You tell your spouse you love them every day, right? If you're like me, you probably say it multiple times a day. If you're also like me, you know you need to step up your game and stop sucking as a wife, so you're reading this post with hopes that you will start putting more effort into your marriage or relationship. Or maybe you're reading this and hoping your husband will start putting some more effort in. Even if you're already putting effort in and your spouse isn't, I think putting more effort in is key in many situations. Why? Because they will see that you're putting extra effort in, and hopefully will return the favor.
This isn't a “kiss your husband's ass” post, by any means. If your husband's a douchebag, instead of you reading this post… send it to him… tell him to shape up or ship out because if he doesn't start showing you some love, you're gonna run off and get a wife. Jussssst kidding. Sort of.
Mostly I'm writing this post because I know there has to be someone else out there that's at least a little like I am: you love your significant other, but you don't always know how to show it. Romance and compliments don't come naturally to you, and you're so drained from work, school, kids, or whatever else, that putting extra effort into loving your spouse is the last thing you have the energy to do. But you know you need to do it. You know they deserve it, and you are ready to show them how amazing you think they are.
So many of my relationships were ruined because we both sucked at communication and didn't understand the importance of showing someone how much we cared about each other. The one relationship that I put effort into before this one, well, he was so self-centered that no matter what I did, it never would've been good enough. That stayed with me. When I met Rachel, I fell head over heels and I knew I needed to work hard at our relationship if we ever had any problems, because I never wanted to lose her! For the most part, our relationship has been great. I think our biggest issue is communication, so we've been talking a lot more lately and trying to make sure we don't jump to conclusions, even when we have a disagreement.
The key to success for me? Reading The 5 Love Languages. I cannot tell you how much this book has helped myself and many other people. You won't only learn how to communicate in a more effective way, you'll learn how to love all over again – and how to show your spouse that you love them. In this book, the author explains how there are five different “love languages”, and they are each as different as English and Chinese might be if you try to learn one as your second language. I'm in a 5 Love Languages group, and here are a few things that have been posted recently that really helped give me some ideas on how to SHOW love better. I understand that Rachel needs to be shown love, and romance. That isn't something I've ever had to do before, and it doesn't come naturally to me at all!
First and foremost, before we even get to the tips, I'm going to tell you the most important tip of all: PUT DOWN YOUR DAMN PHONE! I cannot tell you how many times I've seen couples sitting together, one trying to get the other's attention while the other is just scrolling along on Facebook. I get it, you love social media – so do I! But your spouse is supposed to be #1 in your life and if you're mindlessly scrolling and “liking” pictures while they're trying to connect, you're not only ruining your relationship, you're being an asshole! So… let's make a deal to stop that mess right now.
7 Ways to Show Your Spouse You Love Them
NOTE: These tips are based on the book, The 5 Love Languages. The parts in italics are taken from the group I'm in. The rest are my own comments.
1. When your spouse arrives at home, meet him/her one step earlier than usual and give them a big hug. I'm doing this tomorrow when she gets home from work! Usually, I am sitting at the computer (which is right inside the entrance to our house), and I look up, say “hi”, and maybe reach out for a hug if her arms aren't full. Getting up and greeting her, maybe making her some water or lemonade because I know she's worked hard all day, would definitely show her I'm putting in 10 times the effort that I usually do. How would your spouse feel if they knew you dropped everything you were doing just to greet them at the door? I know I'd feel pretty darn amazing.
2. Riding down the road together, reach over and touch your significant other. I have noticed that when I do this with Rach – reach over and put my hand on her leg while she is driving – she will crack a little smile. Not a big one… but one that I notice, and makes me want to work harder to make sure she knows I love her.
3. Plan a weekend getaway just for the two of you sometime within the next six months. I do this as frequently as possible. For our 7th anniversary this past January, I took her to Denver, Colorado. It was only a 3-day trip, but it was a trip away from work, and away from chores, kids, etc. I hate the cold, so the trip definitely wasn't for me, but I knew she would love it so I planned everything! I booked our flights, hotel, etc and then surprised her with all of it. On the trip, I used my phone/laptop minimally, only when absolutely required for work. She appreciated it and told me so several times!
