Read along as Heidi Poelman, author of The Two Minute Secret for Staying in Love, gives you easy tips for keeping your love alive!
This morning, shortly after I heard the strumming of my 6:20 a.m. alarm, I heard footsteps. I know that sound well because I hear it almost every morning. My husband, Scott, leaned over, kissed me on the cheek, and handed me the most blessed gift: a cold glass of orange juice. He knows I love waking up that way. Not too much, just a sip or two. It didn’t take him long to pour that little glass and walk it upstairs, but the gesture pulled my heartstrings and I remembered yet again how much I love him.
Over several decades of research, the marriage experts have come to one powerful conclusion about love: Keeping it alive takes regular, ongoing, intentional effort. It’s not an expensive annual getaway (although that never hurt anyone). It’s not fancy jewelry or cars. Love grows with a simple fanning of the romantic fire every single day. Here are seven ways you can love your spouse today:
1. Think Nice Thoughts
Lao Tzu once said “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” It all starts with your thoughts. Intentionally choosing to be positive and give the benefit of the doubt is powerful mind work. So, instead of thinking “Why is he always late?”, find a charitable thought to focus on, such as “Wow, I am so blessed to have someone who cares so much about cleaning up before we leave.” Every strength has a weakness and every weakness has a strength. Find the good—it will lead you to a better destiny.
2. Say Kind Words
This may be your spouse’s most powerful love language. But for anyone, words matter. After years of marriage, it’s easy for any couple to start taking each other for granted. Consider the things you love about your spouse and what you are grateful for, then let your thoughts be known! You can boost your loved one’s confidence, sense of self-worth, and connection just by speaking love, kindness, and gratitude. Whether it’s “You look handsome today” or “I really appreciate you taking out the garbage,” speak up and let your spouse know you care.
3. Bring Home a Gift
I know it’s cliche, but I never tire of Scott bringing home flowers. It didn’t take a whole lot of time or cost him too much. (In fact, I’d rather he not spend a lot. It’s the gesture that matters.) One little daisy is as romantic to me as a dozen roses. A gift says “I thought about you today.” I try to do the same for him every now and again by bringing home one of his favorite treats. He knows I was thinking about him at the store. Flame fanned.
4. Plan a Date
Scott and I are religious about date night. Truly, whether we were swapping baby duty with friends so we could get away, paying a sitter when we could finally afford it and our kids were young, or now pinning down one of our older kids to be in charge for the night—we are getting our date night. It really doesn’t have to be an expensive night out. We started off our marriage by sharing a dish called Chicken Giardino at Olive Garden (along with those delicious breadsticks and salad). We could get away spending $14 total. Just asking your spouse out says “I love you.”
5. Do Something Selfless
Last night when we were trying to pick the Sunday night movie with our four kids, we whittled it down to two choices. When the kids asked “Dad, what do you want to watch?” he simply said, “Whatever Mom wants.” I felt his love. He was thinking more of me than of himself. Selfless service can come in so many ways, whether it’s letting your spouse choose the movie, giving a foot massage, washing her car, or ironing his shirts. As an added bonus—selflessness begets more selflessness in a positive spiral of affection. Try it out and see the results.
6. Call or Send a Text
Yesterday I knew Scott had a big pitch at work around lunchtime. Just before then, I sent him a text with a meme of a funny guy in a suit pointing and saying “You’ll be brilliant.” It took me all of thirty seconds, but this morning he brought it up and said, “Thanks for remembering my big meeting. Your text made a difference.” These little things are so easy to overlook, but they can be powerful in their impact.
7. Say I’m Sorry and I Forgive You
Loving someone doesn’t mean you’ll never have friction. We are different people and we impact each other every day. We are bound to disagree, get frustrated, and fight from time to time. Don’t sweat it. That doesn’t mean your marriage is on the rocks. One of the most healing things you can do for your spouse is to be the first one to say “I’m sorry.” It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong. Chances are you were both right and wrong in different ways. Own your part and put the relationship first. And when your spouse says “I’m sorry,” don’t hold a grudge. “I forgive you” is a key phrase to use as often as you can.
After twenty years of marriage and dozens of interviews with happily married couples, I have learned that love takes work. But the effort is worth it. We all want our spouse to feel cherished, and we want to feel cherished too. Whether you’ve been married for a day or for decades, you can keep your love alive one small and simple step at a time. So pick up a pen, pick up your phone, or pick up some flowers—you might be amazed at what happens next.