Relationships can be difficult and hard to maintain.
In the midst of busy schedules and crazy work lives and our kids’ school and sports, it can be all too easy to take your spouse for granted. Past hurts, miscommunications and unmet expectations are all factors that can cause relationships to become strained and sometimes break.
In many cases, simple changes can make a huge difference in our relationships. Here are 5 ways to love your spouse more intentionally:
1. Take one action step each day.
If you know your spouse’s love languages, you can do one thing each day to communicate in that love language. If one’s love language is words of affirmation, slip a note into a pocket where it’ll be found later or share one thing you love about the other before bed each night. Set a daily reminder on your phone to do one practical thing to let your spouse know they are valued.
2. Be mindful of your partner’s wants and feelings.
One of the best definitions of love is “to seek the highest and best for the other person, regardless of our own wants and desires.” If both parties in the relationship are working from that position, each is seeking to consistently serve the other. More often than not, both parties will thrive in that servant-minded relationship.
3. Communicate with your spouse.
If only we could read minds, relationships would be so much simpler. Since we can’t do that, creating a safe environment for both parties to share those vulnerable thoughts, feelings and needs is essential. Healthy communication can only happen if each person feels comfortable sharing those hard truths.
4. Feel the feeling but don’t stop there.
We all get hurt or angry at times. That is a normal human response. The Bible says “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). The sin is not in having strong feelings, but in how we react to and respond with those feelings.
Our emotions are vital for letting us know that something is amiss or for signaling our mind that something deeper just got alerted. It’s okay to feel hurt or angry, but take a moment — or many moments — to dig down to understand where that is coming from. Then hop back to that bit about communicating with your spouse.
5. Say thank you.
There are so many things to be thankful for each day.
Find one of them, and be intentional. If you’re having trouble with seeing those small blessings, ask the Lord to show them to you day by day. By practicing gratitude, we can undermine Satan’s attempts at slowly building a wall of resentment between you and your spouse.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Dave Walsh is pastor of Ariton Baptist Church in Alabama and has been married to his wife, Tracy, for nearly 40 years.