It can be easy to over complicate what it takes to have a healthy, thriving marriage. We can look at our spouse’s needs and feel it necessary to make grandiose plans to show our love. Most often, however, showing consistent, small acts of affection and appreciation can go further and last longer than a weekend away, an expensive gift, or even a big vacation.
Having a great marriage happens how most everything does: by making one intentional, meaningful step at a time. If you are stuck in a rut, or simply looking for ways to make a good marriage a great one, here are 8 ridiculously simple ways to improve your marriage.
1. Say, “Thank you.”
If your spouse does something that you recognize and appreciate, say thank you. This seems obvious, but our expectations can sometimes be unhealthy, and we too often take our spouse’s actions for granted. Show gratitude especially if they do something above and beyond your ask or your expectations. Saying thank you is not only positive reinforcement, but an act of love.
2. Praise your spouse in public.
Think about the last time somebody praised you in public or in front of your friends and family. Remember how good that made you feel? Praising your spouse in public has to be one of the most simple and yet most powerful ways to improve your marriage. It sends an immediate sense of deep appreciation to them and also sets a tone for the future. Take those opportunities as often as you can. If you haven’t done this lately, do it the very next chance you get!
3. Show physical affection.
Men, the answer to improving your marriage may be as easy as grabbing your wife’s hand, or putting your arm around her at church. Just one touch to the knee or a small kiss on a regular basis will tell your wife how much you love her. And ladies, this is your call, too! Men are often driven by physical affection. They love your touch! Often, they live for it. It takes no planning, just awareness and the willingness to make it a priority. Take time to show these acts of affection and see what it can do over time.
4. Send texts or emails throughout the day just to say you are thinking of them.
Similar to saying thank you, if you are thinking of your spouse throughout the day, tell them! Otherwise, how are they supposed to know? As we part ways for work, school or as parents, it can be so easy to live our separate lives during the day and come together at night. But how great is it to get those small reminders throughout the day from your spouse? “I love you,” “I am praying for you,” “I can’t wait to see you,” or just a simple, “I am thinking about you,” can bridge those longs gaps in the day you spend apart and, over time, can really strengthen your marriage.
5. Say, “You look beautiful/handsome.”
I’m not sure you can say this enough. Men, this is especially important for you. Women want fewer things more than to be beautiful for you. They live for it. And when you tell them that is so, you have all but made their day. Tell her she is beautiful for different reasons. It may be when she is all dressed up, or perhaps it’s a typical day in her workout gear. This simply can’t be said enough. Women, you can do this too! Want to puff up your man? Tell him he is looks handsome as he walks out the door. You’re attracted to your spouse, right? Let them know!
6. Put your phone down.
Or any distraction for that matter. Simply put, our phones are killing our face-to-face relationships. Text messages, emails and phones calls steal time away from the people we vowed to love first and foremost. It can’t be said enough. Set boundaries with your technology time or it will steal away moments, little by little. Technology is a wonderful tool that can turn destructive if we don’t put it down, look the people we love in the eye and have conversations that matter. Without constant connection, your marriage will surely suffer. Set those boundaries and keep them. So simple, and so very necessary.
7. Pursue him/her sexually.
Without sex, your spouse is simply a best friend and roommate. We get it. Life gets crazy. You’re tired. You may feel far apart and sex isn’t appealing. But it is essential. Pursue your spouse. Men, this may look like warming your wife up throughout the day, sending her messages, letting her know you care. Women, this may mean initiating sex. Men love nothing more. We can forget that sex is a gift when life starts happening. But it one of the key differences between marriage and any other relationship we carry in life.
8. Be the first to apologize.
Conflict. Nobody loves it, but everybody has it. If you’re wrong, apologize–and do it quickly. Defuse the situation before it gets out of hand. Swallow that pride and step into humility. Be slow to speak, slow to anger and quick to apologize. Our words matter so much. We should use them wisely. Once said, they can be forgiven, but not always forgotten. Put this into practice next time you argue. If you’re wrong, say so. Move on. Life is too short and your marriage is too important.
These are just 8 suggestions for loving your spouse in simple ways. You don’t have to make grandiose gestures for love to be real. Find freedom from the pressure of big-time actions and choose to love in the little things We all want to be seen, loved and appreciated in our marriages, and we have endless, seemingly small opportunities to show that love daily. Start today. Be intentional. It may feel awkward at first, but keep going. Seeing your spouse warm up to you will be more than worth it. If your desire is to make a good marriage great, the answers may just be this simple!