All relationships will have good times, bad times and those times when we don’t know what we are going through. One of the things that I have realized over the last 20 years, we must be intentional. If our marriages are to grown and get better, we must put the time and effort into them. Nothing happens by chance. To make a garden grow, it needs to be cultivated. To make a marriage thrive, it too needs to be cultivated.
While there are many things that we can do to help our marriages be stronger, I think there are three that we can start with today.
1. Pray for your spouse
2. Get to know your spouse by spending time with them
3. Learn your spouses’ love language and speak it frequently
Don’t forget to take time each day to pray for your spouse. If you are not sure how to begin, here are a few links to get you started.
For the relationship with our spouse to grow, we need to spend time together. And sleeping next to a snoring husband does not count. The time together needs to be personal, open and intimate. My marriage doesn’t grow because we sit at the same dinner table with our four kids or because we ride in the car together to church. We need to make time apart from the daily grind of life for just the two of us. The type of investment you put into your marriage will determine the return of your dividends.Focus on the Family has a “Date Night” challenge going on right now. The challenge is 3 dates in 3 weeks. For some people with kids, that can sound like a lot, especially if you have childcare to arrange and sitters to pay. But let me give you some ideas of things you can do that won’t break the bank.
Family Life puts out a book called Dates on a Dime that has some interesting ways you can spend time with your loved one.Available for FREE at Amazon.com is the kindle version of 40 Unforgettable Date with Your Mate.
A few years ago we had sick kids on Valentine’s Day and I could not go out with my husband. Instead, I put the kids to bed early and I cooked my husband a candlelight dinner.
Get creative! It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg to spend time with your spouse. The hardest part is getting started. So pick your date and mark it on your calendar today!
Thirdly, we need to learn what our spouses Love Language is and then we need to speak it frequently. If you have never heard of the 5 Love Languages, let me give you a summary.
- Words of Affirmation - "Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten."
- Quality Time - "In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful."
- Receiving Gifts - "Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures."
- Acts of Service - "Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter."
- Physical Touch - "This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive."
So as Valentine's Day comes, remember to put your spouse first, but not just for the day but for every day. As you pray for him/her, spend time with them and speak his/her love language, I hope you will see and be rewarded with wonderful dividends in your marriage.
"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”