Over the years of pastoral counseling, 36 collective years of marriage and countless counseling appointments with couples with all kinds of challenges, I’d like to offer the following two actions that I believe will help every marriage.
- Stop thinking that your spouse knows (or should know) what you are thinking. They Don’t! But Chuck, we’ve been married for 30 years. How do they not know what I’m thinking? Because you didn’t tell them. You assumed that they should know and now you are frustrated, angry, lonely and most likely – anxious. If you feel like your spouse isn’t fully present in your relationship, ask them what they are thinking about. Ask them to turn the phone off, set the iPad down, or record the show. Be gracious, and kind and be specific about what you really want them to do/be/act like, etc. in that moment. Don’t get mad, get together. You know how you know they still love you? When they hear you and want to understand…so be clear, not cute!
- Show them that you value them. I am convinced that when we feel valued, we feel loved. When we stop conveying value, we stop sharing love. And then communication goes south, arguments are enlarged and our words become more hurtful. This is a three-fold problem. It is a communications problem, an attitude problem and an action problem. Answer this question. What could your spouse change, do or offer that would convince you (year after year) that you are valued? Start with three things and be very specific. Remember, do not think they understand or that they should understand. Ask you spouse to do the same. Put the kiddos to sleep, turn the television off and TALK. You’ll be amazed at what this little exercise can do for your marriage. I guarantee you that your spouse wants to hear, receive or experience value, respect, intimacy and love. And when that becomes your daily habit, you will create a forcefield of trust, love and intimacy.
Marriage is not a 50%-50% proposition. Marriage is a 100%-100% living, breathing organism. You both have to bring 100%, every single day. There will be days that you can barely muster up 60%. When value and love are the goal, your spouse will want to bring the other 140%. This isn’t a barter system. It’s an awareness system. When we are fully engaged in the present and future of our sweetheart, we are seeking to convey value, respect, intimacy and LOVE!
Respect, intimacy and love don’t just happen. They are cultivated in the fertile soil of VALUE.
If the value you convey for your spouse could be measured on a continuum, and that continuum was measured from 0-10, and 10 was super value…How would you measure up? Then ask yourself where you would fit on that same continuum based on the degree to which you feel valued.
Go ahead, get your love song playlist on. Break out the candles. Brush your teeth, freshen up, put away those flannel pajamas, look into each others eyes and get some white hot value going all up in there!