Do you think your wife is pretty? Do you tell her you think she is?
Does your husband provide well for your family? Do you tell him how much you appreciate all of his hard work to provide?
It’s so easy to neglect saying the kind things you’re thinking about your spouse. Honestly, it’s easy to forget to think nice things about your spouse after a while. Not because you’re angry with them, but simply because they can become a part of the scenery. You see them, but you don’t see them.
Or, they can become like part of the support team in your life. The mailman brings your mail every day without fail. You expect it. The bus driver picks up your kids for school every day. You expect it. Your spouse plays out their role in the family. You expect nothing less. You take them for granted and all is good. But is it really good?
I began this article by asking about words you say to your spouse. That’s because neglecting to say kind things and neglecting to show appreciation are some of the first signs that a couple is beginning to take each other for granted.
When I signed up for marriage, it was because a charming young man who always looked good, smelled good, and acted good spent lots of time with me. During that time, he made me feel special. He asked me about myself. He told me about himself. He tried to make me laugh. He said kind words. He looked at me like I was special to him.
I believe he signed up for marriage for similar reasons. You probably had a similar experience.
Here’s a question for you: Would your spouse marry you today based on how you make them feel on a regular basis?
Now before you push back at me, let me say that I understand that married life is different than dating life. Even the chemicals in your body are different now. While you’re dating you experience limerence. When you’re married, you settle into a more mature kind of love. When you’re dating, there aren’t kids to take care of (usually). When you’re married, there may be kids that take boatloads of your time and energy.
That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m not talking about your hormones or the logistics of your life.
I’m talking about the fact that everyone likes to feel special. People marry another person who makes them feel special. People marry a person who makes them feel appreciated. Everyone likes to feel appreciated. More than that, everyone needs to feel appreciated. Especially by their spouse.
Perhaps you haven’t gone out of your way to make your spouse feel appreciated in a while because he or she isn’t exactly trying to make you feel special. That’s understandable. It’s hard to make a special effort to make someone else feel good when your own emotional needs are not being met. It’s understandable that you would feel that way, but it’s not what’s best for your marriage. If there’s going to be a change toward more appreciation and emotional closeness, one of you is going to have to make the first move. Something has to intentionally change. Your marriage will continue on the path it’s currently taking unless something (you or your spouse) steps in and makes a change.
You may be thinking that it’s okay if your marriage just keeps coasting for a little longer because you seriously can’t think of a way to change things up for the better right now. The danger in allowing your marriage to coast, the danger in seeing your spouse as part of the scenery, is that marriage can never really be stationary. Your marriage has a life, and living things must be nurtured so that they don’t die. Living things are either developing or declining.
You don’t want to wake up one day and realize that your spouse felt taken for granted and under-appreciated one day too many and has decided to make some changes in their life that don’t involve you anymore. Even if nothing that extreme ever happens, you don’t want to get to the end of your life and have regrets that you didn’t cherish your spouse in the way they deserved. That you left love on the table instead of being all in. That you failed the one person who committed their life to you.
But you still can’t think of a way to change things up. It seems overwhelming to you to take on one more thing in your life right now.
I don’t believe that you have to do something big and expensive and time-consuming for it to make a difference in a relationship. Here are a few suggestions for you to try:
- take on a chore that your spouse usually does for the family, just once or from now on.
- compliment your spouse about something every day
- hold hands when you walk or sit near each other. (Intentionally be close to them at home and on outings.)
- text throughout the day. (can be flirty, funny, or sweet)
- write a love note and leave it in a place so that they will find it when they’re away from you.
- be in the same room when possible; it opens up the possibility of connecting in other ways.
- volunteer for the same activities; it will increase your time together and what you have in common.
- say a prayer together at night before you fall asleep; include things you are grateful for in your life and about each other
Or, maybe your spouse would feel appreciated and special if you stopped doing something that you are currently doing. (If something just came to mind, that’s probably the thing to stop doing or saying.)
Your spouse should be the most important person in your life. More than that, your spouse should feel like the most important person in your life. Making that happen is up to you.