By Heidi Vegh, Crosswalk.com
Since the season of thanks is upon us, let's go ahead and recognize the one person in our life that we should appreciate the most, our spouse. It is so easy to set aside our love for them in our hustle and bustle society, neglecting those precious notions that bless our spouse. We allow all the other things vying for our attention to take place in front of them. It's super easy to do and often feels like our relationship with our spouse is like two ships passing in the night. There are many days my hubby and I hardly get a word in to each other during the day; we are running here and there and are exhausted. We fall into bed, say a soft goodnight, and I lay there realizing that we didn't even have a meaningful conversation that day, just maybe a few texts here and there. We are committed to spending our life with our spouses; shouldn't we prioritize that? Prioritizing our love for them and showing them gratefulness for who they are not only builds the bonds of marriage but creates peace in the relationship.
In Ephesians 4:2-3, we read, "With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." In this passage, Paul is encouraging the people of Ephesus. He is reminding them that they are part of the body of Christ, and we are His representatives and should be shining the light of Jesus in how we live our lives. How much more should we be shining Christ's love in our own families, especially to our spouses?
Here are four ways to show your spouse you are grateful for them:
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/YakobchukOlena
1. Thank Them
When my husband and I were in pre-marital counseling, our pastor encouraged us to pray with each other each night. He heavily suggested that we thank God for each other during the prayer time, out loud in our prayer. Thank God for all they are and for all they do for you. There is something about hearing gratitude coming from the heart of the one you love. It helps you to know that you are loved, appreciated, and noticed. The same goes for your spouse; when they hear all the things you are thankful for about them, they will light up inside. This habit has blessed my marriage in numerous ways. When we do have a night without our prayer, I can feel its absence. Get into this habit and marvel at the blessings.
Thank them throughout the day. If they do the dishes, say thank you. If they do a carpool run, so you don't have to leave the house for the 11th time that day, say thank you. Even though you both run the house together, and it is all expected, a little appreciation goes a long way, and you will each be motivated to serve each other.
Say thank you for things that are not only done but for who they are. Wrap your arms around them after a long day at work and thank them for being so good-looking. A little flirting is always good for lifting our moods.
Photo credit: ©Pexels/Luis Quintero
2. Serve Them
In many marriages, it is a game of who did what and how many times. We can often only be motivated to serve our spouses if they have done something for us first. You might only want to do the dishes because they did it the night before; if they didn't, then you might withhold your service until they step up their game. It's the chicken and the egg. Which comes first serve or being served? How about letting it start with you serving all the time, no matter what. Author Alex Kendrick wrote a best-selling book, The Love Dare. This book is a challenge for healthy marriages and marriages that are hanging on by a thread. This book gives the reader 30 challenges to love and serve their spouse every day, no matter the current circumstance. Whether your spouse is aware of the challenge or not, this dare can awaken not only your spouse's appreciation for you but also awaken the giving spirit inside of yourself, allowing you space to love them and serve them unconditionally. In addition to this stellar book, there is also a movie, based on the book, that I highly recommend called Fireproof. Find ways to serve them, even in small ways; it will add up to big rewards in your marriage.
3. Speak Highly of Them
Being in a marriage relationship should feel safe. You should never have to worry about what your spouse says about you behind your back. On the flip side, your spouse should never have to worry about what you say behind their back. If you are struggling with your marriage, find a trusted support system such as a therapist or church counselor to help you walk through your frustrations, but ragging on them to a friend is never the way to go about it. You are a team. You are in this together. Bringing someone else in who could possibly exacerbate the situation will only cause more division in your marriage, and you may be at risk of getting bad advice.
Speak words of affirmation to them and about them. They are your people. Your teammate. Not someone to be mocked or criticized. They are not your enemy. Our words have power. What we say matters. Our words have the power to kill or build up. The book of Proverbs is an excellent place for these reminders:
Proverbs 15:4 "Gentle words bring life and health; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."
Proverbs 16:24 "Kind words are like honey-sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."
Proverbs 18:4 "A person's words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook."
Words can tear us down, even when they are said behind our back. After speaking negatively about our spouse, the negativity that is left over in our hearts and minds could spill over into our communications with our spouse. Speak life about your spouse. Edify them when they are not around. Let everyone know that you adore them, love them and appreciate them. These loving words will speak into the lives of others, possibly bringing to light the negativity they are speaking about their own spouse.
What comes out of our mouths is an indication of what is in our hearts. Let's do a heart check today and make sure we only have love and admiring words for our spouse.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Anastasia Gubinskaya
4. Love Them with Their Love Language
In the best-selling book The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman has narrowed down five ways a person wants to be loved and how they love. The five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. Each of us is designed to love and be loved differently. If we can narrow down how your spouse longs to be loved, it can be a game-changer in a marriage. If your spouse wants to be loved with acts of service, then a gift may not mean much to them. But if you do the dishes or put gas in their car, it may light them up. Visit the Five Love Languages website to order the book or take the quiz. It would do well for both of you to take the quiz so you can be loving each other in the best way possible.
Let's put our best foot forward in the love department showing them our gratitude. The Bible tells us to put others before ourselves, and this certainly means our spouse.
If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Philippians 2:3.
Marriage is not a self-serving union. We don't get married to fulfill deep longings within ourselves. If we get married with the impression that our spouse's job is to make us happy, then we will be disappointed and frustrated every day. When you turn the table and point the love toward your spouse and show your spouse you are grateful for them every day, this will lift their spirits and give them the desire to love you back and share their gratitude for you. Imagine the dazzling marriage you could live in if you both lived this way. So today, show your spouse just how much you love them, just how much you appreciate them and just how thankful you are for them. Shower them with love and gratefulness and wait for the glow that comes from them, creating a stronger bond and a tighter connection to your one and only.