If there’s ever a time when we make focusing on our spouse or significant other a priority, it’s Valentine’s Day. After all, February 14th is all about romance, fancy dinners, thoughtful gifts, and expressions of love. In that sort of candy-coated situation, it’s very easy to feel a spark as you gaze into your partner’s eyes.
But what about the other 364 days of the year? If you’ve been married (or in a committed relationship) for much time at all, you know that champagne and chocolates are only a small part of what makes up a partnership. You also have to deal with things like shared bills, housework, busy schedules, kids, the occasional argument, and more. And in the midst of all of that chaos, well, it can be all too easy for the “love” part of your relationship to take a hit.
If you have read my book or heard me speak, you’ve probably heard me say that your marriage is like anything else in this life. If it is not growing and expanding, it is slowly dying. If you don’t put regular work into maintaining your marriage and repairing any problems that crop up, it will eventually break down, or even worse. Furthermore, if you’re unhappy at home you’ll find it more difficult to succeed in other areas of your life as well because you will constantly be stressed out about your number-one relationship. And you’ll also lack your partner’s full support. That being the case, we all must start to put even more effort into our marriages than we do into succeeding professionally or trying to keep our homes, lawns, and/or cars looking great.
Essentially, the real secret to maintaining a fabulous, loving relationship with your spouse boils down to this: Every day, it must be your number-one priority to make your husband or wife feel as special, loved, and valued as he or she did when you first got married.
Here are a few things I do to keep my own wife (I hope!) feeling amazing and special throughout the whole year. I use the terms wife, she, and her, but I promise, all of these strategies work just as well with men!:
- Celebrate your spouse every day. Tell her how wonderful, beautiful, and talented she is. Tell her you love her every chance you get, and how incredibly fortunate you feel to be married to her.
- Be sure to compliment your spouse whenever you can. By and large, we can’t count on hearing praise from our bosses and coworkers, or even from our friends and kids. And most certainly, we don’t make ourselves feel very good with compliments directed at ourselves, either. So over time, it’s all too easy to feel small, unhappy, and dissatisfied. As a spouse, though, you have the power and responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen to your wife. You can light up her world every day with love, affection, and yes, glowing praise!
- Learn, and do, what makes your spouse feel most loved. Some of us need to be touched to feel love. Others need to hear it, and still others need to be shown through gifts and nights out on the town that we are loved and appreciated. Don’t assume your way of feeling loved is the same as hers. Simply ask your spouse directly what you do for her that makes her feel the most loved, and then incorporate her answer more frequently into your daily lives.
- Don’t let resentments build. Always keep the lines of communication open, even if you need to take a walk and clear your head before broaching a touchy subject.
- Look at yourself before trying to fix your partner. Instead of nagging, complaining, and accusing, ask yourself—honestly—where you might be dropping the ball and/or causing the problem. When you start changing your behavior for the better, you’ll probably be surprised by how quickly your spouse will do the same for you!
Obviously, these are only a handful of the many habits that can keep your marriage great. Overall, just remember that when you are committed to loving, respecting, and celebrating your spouse every day, she’ll smile more, feel better, and experience more of that romantic “spark” (and so will you, I promise!).
So, go on that fun, romantic Valentine’s Day date…and then prioritize and enjoy your marriage every day thereafter. You won’t regret it—I know I haven’t!