We’ve all heard the saying that you never stop working on your house. As pretty and perfect as it is, there is always something to add or improve as the years go by — upgrade the landscaping, re-paint a bedroom, remodel the kitchen, add a patio cover or a pool, fix stuff, etc. And just when we finish one thing, a new one takes its place. Wait! Why are we talking about houses? Because they are a great analogy for relationships. We should always be putting good things into our marriage, too — whether our lives together couldn’t be any more perfect or it’s time to look at how to make everything better. Let’s have some love and fun!
This blog post is an extension of a conversation we started a month ago to help couples create and maintain healthy marriages. We talked about starting points, which include (in order) the heart, taking personal responsibility, practicing good self-care, and having positive self-talk. But what’s next? Logically, it’s the action of putting good things into your marriage.
Let’s spend the next few blogs sharing with you different things you can do to put positivity into the relationship.
If any couple wants to have a happy and have a satisfying marriage, they must make as many
Love Bank deposits as possible and avoid making withdrawals.
THE LOVE BANK
This is a simple concept, and yet, many marriage problems come from people not implementing it — either because they don’t know how or have forgotten. According to Dr. Willard Harley, inside all of us is a Love Bank (The Gottman Institute also refers to the Emotional Bank Account) with accounts in the names of everyone we know. When these people are associated with our good feelings, “love units” are deposited into their accounts, and when they are associated with our bad feelings, love units are withdrawn.
When an account reaches a certain threshold in marriage, a very special emotional reaction is triggered — romantic love. But as most married couples have discovered, the feeling of romantic love is much more fragile than originally thought. If Love Bank balances drop below the romantic love threshold, a couple not only loses their feeling of passion for each other, but they also lose their instinct to make each other happy.
What was once effortless now becomes awkward, and even repulsive. Instead of the look of love, couples have a look of apathy. And without love, a husband and wife no longer want to spend their lives together. Clearly, the Love Bank is an extremely important concept in marriage. But how can we keep your balances that high? And what can we do if they have already fallen below that threshold?
DEPOSITS TO THE LOVE BANK
Grand gestures are not the goal here. Instead, consider different little actions that deeply matter to the opposite sex:
- Acts of kindness (politeness or basic consideration of the other’s needs)
- Acts of sacrifice (doing something for your spouse; putting your spouse first)
- Considerate conversation and communicate understanding (listen to his or her wants, needs, and desires)
- Romantic expressions of affection (holding hands, touching, kissing, hugging, foot massage, unexpected note)
- Express appreciation daily (texting during the day, asking about how their day went)
- Deeds of friendship (thoughtfulness, compliments, sharing feelings, dreams, frustrations)
- Mindfulness of each other’s emotional needs (paying attention; making your spouse feel heard and valued)
These daily little comments and actions may seem so simple or minor that it is easy to discount them. But don’t. They are so powerful that they can transform a relationship. They signal how you feel in a way that your spouse will understand. It builds a deep confidence in their heart that “my spouse truly does care about me.”
Communicate to loved ones in ways they can receive rather than the ways we prefer.
Love language is a way that a person UNDERSTANDS that someone loves them and SHOWS love to others. We all have a preferred language of receiving love, and if our partner speaks that same love language, we hear it easily. If they don’t, we need to communicate as best we can to show them love in a way they can receive rather than the way we prefer.
For example, our friend’s spouse appreciates acts of service more than anything else. This could be when he folds the laundry or doing the dishes without being asked, or even offering to take care of the kids for a few hours so she can relax after a long day at work. But that’s just one example.
Hey guys!: Here are 20 Ways to Cherish your Wife and make her feel Amazing
According to Gary Chapman, there are five love languages:
- Words of Affirmation: Saying, “I love you.” Admiring, praising, or complimenting the partner; expressing positive feelings in words.
- Acts of Service: Doing nice things for the other, such as helping out or serving the other in a way that makes it clear that you are saying, “I care enough for you to go out of my way to spend my time to help you.”
- Gifts: Buying a gift or making a gift for the other says, “I was thinking of you, and I was willing to put my thoughts into action by getting something for you.” The gift could be small or large.
- Physical Touch or Closeness: Touching, patting, rubbing, back rubs, foot rubs, sexual caresses. This can also include being near the other, bumping up against the other, putting an arm around the other.
- Quality Time: Hanging out together, spending exclusive time, and talking together about things that are important to each of you. By having a meaningful conversation, you show that you care for the partner.
Take Chapman’s Love Language Quiz
Another activity you can do together is to review the Love Languages above and rank each of them for yourself. Then, each of you can guess at your partner’s ranking. Compare lists from there, and see where you can learn something new!
“There is FUN to be done! — Dr. Seuss
HAVE LOVE AND FUN
As we said earlier, love and relationships are fragile. Over time, we can lose track of the fun we used to have or how we always used to find ways to do things together. When you talk about putting good things into your marriage, FUN needs to be at the top of your list. It’s a great way to connect, find hope, and put the spark back into your relationship.
Just think of all the easy ways that you and your spouse could be having fun right now:
- Playing board games
- Making dinner together
- Build a snowman (maybe not so much in Texas)
- Play putt-putt
- Reenact your first date
- Host a wine night
- Take a road trip or day trip
- Find a pond and skip rocks together
- Get a couple’s massage
- Go on a hike
- Do some home improvements
- Dress up and go catch a movie
- Play in the rain together
All we are saying here is that relationships — much like our beautiful homes — must be worked on and appreciated over the long-term. It would be best if you become a pro at putting good things into your marriage. Stick with us over the next few weeks as we share more tips to improve your marriage.
Our heart is devoted to caring about people and marriages!
Our heart is devoted to caring about people. We want to ensure you have the tools to cherish each other’s heart and listen to it when it’s talking to you. The best way we know how to do that is by spreading the word to more people and let them know that we are here.
What do you think? What are some ways you are adding positivity to your marriage? How has that benefitted your marriage? Please send us a quick email and help us keep this conversation going. mike@MikeandSusanDawson.com