“Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.” – Tom Mullen
It’s easy to fall in love and to marry the person you’ve fallen for; it’s a much bigger endeavor to nurture that love for a lifetime. The good news is, it can definitely be done! We’ve created a list of 21 ways to love the one you married. Put even a few of these into motion, and you’ll see your relationship continue to blossom and thrive over the years together. Let’s jump in!
1. OFFER YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.
Nothing is more validating than giving your spouse your undivided attention when they are speaking to you. When you intentionally make time to put distractions aside and focus on your spouse, they’ll feel loved, heard, and seen.
2. ASK TO SEE THEIR CREATIONS.
If your spouse is a creative person, show an interest in his or her paintings, writing, woodworking, drawings, music, poetry, etc. Engage with your spouse about what they’ve made or built, ask about their creative process, and show an interest in the materials they used to pull it all together. Praise their work and encourage them to continue creating.
3. LISTEN TO THEIR DREAMS.
Your spouse’s innermost dreams are precious; when they reveal dreams, goals, or ambitions to you, treat them as such. Even if a dream he or she shares doesn’t resonate with you at first, keep in mind that this is very personal for your spouse, and be willing to be receptive to it.
4. LAUGH AT THEIR JOKES.
Does your spouse have a funny bone–and enjoy tickling yours? Laugh at their jokes! It can be easy to let the stressors of life get to you, and stress can kill your sense of humor like nothing else. Don’t let it keep you from enjoying your spouse’s wit.
5. ALLOW THEM TO FULLY BE THEMSELVES.
You fell in love with your spouse because of the unique combination of features that makes them who they are–right? There may be times when some of your spouse’s qualities aren’t as attractive to you as they used to be…but allow them to be themselves, anyway. Your spouse will recognize and appreciate the freedom you give them to be who they truly are at heart.
6. MARVEL AT THEIR TALENTS.
You can never give your spouse too many “wows.” Is your husband great with kids? Let him know he amazes you! Is your wife a fantastic dancer? Tell her how great she is. Talents and gifts are God-given, and it’s our job as husbands and wives to recognize our spouse’s talents and revel in them.
7. BE A SAFE SPACE FOR VULNERABILITY.
You can love your spouse well by allowing them the safety to be fully vulnerable with you. Let them share their fears and weaknesses with you, in addition to their triumphs. Be generous in your willingness to be there for your spouse, and be a judgment-free zone for them.
8. SHOW UP FOR THEIR IMPORTANT MOMENTS.
Being present for your spouse’s victories–and being their biggest cheerleader–is critical to loving them well. Is your husband or wife being presented with an award, receiving a promotion, or giving a performance? Be there. If you can’t be present at the event itself, head up the celebration!
9. PUT THEIR NEEDS BEFORE YOUR OWN.
Selflessness is the key to a successful, happy marriage. Consider what your spouse may need or want before you plow ahead with your own decisions and plans. Give them the courtesy of making them a priority; sometimes, they’ll take you up on the offer, and sometimes they’ll defer to your needs and preferences.
10. BE A GOOD LISTENER.
Too often, it’s easy to tune out your spouse’s words as you wrack your brain for your own response. When you communicate–especially when you’re attempting to resolve a conflict–listen carefully to what your spouse is saying, and echo back what you hear.
11. LET THEM HAVE A “POOR BABY” DAY ONCE IN AWHILE.
We don’t always get the luxury of wallowing in whatever has upset us; once in awhile, give your spouse the gift of a “poor baby” day when they’ve had a difficult day at work, school, or home. Give them a hug, a break from any obligations you’re able to relieve them from, and just let them know you’re there for them.
12. TELL THE TRUTH IN LOVE.
Sometimes your spouse needs to hear honesty from you that may not be pleasant to receive. In these cases, communicate with as much gentleness and understanding as possible. While you may believe that being “brutally honest” or “telling the hard truth” will be most effective in getting your point across, in reality, what your spouse needs is the truth spoken in love.
13. GIVE WITHOUT EXPECTATION.
Showing generosity to your spouse without expecting them to reciprocate every time is a great way to demonstrate your love for them. If you see things that need to be done, take care of them without spectacle. If your spouse needs help with something, help them without asking for anything in return.
14. RESPECT THEIR LIMITATIONS.
Loving your spouse entails knowing what their limitations are. Avoid placing unrealistic expectations on them that they won’t be able to fulfill, and be cognizant of the limitations their individual personality traits may put on their ability to perform in certain situations.
15. HAVE EYES ONLY FOR THEM.
One of the best ways to love the person you married is to only have eyes for him or her. Don’t let your eyes, mind, or heart wander to anyone other than your spouse. Even during difficult times in your marriage, train yourself to focus your attentions on your spouse–because hard times eventually pass, and you’ll be so glad you stayed true to your husband or wife.
16. COMPLIMENT THEM.
Offering positive affirmations to your spouse at every opportunity is a great way to nurture your marriage. Compliment their appearance or tell them why you love them. Saying, “I love you because, _____,” is a great exercise in demonstrating how you feel.
17. STAY ON THE SAME TEAM.
Remember, you two aren’t enemies! While there may be some tough times in your marriage, it’s always worth it to stay on your spouse’s team. When you come out on the other side of the hard times, your relationship will be stronger and more resilient than before.
18. FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM ALL OVER AGAIN.
Time changes people. When you commit to a lifetime together, you’re committing to love a growing, changing person for the rest of your lives. Embrace the changes and let yourself fall in love with your spouse time and time again.
19. MAKE NEW MEMORIES TOGETHER.
While reminiscing about your past is a great way to stay connected, continually making new memories together is also a powerful way to love your one and only. Do fun and special things together that you’ll remember for years to come.
20. LEARN TO SPEAK THEIR LOVE LANGUAGES.
Everyone speaks in a different love language (sometimes, more than one!). You can take this quiz to learn what your love languages are, then adjust the ways you approach one another to fit the ways that you each receive love best.
21. TREAT THEM LIKE YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.
What better way to love your spouse than by applying the Golden Rule? If you find yourself at a loss when it comes to showing love to the person you married, carefully consider how you’d like for them to care for you, then do the same for them.