Helping our spouse to feel loved and important is the best way for us to protect and strengthen our marriages
Many people mistakenly assume that their spouses know they are loved. If someone asked your spouse how they know that they are loved by you, what would they have to say? Hopefully, they would be able to name things that you do every day that show your love. If they have a hard time coming up with an answer, they may be doubting your love. Not far behind that will be loss of their love for you. You can avoid that by regularly making your spouse feel loved. That takes a lot more effort than a Hallmark card every Valentine’s Day and birthday. Here are 10 important ways we can show love to our spouse.
1. We show love by telling our spouse specifically why we care.
Although feeling love and caring are related, they are not the same thing. Many people who profess their feelings of love do a poor job of showing it. Do you show that you really care about your spouse’s thoughts, feelings, and aspirations? Many of the people I coach to reconcile with their spouses had given very little thought to what their spouse’s desires for the future were. They got too wrapped up in their own goals and daily routines. They thought that taking care of their spouse meant taking care of the house, the kids, or bringing home a paycheck. To really show our spouse how much we care, we first need to think about what we really care about and express it. “I really care about how happy you feel. If there is any way that I can help you to enjoy your life more, then I want to do that.” Or, “I really care about your dad’s health, too. I know that he has always been there for you, and that losing him would really hurt you a lot.” These kinds of messages show thoughtfulness and genuine concern. They don’t seem self-serving. If your spouse ever accuses you of not caring, then you can be certain you have been too weak in this area.
2. We show love by saying, “I love you.”
Words are important! When we don’t say, “I love you,” our spouses can come to the conclusion that it is difficult for us to say it, which stimulates doubt. The best time to say, “I love you,” is when your spouse does something that reminds you of one of the reasons that you love him or her. When he makes you laugh, when she sneaks up behind you and puts her arms around you, etc. These are things that attracted you more to your spouse than to someone else. When these behaviors show up, make it a point to reaffirm your love with words. Also, make sure you say the words with your lips. Don’t get in the habit of giving your spouse someone else’s words in greeting cards or poetry. Those are ok once in a while, but no substitute for your personal expression. If your spouse only hears these words after saying “I love you” first, then he or she has good reasons to doubt your love. If you really love your spouse, it shouldn’t be difficult to say so without prompting.
3. We show love by giving word pictures of our future together.
Once your spouse (or you) start believing the best part of your marriage is already over, the love feelings start to fade. That’s why it’s important to help your spouse to look forward to a future you imagine for the both of you. Imagine, and often describe, a vision of the future which includes elements that you both want. Doing so shows how important your spouse is to you. If you only think about getting what you want and the future, and only talk about that to your spouse, he or she rightfully may wonder where he or she fits in that future–if at all! If you both are career oriented, you could say you are looking forward to the day when you both help each other to be very successful and other people look at you as the perfect couple. Or, perhaps more of a family orientation–talking about how you are looking forward to raising your children together, having a home in the country, etc. Anticipation is the spice that keeps many marriages vital and growing. Hope for tomorrow helps us to feel better today.
4. We show our love when we do little thoughtful and kind things
Doing little things expresses “I love you,” better than doing big things. Although husbands and wives often do big things for each other like work full-time, cook meals, or provide child care, these are connected more with duty, expected behavior, and obligation. It’s not hard to think, “He (or she) does that because he has to.” But, when you do little things, it is obvious that you are doing them for your spouse because you don’t have to do them at all. What are little things? Little things are actions which require just a little more effort than usual. They don’t take much time or money, but they show that we are thinking about our partner even when he or she isn’t around. Sending a text in the middle of your work day, holding the door for him or her, making a toast to something special about him or her, shining her shoes, bringing him a drink,etc. Something that takes about 5 minutes is probably about right.
Think about what would happen to your relationship if your main goal each day was to show your love to your spouse
5. We show love by making sure our touches are affectionate.
Make your spouse feel like you really enjoy just touching and kissing him or her. To make your touches and kisses more affectionate, vary the amount and intensity. Just holding your kiss for 5 seconds longer can make a big difference, as can spreading them out over other parts of his or her face and neck. A touch with the fingers can slide a little to become a caress. Make sure that this kind of touching is not done to signal your desire for sex. Love touching and “lust touching” are two different things and your spouse can feel the difference. Love touching feels like a gift. Lust touching feels like you want something.
6. We show love by making sex passionate.
You can show your love for your partner by really enjoying your sex together. Relax your mind, and let your body get into it–like a good dance. Give your spouse what he or she likes with a positive mindset. Talk about what you both like. Make him or her feel sexy. Have planned sex as well as surprise sex. Sometimes, give little sexual “favors” without expecting anything in return. If you have any hang-ups, get over them. It’s a very physical and visual way to say, “I love you,” and “I desire you.” Make your spouse feel like he or she is the one you desire and think about. The more special you make your spouse feel, the more important you will become to him or her. Who initiates sex is not the important thing. How much you both enjoy having sex together is the important thing.
7. We show love by dating and doing things together.
Dates should happen regularly (once a week is a good starting guideline) and include elements you both enjoy, although you don’t have to enjoy the same ones. Just as anticipation of a distant future together helps cement your marriage, anticipation of your dates can also help. There is nothing wrong with “routine” dates if you both enjoy them. But, if either of you gets to the point where you are looking forward to getting the date over rather than going on the date, it’s time for a change of pace. There are different ways to plan good dates. Also consider making dates out of routine events. If your husband or wife is outside working in the yard, put together a little picnic basket and go outside and have lunch together under a tree. Is your spouse washing the dishes? Go help–not because he or she needs it, but in order to make it something you do together. The main feature of dating is togetherness.
8. We show love by talking about and listening to intimate subjects.
What are intimate subjects? Anything that we don’t usually talk about with others. It’s a kind of sharing–our hopes, memories, thoughts, ideas. These are the parts that don’t get to come out of our head much with other people. They are a part of us that very few people get to hear. When sharing, be sure to listen without interrupting, and never criticize. Being able to feel secure and share together creates a tight bond. It makes a bubble with you and your partner on the inside and everyone else on the outside. And, it also helps to prevent secret behaviors that could cause more distance in your relationship. Security, sharing, and loving go hand in hand.
9. We show love by making long term plans together and making it a priority to work on them.
This is very loving because it will reduce your partner’s doubts and will help him or her to deal with any difficulties in your relationship. Plans are practical steps toward a positive future. They can include working on getting out of debt, having children, career moves, relationship coaching, starting a business, making a geographic move, or anything that will help you both to have a secure and happy future together. Not doing this will make your commitment to your marriage seem doubtful to your spouse. Showing your desire to work on problems that are obvious to you and your spouse will help your spouse feel both secure and loved.
10. We show love by making time for our spouse every day.
Never make your spouse feel second place to your work, your computer games, your friends, your children or any other person or thing. Doing that would mean that you are more committed to those things than to your spouse. And your spouse may start to desire someone who will put him or her first. Do whatever you have to do to make your spouse a priority and to spend time with your spouse every day–one on one, doing something interactive. There is no way to deprive your spouse of daily attention and then make up for it later. You would become a “part-time spouse,” and not many people really want to have that.
Is something making it difficult to show love or receive love in your marriage?
Although it’s possible to show love in all of these ways and not feel loved by your spouse, showing love is the best first step to ensuring a strong and secure relationship. If your marriage already has serious damage, then there may be things getting in the way of your giving or getting love. If so, those obstacles must be removed so that love can be restored. Many people are using marriage coaching, especially when they need to improve their marriage before their spouse is ready to work together. Something needs to bridge the gap between how things are now, and how you want them to be.