Thursday, September 18, 2014

How to Love and Care for Your Spouse

When I was newly married I frequently saw the following quote hanging in the home of someone I worked for:
Choose thy love, love thy choice.

I thought it a wise proverb, vowed to remember it, but at the same time wondered that anyone would need to be reminded to love his or her spouse, a choice of the heart that surely continued forever.
Now, 21 years later, I see the wisdom in having such a motto ever in sight. Life is full and busy and demanding and however good our intentions we humans often neglect the things--and people--that matter most. Between children and careers and all that goes with them it is often our beloved husbands or wives who get the least and worst of us even though at one point in our lives we vowed never to let that happen.
Promises to keep...
In The Family:  A Proclamation to the World, it says: 
"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other..."
I believe that the words in the Proclamation were chosen with extreme care. Obviously, we're supposed to take our relationships with our spouses pretty seriously. More than that, we are supposed to act. Love and care are verbs! Further, the words solemn responsibility beg contemplation and understanding. In this instance responsibility is referring to a duty we took upon ourselves with an oath and something we are accountable for. But the beauty of the phrase comes in the synonyms for solemn:  sincere, earnest, honest, genuine, firm, heartfelt, wholehearted, sworn. Think about the one you pledged your love to and think about those words in your actions! I'd like to offer 6 suggestions for helping us all love and care for our spouses more.

1.  Establish and keep your own traditions as a couple. Whole family traditions are important, to be sure, but I'm talking about some custom practice(s) that belongs to just the two of you. It can be simple or silly, or something profound. My husband and I have been taking "selfie" photos of the two of us on our travels since our honeymoon--long before it was a cultural fad. We have a collection of these pictures of us in the same pose but in different places as we grow old together. I still giggle when we take them. 
 Celebrating our 13th anniversary hiking above Cascade, Idaho
2.  Listen. Fully engage in conversations, with eye contact and an earnest desire to know what's important to your spouse. Then honor the needs and wishes expressed and actively work to make life better for your spouse.
3.  Kiss.  And kiss again.  Hold hands.  Be the attentive, affectionate person your spouse needs and fell in love with.
Celebrating our 20th anniversary hiking in Colorado
4.  Be present. Spend time together without distractions.  Some of the best time my husband and I have spent together has been playing a board game and eating ice cream after the kids are in bed. 
5.  Do something old, try something new.  If there are activities you both really enjoy, do them together as much as is responsibly possible.  Hiking, fishing, tennis, golf... strengthen commonalities and make memories. But every now and then, try something new together, too.
Climbing a glacier in Alaska
6.  Count the little things.  A happy marriage is an accumulation of a lot of little things. From baking his favorite cookies to wearing those earrings he gave you to not complaining about a meeting he must attend, from wearing her favorite cologne to doing the after dinner cleanup to giving her the best seat, do the little things for your spouse and notice the little things your spouse does for you.  And for goodness' sake, say "thank you!"
Somewhere in my lifetime of reading I came across an interesting insight from a Jewish rabbi who was talking with someone about arranged Jewish marriages versus the typical American marriage. He said, "You take something that is hot and you quickly let it go cold. We take something that is cool and we slowly warm it up."
Really, it's about conscious effort.  I know that Jesus Christ, our Savior, is conscious of each of us and our spouses and He knows us well. I know He stands ready to aid us in strengthening our families.  Every family begins with a marriage.  Keep yours warm!

The author Sasha Takis lives in northern Utah with her baseball-obsessed family.  She homeschools her five children (one of whom is currently serving as a missionary in Colorado for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).  Sasha has been a prolific writer for The Sentinel, a national online LDS homeschool publication, and a popular speaker at homeschool conferences around the country.  Her hobbies include photography, music, poetry, hiking, finding gospel analogies in every day life,  laundry, and blogging at: http://pegsacademy.blogspot.com/

4 comments:

  1. Excellent ideas. At 8 years, I think my husband and I are doing pretty well!

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  2. lovely useful ideas for any age couple...

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  3. Good thoughts. It does take some effort (especially when children are small), but the rewards are well worth it!

    =)

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  4. I love the quote from the Rabbi, it's a priceless reminder!

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