage. Putting our spouse first is learning to be unselfish. It’s engaging in our spouse’s life and interests.
So, what could you do to show you are putting your spouse first? Perhaps, taking her car to get fixed or washed; making his favorite dinner, again. Letting her sleep in on Saturday and you take care of the baby first thing; inviting his parents/family for dinner; welcoming his friends and being supportive of them and his hobbies. Encouraging your wife if she wants to go back to school, knowing it will mean more work for you. Being spontaneous if he wants to go get ice cream, even when you have hours of work still to do! Putting our spouse first means being there for them, doing for them and sacrificing for them.
We live in such a narcissistic world where everyone is out for themselves. As Christians, we are to be the light in the world that shines in this deep darkness by being the example to others as we treat others. And the first person we should treat the best is our spouse. Our children will see our behavior and will copy it. Just think of all the wonderful marriages that can come from our examples.
I know we all have trials in our lives and in our relationships. But I believe if we follow what the Lord tells us to do – Doing for others as we would have them do to us – and love always, we will have success.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. 1 Corinthians 13:4:7
Lane P. Jordan is a writer, best-selling author, international motivational and inspirational speaker, singer, artist, Bible teacher, and professional life coach. She lives in Frisco, Texas with her husband who partners with her in ministry and waits impatiently for daughters and granddaughter to visit! Lane’s desire is to encourage, support, and motivate women of all ages to be better wives, mothers, and women of God by organizing their lives and time. You can find her at: www.LaneJordanMinistries.com and her blog at www.PathwaysToOrganization.com.