Unless you were married last Saturday, you probably take your marriage for granted. It is so easy to do. Life gets busy and you turn your attention to the fires that need to be put out instead of fanning the flames of marital romance. We can fall into the trap of being so close to our spouse that we forget the good thing we have. So, here are 5 ways you can say “thank you” to your spouse.
1. Eye contact.
Stop and think about it, when is the last time you really looked in your spouse’s eyes? Eye contact is a powerful thing. Loving, face-to-face attention is a dying quality among couples. We stare at the TV and our phones and rarely, if ever, give our spouse the gift our our undivided attention. Eye contact is a language all its own. You can see love, fear, doubt, insecurity, peace and appreciation in someone’s eyes, all without them saying a word. There is a type of eye contact that can be shared between husband and wife that is as intimate as a touch. Test the theory, take some time to intentionally give your spouse eye contact (it will likely require you turning off your phone or the TV). If it’s been a while, you may have to muscle through the awkwardness, but your spouse will read your eyes and sense your love and appreciation.
2. Unsolicited serving.
Every married person should have the advantage of knowing their spouse well enough to predict what they will appreciate. Acts of service are always nice, but unsolicited acts of service feel like a blessing. In order to serve in this way, you must get over yourself and find contentment in serving. You must cut the strings that serving is a bargaining chip for something you want later. Unsolicited serving can be an expression of love that is purely for the good of your spouse. What are those one or two acts of service you know your spouse will appreciate? Test the theory, give the gift of service, without being asked, with no strings attached, strictly as an act of love and gratitude.
3. Write a letter.
Remember letters? We used to look forward to opening the mail box to see a hand addressed envelope with our name on it. It was personal and made us feel important. Text messages, email and instant messaging cannot replace the intentionality of a hand written letter. Don’t make excuses that you have poor handwriting; most people do. Just try hard enough to make it legible! A hand written letter to your spouse is a special gift of gratitude because it removes your presence from the situation. Your spouse is completely in a position of receiving. And unlike a typical conversation, the letter commits your gratitude to print. Your spouse is able to read it over and over and feel loved and appreciated over and over. Test the theory. Pull out the pen and paper and tell your spouse how much you appreciate them. Be sure to cite specific reasons why you are grateful. Then, seal it, address it, stamp it and mail it.
4. Give them a non-holiday, non-birthday gift.
Take the time to hunt down a gift that you think your spouse will enjoy. It does not have to be expensive. It simply represents the fact that you pay attention to the things they say. So often, gifts for birthdays and holidays fall into the category of obligation and some of the meaning is lost. When you surprise your spouse with a thoughtful gift, it tells them that you truly value and appreciate them. Test the theory, think of a simple gift you can give your spouse. (Men, gift wrap it.) Leave it for them to find unsuspectingly. Include a simple note that says, “This gift is an excuse to tell you how thankful I am for you."
5. Develop your character.
I know this sounds like something coming from left field, but hang with me. We all have character flaws. And our character flaws often negatively affect our spouse. The health of your marriage rises and falls on character. When you do what is necessary to develop your character, you are more than likely answering the prayers (or the nagging) of your spouse. Your willingness to listen to your spouse’s feedback and make adjustments is a sign of maturity. And don’t miss this…NOTHING IS MORE ATTRACTIVE THAN MATURITY. Developing your character says to your spouse, “you are more important than my bad attitudes or bad habits." Test the theory, identify one of your character flaws. Devise a plan to truly bring positive change in that area of your life. Be careful, resist the temptation to announce your plans to change, simply address the character flaw and let your spouse notice the change over time.
Hope this makes sense. During this time of the year and thanksgiving, remember to be thankful for the one person you love most.