Even if you can't plan a weekend getaway, you can plan a date night. No excuses! :)
4. Discover the value of ‘handmade originals’. Make a gift for your spouse. Valentine's Day was a week ago, and I did just that! I made her some homemade soaps. What is something your spouse would appreciate if you made for them? Even if it's something simple like laundry detergent, I promise if it's useful, they will appreciate it. Bonus points if it smells good!
5. Ask your spouse to make a list of ten things he/she would like for you to do during the next month, and prioritize them 1 through 10. I won't lie; I'm kind of nervous to do this one. Why? Because if she asks me to do dishes, I'm going to be very sad. I hate dishes. In fact, I paid my mom to do the dishes for me this week because I wanted the house to be clean when Rach got home, but I didn't want to touch dirty dishes. If it gets done, that's all that matters, right?
Anyway, asking for a list of things they'd like you to do is probably one of the coolest things you could do for your spouse. If there's anything they've wanted to get finished but just haven't had time, let them push it off onto you. I'm sure you're thinking, “I'm busy enough already! They should be doing this for ME! I have kids, school, work…” and the list goes on. But in reality, what's going to happen is this: they're going to give you a list, and they're going to absolutely LOVE that you're willing to help them out. In exchange, they're going to end up cooking dinner for you one night… or watching the kids while you watch Netflix… I mean, the possibilities are endless! I know it might not always work out perfectly – one of you will always have a bigger workload than the other – but I really do think it's worth a try to have them create a “honey do” list for you, and see how it goes.
6. Walk up to your spouse and say, ‘Have I told you lately that I Love You?' Take her in your arms and hug her while you rub her back. This suggestion is super corny, and Rachel and I would end up cracking up laughing – or she'd be like, “What'd you do? What's wrong? Why are you being so weird?” It did give me an idea though. She always (always! ugh!) asks me to rub or scratch her back at night when I finally crawl into bed. She goes to bed at like 8, and then I work for another 4 hours or so and zombie walk into bed at about midnight. By the time my head hits the pillow, I don't want to rub her freaking back! I actually hate when she asks me to do it, but once I started thinking about it, I realized that she never asks me for anything else – so, I should suck it up and rub or scratch her back.
Rubbing her back takes little effort, and little time, even. I could rub her back for 5 minutes and she'd be the happiest person in the world. Instead of whining about how tired I am, instead of ignoring her and pretending I'm asleep (shhh!), I'm going to start rubbing/scratching her back for a few minutes each night. She works really hard on the farm all day, she gets up with the kids so I can sleep in. The least I can do is rub her back!
7. Write a love letter; love paragraph; love sentence to your spouse, and give it quietly or with fan fare. Chances are you will find your love letter tucked away in some special place. I did this when we first met. I was too nervous to talk to her about serious stuff, so I'd write her letters and give them to her while we were at work (that's where we met). This was 7 years ago and she still, to this day, carries one of those letters with her in her wallet. She pulls it out from time to time and reads it, and we laugh, and back in her wallet it goes. That was one letter, seven years ago! I didn't feel that it was significant in any way, but obviously she did – and still does. Writing your spouse a love letter might sound cheesy, because it kind of is, but if their Love Language is anything like Rachel's, it's something you should do, for sure.
I didn't write this post for those that are having major relationship troubles. I wouldn't ever pretend to understand them or be a counselor that could help with them. I don't want you to think I'm trying to condone staying in a shitty relationship, because I'm not. If you're having marriage or relationship issues, I 100% suggest going to counseling. If that's not an option, and your relationship is making you truly unhappy, there's NOTHING wrong with leaving! I wrote this post just in case there's anyone out there, like me, that is in a great relationship but needs an extra little nudge to put some more effort into it.
I think understanding Love Languages and putting effort into a relationship helps you just as much as it helps your relationship. I know that since I've started putting more effort into showing Rachel that I love her, I've felt much better about myself. The “sucky wife” guilt isn't there as much, and I've also noticed that our conversations aren't as tense. You know, after work and you're both tired and you want to run away and leave the other with the kids? Usually we'd be a little short with each other if we had bad days, but now it's much more relaxing and words flow freely. Why? I'm not sure why… maybe she notices how much better I am doing with the kids, the house, and showing her how much I love her. That's what I'm hoping!
Have you read the 5 Love Languages? What'd you think? Let me know in the comments!
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