Thoughts on Love and Marriage

I’ve been thinking a lot about love and marriage, especially upon listening to “The Empowered Wife” podcast, and finishing the book “The Five Love Languages”. And today is my husband and my 9 year wedding anniversary! So it seemed appropriate to share my thoughts:

  • Focus on loving without expecting in return.
  • Don’t worry too much about your partner’s love language instead focus on what they are needing right now, and reflect on ways you may have been not loving with them. For example, I think we tend to love people in the same way on autopilot. Like acts of service, cooking, cleaning, etc., but when was the last time we did an act of service that was really important to them? Or bought them a gift? Or scheduled a date night? My husband likes when I pull all the blinds down when I leave the house so honoring his preference is a way to show I love him, even though for me it’s not something I naturally think is important.
  • Don’t worry about your love language too much, because what you need and desire right now may not be your main love language. For example, I have been in need of more physical touch recently (hand holding etc) whereas normally that is not my love language. Also in different seasons the kind of love we need is different. For example, while raising young children acts of service may become the most meaningful to you.
  • Express your desires in a loving and encouraging way, and stop complaining. Keep complaints to yourself until you are seeing more tenderness to yourself until your are seeing more tenderness from your partner, then form your complaint into a request. Complaints are really a need in disguise. Criticism and complaining get you nowhere. You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, right?
  • When you are cranky don’t expect your spouse to be the source of your happiness and fulfillment. Learn to practice contentment and gratitude . Find creative ways to relieve stress. Fill yourself up so you can fill them up.
  • By changing your behavior you have the most power to influence your spouse. But it will take time, and it will take effort. Love is a choice and an action. Falling in love just happens. Love is a decision we make everyday whether or not we feel like it.
  • Don’t take the things your spouse does for granted. Think of all the things they do each day on autopilot and thank them for each one. It’s not about them deserving a thank you. It’s about you remembering that your spouse has many wonderful qualities even when you are having resentment towards them. Practice extraordinary gratitude. If you really think about it, it’s quite extraordinary that your spouse makes you coffee in the morning, or goes to work for your family each day, or cooks and cleans day in day out. What a blessing!
  • Sometimes your resentment is misplaced. Sometimes it just means you need to have some self-care time.
  • Quality time with your spouse is hard to come by when you are raising young children, but do your best to make it a priority. Try to schedule date nights, of course, but for some people this is really difficult to manage. Instead, have date nights at home and come up with intentional ways to spend time with them. I love to watch TV with my husband, but instead of defaulting to that, play a board game, work on a hobby together, plan together, etc. Share some tea or hot chocolate or a yummy dessert. Hide your phones! My husband and I call them “demon boxes”. lol They just suck away your time! You gotta have special time together, you want to still know each other when your long journey of child-rearing comes to an end!
  • Share empowered wife moments with trusted girlfriends who believe in your marriage and this will help encourage you on your journey.
  • Refrain from entertaining yourself with negative attitudes about marriage and about husbands and wives. This will only promote cynicism. That’s the opposite of what you want! You want love, intimacy, affection, and joy. You want to know there’s hope. Read books on marriage and listen to podcasts to help you stay inspired. Believe in the process.
  • If your spouse complains to you about something you do over and over this could be a sign that they are feeling starved in that area.
  • Ask your spouse how you can be a better spouse but realize they may not be able to come up with anything. In this case, you will bear good fruit by being respectful, receiving graciously, speaking words of appreciation and admiration, and taking good care of yourself. If they do give you something to improve on, take it very seriously and make it a priority to work on.
  • Don’t be a martyr. If it irritates you that your spouse spends a lot of time away from home, or busy with their own pursuits like studying, etc, this is a sign you have needs going unmet. It could mean you need a break from the kids for example, and if you state “I’m going to go get a pedicure” when your spouse is home , you may be surprised at their response. At first they might be resistant because they are used to you being constantly available. But remember, who taught them that? We have to take personal responsibility for our own behavior, even if that means we have given too much. We are responsible for our own happiness. It doesn’t write off poor behavior on his part, but helps you to focus on what you actually have control over. So just state what you are going to do for your self care and see what happens. Maybe the kids won’t eat as healthily and they will watch more TV but everyone will benefit from a happier Momma and your kids will be so happy to spend time with their Dad. But if you complain that they aren’t home enough, they will likely not respond favorably. Focus on what you would have if they weren’t engaging in such and such activity. Maybe you just miss them – “I’d love to go on a date with you to _____”. Or maybe you just want their help around the house “I love when you do the dishes.” Or even just say “I can’t do the dishes tonight”. Practice these intimacy skills over and over and you might be surprised at what happens. You may think your spouse expects you to be a perfect housekeeper, and maybe he does, but he may be happier to see you calmer and happier and engaging in activities that fill you up.
  • DO have good boundaries. We have to allow our partner to reap what they sow. We can’t give out of compulsion and control, it has to be out of love. We don’t need to announce anything we just can stop doing extra things that aren’t our responsibility. It’s nice to cook a meal for our spouse, but it isn’t our job to make sure they eat, that’s their choice and we have to respect that. If they come home past dinner time, then your don’t have to feel responsible to have their dinner hot either. They decided it was more important to work late , and that’s fine, but dinner won’t be hot and ready it will be put away. A lack of planning on their part is not an emergency on your part. If they miss their alarm it’s not your job to wake them up. It’s not your job to solve the problems they have at work. Your job is to love them and listen.
  • Be honest about what YOU want. If there is something we want for ourselves, we can just state that. We don’t have to make sure our partner wants it too. It’s not selfish to have desires. We can say “I’d love to have Mexican food tonight” instead of “Wouldn’t Mexican food be good tonight?” chances our your spouse will appreciate your honesty so they know how to love you even though that may not be their first choice they will be happy for the opportunity to make you happy. Or, “I’d love to get a dog”, and even if they don’t share the desire, if they aren’t adamantly against it, don’t worry about them not being as excited as you are. Their excitement will come from seeing you happy.

Have you read or listened to anything interesting on the subject of relationships lately? I’d love to know in the comments!