The movie, Fireproof, leads a disastrous marriage down a triumphant path through a series of selfless acts, which are detailed in the spinoff book, The Love Dare. The husband’s father dares him to perform specific acts of love for a period of time rather than give up on his marriage, which appears to be doomed. The perspective being offered is that it only takes one person making small changes with a loving heart to improve a marriage dramatically. If spouses are focused on the faults of the other person, they miss the point.
Even if your marriage is not on thin ice like the couple’s in the movie, give some thought to whether or not you frequently keep score in your head, i.e. I did that nice thing, now it’s his turn. Or, I always plan vacations and don’t feel appreciated, so I’m not doing it anymore. I once had a friend who kept score of how many chores she and her husband each performed; they are now divorced.
When an unsatisfied store customer asks to see the manager, imagine if the manager argued back that the customer was wrong. The store would lose sales. But when the manager apologizes and meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations, the customer will likely maintain the relationship with the store. The next time your spouse issues a complaint, instead of becoming defensive, try to act like the manager and listen to your spouse to see if you can resolve the issue. And the next time you want to blurt out something nasty or critical to your spouse, think about whether you could say it in a nicer way-or hold your tongue.
Given how busy we all are with work, church, school, homes and children, it’s almost unfair that you are asked to make time to do even small, loving acts for your spouse. If your relationship is like most couples, its priority level has been pushed down a few notches. Realize that you are not just doing it for your spouse, but for yourself and your children, and as an investment in your future. I’ve found in my personal experience and in my interviews with successful couples, feelings follow actions. So, if you’re just not feeling the love today, do it anyway! Choose to behave lovingly, and your feelings will follow. Your spouse may take notice, but even if he or she doesn’t, choose loving actions anyway.
One of my interviewees (who has overcome an addiction and his wife’s life-threatening illness) says he realized it’s the small things that please his wife, like saying something nice in an e-mail. “It’s nothing extraordinary like leaving a trail of petals to the bedroom filled with a thousand candles. We let each other know we’re thinking of the other and that we really care,” he says.
Brainstorm 5 things you could do in less than 10 minutes. Then act on one thing. Do you believe one person can begin to change a marriage, or does it take two?
Lori Lowe is a writer and communications consultant from Indianapolis. She is currently writing a book profiling extraordinary marriages. Her blog http://www.lorilowe.wordpress.com encourages couples in their marriages and family relationships. Subscribe today to read a positive voice in your inbox.