By Ashley McIlwain
Recently I’ve been inspired by Ricinda Perry’s Family Footprints: 90 Day Challenge. It got me to thinking about some stuff. One thing I asked myself was, “What have I done that’s above and beyond the usual for my husband lately?” To be honest, I had to think about it awhile, and I couldn’t think of anything really. That was a bit of a scary realization for me and a wake-up call at that.
Both my husband, Steve, and I try to incorporate thoughtfulness and love into our day-to-day for each other. In doing little things for one another, we communicate that we care. He unloads the dishwasher for me even though that’s usually one of my household tasks. I run to greet him at the door every night when he gets home from work. We constantly try to convey our appreciation and love for one another amidst our everyday routines.
Steve is also really great at doing “above and beyond” things too though. A foot rub after a long day, surprising me with a special gift, or planning a date night for us are all things he does that fill up my love tank. He’s thoughtful, creative, and romantic, and I love that about him. The problem is, I realized I’m not as good at reciprocating.
I think because I handle so many things to keep the household up and running, I forget to be creative, thoughtful, and romantic. Thinking outside of the box has kind of gone out the window because of my day-to-day responsibilities. That’s not ok, and it’s certainly not an excuse.
Just because I feel like I already do a lot doesn’t mean that I get a free pass on doing special things for Steve. He does a lot too, and he still manages to do those things for me. I realize how loved and cherished those acts make me feel, and I know that that’s something he deserves to feel too. It’s something that I need to do, and it’s something that I want to do for him.
So, I sat down and decided to plan out a week of extra lovin’ for Steve. Here’s what I came up with, his reaction, and my thoughts:
Day #1 – Take care of a household duty that is usually your spouse’s responsibility. I gathered up all of the trash around the house and took it out for Steve since that’s usually his job. It just so happened he was planning on taking it out that night, so when he went to do it, it was already done. He appreciated it so much, and it felt so good to have blessed him in a little way.
Day #2 – Give your spouse a massage. Steve is really great about giving me massages because I constantly deal with back pain. I decided to flip it around and give him a massage this time. I lit some candles, turned on soothing music, and got to work. I was amazed to see how relaxed he got, and he must have thanked me a hundred times telling me how wonderful it was. My heart welled up with excitement that I had found something to do for him that he enjoyed so much.
Day #3 – When your spouse goes to get cleaned up for the night, grab a fresh towel, stick it in the dryer for 5 minutes, and take it in to him/her just before they get out of the shower. This is a relatively small thing I did for Steve last night, but I knew he would enjoy a fresh, warm towel. I noticed that he kept telling me how much he loved me all evening, so I think all of this extra lovin’ is working.
Day #4 – Send your spouse an unexpected text letting them know just how much you love them. I sent Steve a picture text message and attached a love note to it that just raved about how amazing he is and how much I love him. He sent me one back that made me grin ear to ear.
Day #5 – Leave your spouse a love note somewhere for him/her to find. I wrote Steve out a card letting him know what a blessing he is to me and left it on his side of the bed to find. When he found it, he came out and gave me a big hug. He told me that he loved me so much and really appreciated the card.
Day #6 – Encourage your spouse to do something he/she enjoys. Steve rarely plays video games, but he enjoys them. Usually he doesn’t want to waste time with me in the evenings to play them, so he will only indulge when I am getting ready for bed. After I got cleaned up the other night, I came out to the living room where he was playing. Immediately he went to turn off his game, but instead, I told him that I enjoyed watching him and thought he should play a little while longer. So, he played for another 15 minutes while I cheered him on. It was fun for both of us, and I know he appreciated it.
Day #7 – Leave a post-it, love note in a place your spouse will find. This is one of my favorite things to do for Steve because it’s so simple and easy, yet I know he loves them. Usually he sets out his shoes he’s going to wear the next day by the door, so this morning I wrote him a post-it love note and stuck it on top of one of his shoes. He made sure to let me know how much he loved it, and how it got his day off on the right foot (Yes, pun intended).
After just one week of thinking outside of my usual box to express a little extra love to Steve, I got results! It’s amazing to me how the smallest gestures can have the biggest impact. Literally I saw a change in how Steve carried himself; it was as though he had an extra bounce in his step. It was interesting too that I was doing all of this just to bless him, I received a blessing too! Not only did it make me feel so good to see him extra cheerful, but he also reciprocated with some extra love for me as well like unexpected affection and increased words of affirmation. Our marriage definitely experienced a high – like someone hit the gas and revved up the engines.
The lesson I learned is that your marriage really can improve in as little as a week. If you are willing to sit down and put some thought into it, just one week of selflessly conveying your love, appreciation, and admiration toward your spouse can and will have an impact whether you’ve been married for a week or forty years. Whether your marriage is wonderful or struggling, this is something for everyone to try. Not only will your spouse’s countenance lift, but you will see your entire marriage get a lift. Trust me, it’s worth theeffort.