Once in awhile, I feel the need to write a disclaimer for a blog.
This is one of those blogs.
DISCLAIMER: I believe in talking to each other. Communication is the oil of the engine of marriage. As it flows so does everything else. I DO NOT want you to stop talking to each other. Immature tactics like the “silent treatment” only go to further damage the marriage as it is pride-driven to injure your spouse in a futile attempt to hurt him/her more than they have hurt you.
Now that I got that out-of-the-way, the heart of today’s blog is to help move “love” past words. I want you to learn to love without words. (You get that I don’t want you to stop talking right?) I propose to you: if the gift of verbal communication between you and your spouse were to stop, what evidence would be left to convey the depth of your love?
Our culture seems to have watered down love to an emotion instead of a statement of our being; a flash of sentiment in our heart instead of a deep-seeded passionate conviction. And when we want to express it, 3 simple words are used (of which I do NOT take for granted): I love you. But I tend to wonder, in the day we live in, if those words have been muddied a bit.
Don’t get me wrong. Please do not ever stop telling your spouse that you love them. The words “I love you” shouldn’t be reserved just for special occasions. Being married IS a special occasion. Therefore, open up your mouth freely and frequently to express verbally your love (this is disclaimer #2).
But if you couldn’t say it, specifically to him/her, what evidence would be left?
What does your schedule convey to your spouse? Your calendar will speak vision. And vision is born out of passion. The priority of time and quality of moments will speak volumes about what you are passionate about. Share calendars and let your spouse see things from scheduled/blocked-off time together to vacations and down-time. I’m of a firm conviction that NO marriage should go a month without a date. It doesn’t have to have immense cost (or any for that matter). But I’ve always said: consistent dates are cheaper than divorce lawyers.
I read a study from UCLA a number of years ago that said that EVERY human being needs 8-10 meaningful touches a day to be healthy. But the key word there is “meaningful.” What does that look like? For some of you with higher libido, it’s learning how to touch your spouse non-sexually (simply put: a touch that isn’t laced with expectations). For those who aren’t driven physically, it’s creating opportunities to impact your spouse with your touch. It’s all about initiating creative touches that put aside your touch-agenda (or lack thereof) to create a healthy touch climate in your marriage that expresses your love for one another.
Are there things your spouse has been wanting to get done around the home? Are there projects that you hear him/her talk about frequently? This is as simple as making a mental note of what your spouse has been wanting to accomplish AND showing you took notice by scheduling and implementing that project. Whatever the task is, the love isn’t conveyed in the actual project as much as it is in the action of listening and responding.
I’ll admit, I don’t like Hallmark created holidays. Also, I’m not big on gift giving (that’s at the bottom of my love languages). BUT…it seems like the longer we’re married, the more we take for granted special moments that either, come by the calendar, or by the nature of our relationship (anniversaries, birthdays, etc.). RECOGNIZING and/or CREATING significant moments helps your spouse feel more like your “significant other” rather than the “obligatory other.”
The absence of respect will kill the heart of a marriage. When a couple no longer recognizes the most base level of human dignity in one another, passion bleeds out and life leaves the relationship. Why? We respect what we value. It doesn’t mean our spouse is going to always act in a respectable way. But do we value our marriage? If so, we need to be a spouse that works hard to live in a respectful way that shows how much we value, first the Lord, and then our spouse. When you lead in respect, you build hope. And where hope is present, love is grown.
How others perceive your spouse.
What is your spouse’s reputation or image based upon your closest friends and/or coworkers? How do others perceive your spouse after they’ve interacted with you? Whether you like it or not, what you say or do will get back to your significant other (it always does). I’ve heard it said that “Integrity is who you are when no one is looking.” Perhaps marital integrity is how much you love your husband/wife when he/she isn’t around. What a statement of love to be a someone who hears that their spouse was speaking words of appreciation, gratitude, respect, and passion without them in the room.
Two challenges for you:
1 – Have a conversation with your spouse about this. Ask your spouse what “non-verbal” ways speak out “I love you” to them. Get some input. Give some feedback. Perhaps, make some apologies where you (or both) have missed the mark. Marriage goals are not to point out where you lack; Marriage goals are to look to where you can grow.
2 – Make it a daily challenge. On top of VERBALIZING the words “I love you,” what can I do today to NON-VERBALLY express those words that will bless my spouse? Get personal and practical without the worry of reciprocation. This shows the true heart of a servant. And that is how marriage grows.
I’d love to say I’ve mastered this. To be honest, I think I have a ton of room for improvement. As a husband, one of the greatest privileges and challenges is to tell my wife I love her without uttering a single word. It’s so simple yet not an easy task.
Sit with your spouse. Have the conversation with a vision of growing the communication of the commitment and love you both possess. Remember: marriage is a long-haul journey built within healthy daily moments of growth.
Love ya. Praying for you.
Thanks for letting me ramble…