You want your love to last? Sure, we all do. But not everyone does what it takes to make it happen. Indeed, half of the marriages out there will fail. The number one reason cited for why couples call it quits? They fell out of love. If you want to stay in love, you have to work at it. Don’t worry–it isn’t big, sweeping changes, lavish anniversary gifts, or exotic getaways that make the difference. Marriage experts agree that it’s actually the little things that matter most.
First, consider how you think about your spouse. Choosing your lens makes a difference, and we get to choose! When he comes home late, is your first thought that he’s selfish and thoughtless? Or that he must be exhausted from such a big day? When she doesn’t cook dinner, do you think she’s lazy or do you think about how great she is at helping the kids with homework? How we explain our spouse’s behavior affects our feelings toward our spouse, and our feelings affect our behavior. And our behavior, loving or not, kind or not, understanding or not, directly affects our spouse. Check regularly throughout the day if you are focused on the good things about your spouse and what you are grateful for. If you need to, make a quick mental shift–it will make a difference.
Next, consider the words you use with your spouse. Take a moment to say “I love you” to your husband before he leaves for work–the effect will be more than momentary. Take time to tell your wife she’s beautiful at some point during the day, whether it’s when she first wakes up or when she’s gotten dolled up for date night. Tell him you’re proud of him for everything he does for your family, or tell her your grateful that she mowed the lawn. Even ask questions like “How was your day?” or “What do you think of this paint color?” That shows your spouse you care. It doesn’t take long to do–but the feelings those words create make a big impact.
Third, ask yourself, what have I done for my spouse lately? Actions speak loud and clear. It doesn’t have to be repainting the whole house or making a 7-course meal to get your spouse’s attention. Little things like a glass of orange juice in the morning, a foot rub after a long day, a love note on the steering wheel, or a quick call to say “hello” make loving connections that matter. Tell her a joke you found funny or be the first one to apologize for your part in a dispute. Meet your man at the door when he comes home and surprise him with a passionate kiss. Bring home her favorite ice cream. Let your spouse know you care. These are the little gestures that create loving affection in marriage and clearly show your spouse that their happiness is your happiness.
Most important to remember, don’t get lazy about love. Any couple can strengthen their marriage by remembering that love is more than a feeling. Love is a verb. Love is about intentionally doing the little things regularly, over time, that say “I’m thinking of you” and “I want whatever makes you happy” and “I’m glad we’re still together.” It doesn’t take long. It just takes commitment. If you want to stay in love, then get to work at loving your partner in little ways every day. You’ll feel the difference.
Heidi Poelman has always loved learning about topics that can strengthen and inspire families. She is the author of A Mother’s Greatest Gift: Relying on the Spirit as You Raise Your Children, The Two-Minute Marriage Project: Simple Secrets for Staying in Love, and the children’s book A is for Abinadi: An Alphabet Book of Scripture Heroes. Heidi received her degrees in communication from Brigham Young University (BA) and Wake Forest University (MA). She and her husband, Scott, live in Utah and are the parents of four children. Learn more at www.heidipoelman.com.