Have you ever heard the term, stagnant marriage? It’s when things in your relationship no longer feel exciting and fresh. It’s not that you don’t love one another. But, you’re both kinda just … there. This is normal, by the way — we just need to find a way to snap out of it. But how do we do that? As we learned last week, you have to keep putting good things into your marriage. Whether that be small acts of kindness like texting, “I love you,” speaking each other’s love language, or doing something fun like reenacting your first date, we have to constantly show how important we are to each other.
The good news is that those tips and tricks are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more couples can do not just to avoid a stagnant marriage but also to create and maintain a healthy marriage.
Here are three more ways you can put positivity into your relationship:
When we love and respect, we GIVE our spouse what they were created to receive.
And we serve our spouse out of purpose given to us by God.
LOVE AND RESPECT
Laurence Sterne once said that both love and respect are essential in any marriage relationship. Women want to be loved and feel loved, and men want to be respected. However, both partners need to feel a sense of respect at all times. We all want love and respect — but what does that look like in your relationship? What is it that you happily receive from your spouse that shows they understand, love, and respect you?
- Listening to each other
- Letting each other guide and direct
- Accepting each other’s influence
- Asking each other for our thoughts, wisdom, provisions, etc.
- Being gentle and humble
- Giving ourselves up to each other
- Making each other feel like we stand out, that we are important
- Looking to each other for security and protection
“Wives, submit yourself to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. … Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her …”
When a woman feels loved, and a man feels respected, they are emotionally safe. Their hearts stay open and connected. To unlock this part of our relationship, love and respect must be practiced every day. It must also be discussed and expressed so that we are always delivering what our spouse needs to receive. So often we think:
“I am going to love you by doing ________.” But is that how they receive love?
“I’m going to respect him by____.” But is this how he feels respected?
Both spouses can end up feeling defeated and like they have failed as a husband or a wife if they are giving what they think their spouse wants and needs but are not being successful in their spouse feeling loved and respected. To remedy this, here’s a quick exercise. Write down how you personally feel respected. Think of five things. Once you’re done with that, write down five more ways you personally feel loved. Don’t forget to have your spouse do the same thing. Now, share and have an open conversation with each other. Granted, these lists will likely grow and change as the years go on, but by talking about them now, you will each have a better understanding of how to give to each other what will really communicate love and respect.
If you want to learn more about this, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs wrote a book called Love & Respect that you can check out.
Being joyful comes from an active practice of gratitude.
APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE
One of the ways you can keep putting good things into your marriage is by creating a culture of appreciation and gratitude. This means consistently and intentionally being aware of the positive things your partner does that makes your lives together better. Even more than that, create an ongoing environment where both of you acknowledge the positive aspects of your personalities. Let your spouse know that you see and are grateful for the admirable qualities of who they are, their character, and how they live out their purpose.
Take a few moments to think about your partner’s attributes and character. Do they display any of the following? Circle five or six items on this list, and if there are more (including some that aren’t on here), then that’s even better. Jot them down. Next, share what you have with your spouse and include real-life examples of how you noticed them representing these characteristics and why that is so important to you.
Just like everything else, appreciation and gratitude need to be practiced. It needs to be shared, as it will certainly improve our connection with others.
And where your treasure is, there your heart will be also
TREASURE AND SERVE
God sees us, his creation, his children, as a treasure. We are very important to him: He says, I created you and formed you. I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. You are precious and honored in my sight, and I love you! (Isa 43).
So now comes the big question: Will you see your spouse as a treasure?
Will you see their heart? Let’s look at the main characteristics of a treasure.
- Valuable — Our hearts are very valuable, so what do we do with this valuable heart and treasure that is our spouse? We Protect their heart. And protect them. Cherish them as we would a very valuable treasure. We train ourselves to protect and cherish them. Plus practice seeing them all the time as valuable.
- Vulnerable — All of us are easily hurt. Yes, both men and women can be hurt very easily by the ones we love the most. So what do we do? We are very careful with this valuable, vulnerable heart. And so we also are gentle with how we treat them and how we speak to them. Be sensitive toward your spouse because the heart is EASILY hurt!
Beyond treasuring our spouse, there is the concept of serving them. Jimmy Evans said that “we intuitively understand why the world’s best businesses and restaurants are the ones providing the best service. That’s the secret to a great marriage, too: a husband and wife who are constantly serving each other.”
The best kind of marriage is built upon two servants in love—two people who are committed to meeting one another’s needs for the rest of their lives. Why is this so important? Evans goes on to share four reasons:
Equality — Men and women are equal, and for your marriage to work, you’re going to have to put your spouse’s needs ahead of your own. It shows your spouse that you understand that you’re no better than him or her.
Humility — We are naturally prideful. Pride issues are universal for men and women. Serving keeps you humble.
Intimacy — Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” You can’t have your treasure in one place and your passion somewhere else. So if you’re serving your children or other people or yourself all day long — but you’re not serving your spouse — then you’re in danger of your passion fizzling out.
Destiny — You’ll never reach your destiny if you don’t serve. God’s plan for us involves each other. He put us in each other’s lives to serve each other to our destiny. We can’t get anywhere without each other.
All we are saying here is that marriage takes work. We should be invested in every opportunity to help our marriage grow, and that includes putting good things back into it. Stay tuned — there are more tips to come.
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.