At this point in your relationship, does it seem like you need to pour out extra affection? Are you and your lovely companion filled to the brim with emotional fuel? Can you go more than a few hours without speaking? Do you struggle to understand how any couple could lose this magic?
If so, I can relate to your season of life. There was a time when I honestly did not understand why people divorced. Maybe I thought I understood, but I did not get it. What I was experiencing with Eric was so real and powerful I did not expect it ever to fade.
We were that couple – the twosome who had to hug every few seconds – and I am pretty sure we sickened our realtor. When we were doing a walk through, she complained to my mom, “They have to hug in every room!” To which my mom replied, “Well, I guess it is better than fighting.”
Showing each other affection is all we ever did, so it did not occur to us to create a tradition of blessing each other. We did not prepare for the days ahead because we did not believe our dynamic would change – or we did not want to believe it would change. Looking back now, I wish we had been more vigilant. I wish we had realized how easily and unintentionally couples can sever their emotional closeness. We were flawlessly affectionate back then, but it was a reaction to feeling loved.
Eric and I agree that we let marriage happen to us instead of preparing for the marriage we wanted (which is why we’re passionate about helping other couples prepare well!). Once we were married, we proceeded to live as we saw fit – both expecting the other to conform to our way of thinking. It did not take long for a wedge to form between us. He wrestled with frustration at my lack of tenacity. At the same time, I felt neglected because I wanted his time and he was busy accomplishing.
Here a wedge. There a wedge. Everywhere a wedge wedge.
Had we started our marriage expecting life to trip us up, we could have defended against it. We were naive enough to believe our regard for each other would never change.
I am putting you on alert now. You will not feel the same way about your sweetheart in two years as you do now. Hopefully, your connection will deepen, (if this relationship is a healthy one for you), but it will not always be this lovey dovey or magical. Life is going to happen, and you can be ready for it, (as ready as possible), or you can be distraught and disillusioned when it hits you out of nowhere.
Having said that, we urge you – from our toes – begin forming positive habits which will follow you into your marriage. Decide you will bless your sweetheart whether he or she is grumpy, busy, receptive, happy, or even unable to reciprocate.
Dr. Paul Tripp says, “Love is willing self-sacrifice for the good of another that does not require reciprocation or that the person being loved is deserving.” When our significant others make us feel loved, adored, and respected, it does not take much effort to sacrifice for them. However, we are not called to love our spouses when they deserve it. We are called to love our spouses – period.
So, this week, we will discuss some ways you can be a blessing to your sweetheart. Create a giving culture in your relationship now while it is still easy to love each other so you will be ready when it is not so easy.
Outward Expressions of Love
Giving gifts is one of many ways we can choose to love on our significant others. Though giving gifts is a love language, those who speak other love languages still appreciate a good gift! Though I am a quality time person, I become extremely excited when presented with a random present. My teddy bear, Mr. Cuddles (whom I have mentioned on here repeatedly) is a great example. Eric saw that I wrote a post about Teddy Bear Day and made sure I had a new, cuddly, (almost) Carolina-blue bear waiting for me on September 9th.
Eric mentioned something he wanted a few weeks ago, so I found it, ordered it, and created a small treasure hunt for him. Giving and receiving small gifts along the way makes life fun!
I still have special figurines, stuffed animals, jewelry, and pictures which make me smile and remind me of the people who gave them to me. Gifts are special because they are constant symbols. A special date creates a precious memory, but a souvenir from the date serves as a lifelong reminder. On my bookshelf right now is a gray and purple elephant that reminds me of our elephant ride last August; and, when I see it, I not only remember the fun we had, but also the time and research Eric put into making the event happen.
Ignore Your Sweetheart’s Love Language Once in a While
Though I am a strong proponent of understanding and applying your sweetheart’s love language, I think we can become so hung up on them that we lose sight of other ways to say, “I love you.” When Eric fixes something around the house or runs an errand for me, I know he loves me. He would not give up his precious time if he did not. Just because someone feels the most loved when you dote on him or her in a particular way does not mean he or she would stare at you confused and bewildered if you expressed your affection in another “language.”
Unless your sweetheart has a particular aversion to gifts (and some people do), occasionally surprise your loved one with an unexpected present – something he or she has mentioned, something you have seen him or her admire, or just something that speaks to you. Doing these small acts of love add up over time and create an atmosphere of warmth and affection between couples.
Eric has a tradition of bringing me back a small remembrance from each of his business trips. It is one small way he reminds me that I was on his mind while he was away. Like a child, I wait in anticipation to see what treasure will pop out of his suitcase. ~smile~
Before you break the bank, remember that gifts come in all shapes and sizes. They do not have to be extravagant to show your intent to love. Even a favorite ice cream from the grocery store says, “I love you!”
If you need a little inspiration, check out our book Gift-Giving By Personality Type for some gift ideas unique to your lady’s or gentleman’s personality!
How would unexpected gift-giving bless your relationship?