You want your love to last? Sure, we all do. But not everyone does what it takes to make it happen. Don’t worry–it isn’t big, sweeping changes, lavish anniversary gifts, or exotic getaways that make the difference. Indeed, with our world of constant distraction, marriage experts agree that it’s actually the little things that matter most.
Little Things: Your Thoughts
First, consider how you think about your spouse. Are you grateful for his hard work around the house? Are you glad she takes such great care of the kids? Do you still see the little quirks that you loved when you first met as adorable or have they become annoying? Choosing your lens makes a difference, and we get to choose! When he comes home late, is your first thought that he’s selfish and thoughtless? Or that he must be exhausted from such a big day? When she doesn’t cook dinner, do you think she’s lazy or think about how great she is at helping the kids with homework? How we explain our spouse’s behavior affects our feelings toward our spouse, and our feelings affect our behavior. And our behavior, loving or not, kind or not, understanding or not, directly affects our spouse. Check regularly throughout the day if you are focused on the good things about your spouse and what you are grateful for. If you’re not, then make a quick mental shift–it will make a difference.
Little Things: Your Words
Next, consider the words you use with your spouse. Take a moment to say “I love you” to your husband before he leaves for work–the effect will be more than momentary. Take time to tell your wife she’s beautiful at some point during the day, whether it’s when she first wakes up or when she’s gotten dolled up for date night. Tell him you’re proud of him for everything he does for your family, or tell her your grateful that she mowed the lawn. It doesn’t take long to do–but the feelings those words create make a big impact.
Little Things: Acts of Kindness
Third, ask yourself, what have I done for my spouse lately? Actions speak loud and clear. It doesn’t have to be repainting the whole house or making a 7-course meal to get your spouse’s attention. Little things like a glass of orange juice in the morning, a foot rub after a long day, a love note on the steering wheel, or a quick call to say “hello” show that you care. Tell her a joke you found funny or ask his opinion about the new drapes before you buy. Be the first one to apologize for your part in a dispute. Meet your man at the door when he comes home and surprise him with a passionate kiss. Bring home her favorite ice cream. Let your spouse know you care. These are the little gestures that create loving affection in marriage and clearly show your spouse that their happiness is your happiness.
Any couple can strengthen their marriage by remembering that love is more than a feeling. Love is a verb. Love is about intentionally doing the little things regularly, over time, that say “I’m thinking of you” and “I want whatever makes you happy” and “I’m glad we’re still together.” It doesn’t take long. It just takes commitment. If you want to stay in love, then get to work at loving your partner in little ways every day. You’ll feel the difference.
Heidi Poelman is the author of The Two-Minute Marriage Project: Simple Secrets for Staying in Love. She studied communication at Brigham Young University (BA) and Wake Forest University (MA). Heidi and her husband, Scott, have been married for 14 years and have three children with one more on the way. Learn more at www.heidipoelman.com.