Doing Nice Things Can Improve Your Marriage
The golden rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, is a principle that can be found in most religions and cultures. The challenge is allowing this principle to guide our behaviour towards our spouse. Do we spend our time doing things that show our spouse we love them or do we spend our time doing the things we want to do? This month, as part of The Couple Project, we decided to focus on doing nice things for each other every day.
As part of this focus of doing nice things, we created a goal to do at least one intentional nice thing for our spouse every day. Each morning we write in our journals our plan, both the what and when. We share our idea with our spouse — just to make sure it is something that communicates love to them. Then at the end of the day we record if we did it or not. Doing this has helped teach us that in order to accomplish our goal of doing more nice things, we need to make it a priority. Making a plan, even a simple one, helps to communicate to our spouse that we care about them and that they are important to us.
Some of the nice things we have done for each other are:
- Sent a message to let them know we are thinking about them.
- Gave them a hug and kiss.
- Brought them a treat.
- Took them for a picnic at a scenic outlook.
- Made a point of connecting when we left and returned home.
- A cup of cocoa together.
- Planned a fun intimate evening.
- Made sure we had quality conversations throughout the day.
- Bought them a new outfit or accessories.
There are many occasions when one of us is gone for most of the day. This certainly makes it harder to accomplish our goal. It means having to adapt and make sure we are deliberately making an effort to find things we can do in spite of not being physically with each other. These types of challenges can cause us to defer our plans until another day, or we can decide to find new ways to show our spouse we appreciate and love them. These are opportunities to truly grow and improve in our ability to love our spouse.
In his book “The 5 Love Languages”, Gary Chapman teaches that we each have different love languages, things we feel communicate love. In order to do nice things for each other we need to discover what actions tell our spouse we love them. We can start by looking at what they ask of us, and the types of things they do for us, as hints to what would be meaningful to them. Do they ask you to talk to them more, give them more hugs, or help around the yard or home? These are all clues to what will help them feel loved.
None of us fit perfectly into one of the five love languages, as Chapman would say, we each have our own dialect. For example one of us loves new things, new food and new clothes, and they love to go out to eat. This somewhat fits into the love language of receiving gifts, but a gift of flowers doesn’t mean much to them. We are all unique people and being willing to take the time and effort to learn the specific love language dialect of our spouse is how we truly show our spouse that we care about them.
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In our marriage we have an agreement: “You are more important than I. You are the most important thing in my life, more important than my need to be right, what other people think or want, or any other competing value.” This month's goal of creating a habit of doing nice things for each other is a chance to put this agreement to the test. Are we willing to spend time doing something nice for our spouse, or are we more focused on our own busyness?
Each day we need to choose again to love our spouse and show them we care. We can tell our spouse we love them in a way they need and understand. This takes forethought and sacrifice, it doesn’t just happen. “Love is a choice. And either partner can start the process today.” (The 5 Love Languages)
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