Roger and I are working together to build a love story that passes the test of time. When we attend a wedding I often sign the card, “We pray your lifetime commitment brings you lifelong joy.” The road we travel to that joy is a bumpy one with twists and turns that, if you aren’t prepared, can knock you off the path to happily ever after.
Our desire is to construct a love story that will leave a lasting legacy that influences generations to come. Joshua 24:15, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” is the foundation of our home. The walls have been erected on that foundation and are held in place by the practical tips we share below. Commitment is the ridgeline of any successful relationship. We believe putting these tips into practice can help to provide shelter from the storms of life and build a healthy relationship that lasts. Give these a try you’ll be happy you did.
- Do something each day for your spouse they could do for themselves. Everyday Roger and I look for something we can do for each other that doesn’t really need to be done, such as filling up a water glass or cleaning the other person’s glasses. It is often the little things that make a big difference.
- Treat each other like you treat your friends. Friends are kind to each other, use a pleasant tone of voice and complement each other. Sadly we sometimes leave the best of us behind with our friends and bring our negative attitudes home to the ones we love the most. Willy Wonka had it right on this one when he said, “Strike that, reverse it.” Not that you should be unkind to your friends but be sure you have some of that kindness left over for your spouse.
- Complement your spouse behind his/her back. What we’re talking about is practicing appreciating your spouse out loud. Bringing up things we appreciate reminds us of the great qualities we may have overlooked and helps us focus on those positive attributes rather than the latest irritation. You’ve heard the playground mantra, “Your words will never hurt me?” Well, don’t believe it, your words do matter and when your spouse hears you’ve spoken complements behind their back the smile will be brilliant.
- Learn your spouse’s love language. Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages” is the genesis for this tip. Just because it blesses your soul to have the garbage taken out doesn’t mean your spouse cares about it at all. Learn what does show love to your spouse and you will have opened the vault of love! Here they are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service and Physical Touch.
- When your spouse arrives home – get up off the couch! We have practiced this one through the years. Greeting each other with a warm embrace can break down tension that may have built up during the day. This one is a bit of a twist on the “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Try it a time or two you’ll be amazed at how it sets the tone for the rest of the evening.
- For gals…find some way each day to let your husband know he is your hero. I learned this one from Dr. Kevin Leman, psychologist and family therapist and author of too many fantastic books to count. In Dr. Leman’s words, “Make your guy feel like he is your king and he’ll follow you anywhere.” Sometimes I just say the words, “You are my hero.” Sometimes, I just make sure to say, “Thank you, I appreciate what you did today.” This may seem simple and even contrived but try it, you’ll find they fall for it every time. Watch for the head lift and the shoulders to go up with pride. This is powerful stuff right here, you want him to pay attention to you?? Make sure he knows he is the man of your dreams and he’ll take out the garbage without being asked – I’m offering money back guarantee on this one.
- For guys…let her know she is the woman of your dreams. Recognize her for something beyond her looks, she is not your trophy possession but your partner working at a nearly impossible balancing act of managing her roles as wife, mother, running the home, her career and her volunteer activities. A simple kind word of recognition and appreciation will fill her love tank and that could come with enormous benefits!
- Have fun together, laugh with each other. Sometimes we have to get beyond ourselves and laugh about the goofy thing we just did, rather than putting our defenses up – give it up and have a good laugh. Watch an old movie that tickles your funny bone and practice laughing together – this is an easy one to forget – ask yourself, when was the last time we laughed together?
- Keep your career second to your relationship. When you focus on your marriage relationship everything, including your career, just flows better. It seems the bumps in the road of life seem a little smoother when you feel safe and secure in your relationship.
- Just be nice! No elaboration needed here, just follow your mother’s words and, “Watch your tone of voice” and many frustrations will melt away. Truly I feel this is the most important tip of all, just step back, put the arrows of accusation down and just be nice. If you truly take this one to heart, we have found this to be a miracle cure for most of what ails relationships.
+1. Relationships are a 50/50 proposition is a fallacy. Relationships that last are the ones where each person is giving 100%. There really is no guarantee the other will respond in the way you wish especially if years of destructive behaviors have caused a break in the relationship.
As I have always told my children, “You do the right thing. Keep after it and you will benefit.” If it has taken you years to get to where you are it may take years to break unhealthy patterns but you will begin to see little changes right away as your family begins to feel safe and appreciated.
We are not family therapists, these are just tips that have worked for us and our family. We pray they are a benefit to you and your family and that love increases in your home and you feel joy.
NOTE: if you are experiencing abuse, verbally or physically, seek professional help immediately. No one should be threatened on any level nor should you “put up with it” and hope it will pass. Make sure you are taking steps to keep yourself and your family safe.