Too many days throughout our marriage, I’ve given my best to others in my work, leaving my leftovers for my wife, Susan—as if everyone else is prime rib and she’s chopped liver. I’m learning to be more aware and intentional to remind her every single day that I love her, not just in big ways, but in small ways that add up.
The simple things in life can be profound. We’ve all heard the saying “it’s the little things that mean the most.” Legendary college basketball coach John Wooden went a step further when he said that “it’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” I couldn’t agree more. Here are 9 simple but meaningful ways to show your spouse love.
1. Greet each other every day.
Don’t look past the obvious. Every morning is a new opportunity to help your spouse start the day with a loving “good morning” that recognizes his or her dignity and value. (If you miss the chance, send a text message showing that your spouse is on your mind.)
2. Write a note to your spouse.
I like leaving notes for Susan in different places, like on our bathroom mirror, so as she’s getting ready for the day, she knows I’m thinking of her. A handwritten note is a brief but meaningful investment in time to communicate how important your spouse is to you.
3. Look for a daily reason to compliment your spouse, directly and to others.
Our words can build each other up or tear each other down. I’ve learned a sincere compliment to Susan, or to others about her, is one of the best ways I can show her I love her.
4. Say “I love you” every day, more than once, even when you don’t feel like it.
Love is not what we sometimes think it is—just a strong emotion or romantic feeling. When you learn how to show love to your spouse, you learn that love goes beyond feelings, and we need to express it, even when our feelings falter. The words “I love you” aren’t just for wooing or special occasions. Make it an everyday sentence. We can’t say those three words too much.
5. Give your full attention to your spouse.
Both Susan and I feel ignored and unimportant when the other is completely engrossed in a screen or activity. Not noticing your spouse is a certain way to push him or her away, even unintentionally.
6. Be a more active listener to your spouse.
As hurtful as it is to talk to someone who is clearly ignoring you, it is meaningful to the same degree to talk to someone who is actively listening to you. Being a better listener makes your spouse feel heard—and that makes your spouse feel cherished.
7. Ask your spouse what you can do to help.
It is so important not to wait for a request for help but to ask, “How can I help you right now?” or “How can I make your day better?” This one little action can be a game changer to a spouse who feels overwhelmed, who now realizes you’re there and ready to help.Look for reasons to thank your spouse for what he or she does and says—and for who your spouse is.
8. Offer a kind, non-sexual touch.
We’re wired to need physical contact, and although it can play into your marriage’s sexual relationship, we need other kinds of touch, too. Sometimes, we just need a comforting hand on the shoulder or back. Even something simple like holding hands can carry great meaning (and lots of benefits).
9. Consistently thank your spouse.
The two most transformational words in a relationship are often “thank you.” Look for reasons to thank your spouse for what he or she does and says—and for who your spouse is.
All of these steps require and help us to be better students of our spouse. Being more intentional in these small ways can help you learn more about each other, even after many years of marriage.
In your experience, what have you learned about how to show love to your spouse?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you do to make others feel loved?”