When we get married, we are in love. I mean, why else would we choose to commit our lives to someone that we didn’t think was the bees knees?
But then something changes. Those butterflies start to die down. Their quirks that used to be so cute start to become annoying. Those things about them that are so different from ourselves, the things that mesmerized us at first, are beginning to drive us nuts.
So what gives? Why is love so difficult?
This Valentine’s Day, I challenge you to take another look at your marriage. Think about why you married that person in the first place. Out of billions of people on this earth, you chose THEM.
Remember that no matter how hard things may seem right now, that person can still be just as special to you as they once were. Sometimes we need to go through dark and dreary seasons to grow! Here are some things you can do to revive your marriage this Valentine’s Day.
- If you wrote your own vows, read them to each other again. Or better yet… renew your vows! Have a party! Recommit your lives to each other. We aren’t perfect, and over time we tend to forget the things we had promised to each other. Read those again to remind yourself of why you chose each other in the first place. If you didn’t have unique vows, look back at pictures and talk about how you first met. Relive your first date! Do something to remind yourselves of why you fell in love in the first place.
- Choose to respect your spouse, whether they “deserve” it or not. There is something incredibly powerful about respect. Just think about it. If you’re having a really bad day and your husband walks in the door, a positive comment or a display of affection might really lift your mood. But one even slightly negative or degrading comment could send you into hysterics. Am I right? It works the same way for your spouse. Choose to respect him, even if he’s being terrible. Your response to his bad attitude or actions might change things for the better. Give him the benefit of the doubt that you would expect him to give you.
- Learn how to really listen. There is nothing worse than pouring your heart out to someone and then realizing that they weren’t even listening to you. I feel like it’s pretty common in marriage to stop listening. Life can be so mundane, and when every normal day seems to be so repetitive, we tend to stop listening because things don’t seem exciting. But the best way to really show love to your spouse is to really listen. Put you phone down and LISTEN. Repeat things back to show you are listening, ask questions and make comments. Your spouse will definitely notice.
- Communicate your expectations & frustrations. Unmet expectations are the #1 cause of all frustrations. Either share you expectations with your spouse, or get rid of them all together. It’s unfair to expect your spouse to read your mind. Let him know what you expect him to do for you and how you expect him to treat you. Don’t give him the cold shoulder when he doesn’t understand why you’re angry. Get rid of that grudge – it’s going to really hurt your relationship in the long run.
- Don’t stop making out. My husband and I made this mistake somewhere between our wedding day and when we had our first child. We couldn’t figure out why it seemed like it was missing something from earlier in our love life. We finally realized that the “fire” we were missing was romance! We weren’t kissing anymore just to kiss. We weren’t snuggling for the thrill of our bodies touching. We weren’t flirting with each other anymore. Start acting like you are dating again! Have a make out session in the car after a date. Snuggle on the couch. Revive the passion and romance and see what happens.
- Remember that no matter who you marry, you will always have to deal with their issues and struggles. Everybody has struggles and weaknesses, and ditching this marriage to move on to another one isn’t going to help anything. Each person in this world has things about them that are ugly. Choose to look at the positive sides of your spouse today, and encourage and help them through their weaknesses. You chose this person for a reason, so focus on the things that attracted you in the first place.
- Learn their love language. When I first got married, I was putting so much effort into showing love to my spouse. I would do chores for him, get his clothes and towel set out for his shower, clean the house, make big dinners, make sure his laundry was done. But he felt so unloved. I felt unloved too. But he was constantly touching me, squeezing me, kissing me and wanted to spend every single night with me. He felt like his needs were unmet, and I felt smothered. It wasn’t until a few months later we realized that his love languages were Quality Time & Touch – while mine were Acts of Service & Words of Affirmation! Talk about polar opposites! It’s still a struggle sometimes when all he wants is sex, while I would like him to tell me everything he loves about me. But just like anything else, marriage takes effort and knowing your love languages can take you a long way in not only loving your spouse better, but understanding how they are showing you love and learning to appreciate their efforts even if they aren’t exactly what you would choose.
- Treat your marriage like a garden. Plants don’t grow if you don’t regularly weed and water them. If you don’t attend to them, they will die. Marriage is the same way. When you noticed negative feelings and tendencies popping up, weed them out. Talk about them openly and get rid of them. Take the time to pour into your marriage. Do things together. Be intimate. Do things for your spouse that they love. This is how you can keep your marriage growing. Remember: Even healthy plants have weeds that need to be pulled. Every good marriage will require tending to get rid of the bad things – it doesn’t mean you are headed towards divorce. It just means you need to spend a little time working things out.
- Compliment your spouse. Make an effort to talk about how much you love them. Talk to other people about how awesome he is. Tell him every day how thankful you are for everything he does. Tell him he’s sexy. Tell him all the little things you love about his personality and his body. Even if you are having a hard time right now and don’t really believe those things, talking about him like that is sure to revive some of those old feelings in your heart.
- Pray for & with your spouse. There is nothing more powerful than prayer. Make it a priority to pray with your spouse everyday. Pray for them when you are alone. If there are things that bother you about him or your marriage in general, you can pray about them instead of sharing them with him if you want to spare his feelings. It’s also very hard to pray for someone and be angry with them. Prayer has been one of the ways that I get over hard feelings without ever having to have that awkward conversation. Prayer together is a great way to grow closer in a deeper way than ever.
The key to a happy marriage is really simple: Treat your spouse the way you would want to be treated. Love them unconditionally. Give them respect. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Forgive quickly.
If you do these things, I guarantee you that you can live a long and happy life with that one person that you chose over everyone else. This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to look beyond the everyday struggles and annoyances, and see in your spouse that person you fell madly in love with. Choose to see the best, and try to be your best.
Happy Valentine’s Day!