CNN recently published an article called “Ways to make someone feel loved, besides saying it,” and it’s filled with simple and creative actions you can take to love others. It’s a great premise, and while a cynic may call a piece like this superficial, I thought it was a great illustration of what the natural output of a Christian should be.
It got me thinking about my marriage – specifically, about how over the years it’s been the little things that have brought my wife the most joy and reassurance. Conversely, when I’ve neglected to think of ways to love my wife throughout the week, it’s led to her feeling more discouraged, less secure, and even more tired.
“Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.”
Hebrews 10:24 TPT
Marriages start to die when a spouse loses interest in finding creative ways to be loving and encouraging. Here are just a few examples of ways to keep your marriage fresh to get your creative (and loving) juices flowing.
(Disclaimer: while this article is intended for both husbands and wives, the perspective is at times inevitably husband-skewed since I did my best to share personally).
Make a card (bonus for husbands: buy some flowers)
Let’s start with an easy one. It doesn’t take a licensed marriage counselor to know that if you come home with flowers and a card, your wife is most likely going to have a smile on her face.
“But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.”
Ephesians 4:32 TPT
Small acts of affection go a long way toward building your spouse’s confidence. My wife feels more sure of our relationship and secure in how I feel about her when I go out of my way to show and tell her how I love her. Whether you make a card, buy flowers or craft some other gift idea that you found on Pinterest, the result will be the same: a spouse who feels that they still matter to you.
Plan date nights
Making the transition from single life to married life was quite the adventure for me and my wife. It was certainly volatile at times, but it was mostly exciting spending time with my best friend. When we became parents this year to an amazing little girl, one of the hardest things to keep up has been spending quality (see: undistracted) time together.
“Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.”
Hebrews 13:4 NLT
One of the lessons that was taught to me early on from friends who have been married much longer than me was to keep marriage honored and sacred by prioritizing it above everything else except God. When I first got married, my single friends were at times confused or put off when I stopped showing up to the late night hangouts or things of that nature.
Whether you have kids or not, it can be easy to shift your focus off of the time and energy it takes to prioritize connecting times with your spouse. Date nights are fun, easy, and practical ways to help you make sure you get that time on the calendar. If you have kids, start building a babysitter bench or parenting co-op so you can get away for even just a few hours.
Fights are fine. Leaving them unresolved, not so much
Another lesson I learned early on in marriage from friends is to not be afraid of or avoid fighting. This is counter-intuitive to me, as I am by nature someone who is deathly afraid of conflict. But I can attest to the fact that my wife has expressed feeling closer after times we both let our emotions spill out and revealed our hearts for better or worse.
The caveat is that while it’s one thing to start a fight, it’s important that you see it through to resolution.
‘“When you are angry, don’t let that anger make you sin,” and don’t stay angry all day.  Don’t give the devil a way to defeat you.’
Ephesians 4:26-27 ERV
There are several ways married couples avoid resolving fights:
- Bitterness – Harden your hearts and stay angry or hurt
- Selfishness – refuse to initiate a conversation
- Pride – refuse to take responsibility
- Deceit – Convince yourselves it’s not a big deal, move on
I know that list well because I’m a chief offender for each one. This whole article is humbling to write since I am by no means a model example for any of these points, rather I am particularly guilty of violating them on a regular basis. It may not seem like a big deal to let disagreements and hurt feelings go unresolved, but it’s like death by a thousand paper cuts – each fight that goes unaddressed adds up to cause a lot of damage down the road.
So why include this major big topic on a list of “little things” in marriage? Because it helps to start with the little fights. Get irritated at your spouse for leaving the laundry unfolded? Talk about it! Did your spouse hurt your feelings with that harmless joke? Bring it up! Learn how to talk about what you’re feeling when the stakes are low so you’re better prepared to talk when they are much higher.
Take something off their plate
One of the best things about being married is having someone there at your side to encourage you when you need it most. However, no one can hurt your feelings more than your spouse, and a husband or wife who thinks primarily about themselves is a recipe for sadness.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
Philippians 2:4 NLT
One of the things my wife says encourages her more than almost anything is when I take time to think through what’s on her heart. When I make it a priority to pray for and about her, I can usually come away with several things that I can ask her about later to see how I can help. It’s relieving for her when I take something on, especially when she doesn’t have to ask me to do it.
Which area do you need to take on the most? Talk with your spouse and work together to take these points on today!
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