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For a Happy Marriage: Do the “Little Things” That Matter to Your Spouse

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In this third article of a three-part series, Shaunti Feldhahn explains how doing the "little things" that matter to your spouse can make for a happier marriage.

As I looked at the sea of raised hands in the massive auditorium, I couldn’t help but chuckle. It was a Sunday morning service, and as part of his sermon series on relationships, the pastor of this large church had asked me to do a pastoral interview on my research findings about happy couples. He had just turned to the women in the congregation and asked whether a particular little action would be meaningful to them. A thousand hands went up, and we could clearly hear the accompanying sounds of shock from a thousand men.

Then it was the men’s turn, and the women were the ones taken aback when they learned what was important to the men — including, in most cases, the ones sitting right next to them.

So what were the little actions that were so important to these men and women but were so hidden to the opposite sex? Understanding the answer could be one of the most important and simplest keys to having a happy, thriving marriage. It turns out that these actions almost always tell the opposite sex: “I care about you.” And once your spouse truly believes that you care, you’ve created a protective cocoon around your marriage that makes it difficult for other issues to hurt the two of you.

Here are a few of the “little things” that matter in marriage:

Ladies:

Be sure to notice the little day-to-day things your husband does, and say “thank you.” As the results of my survey began rolling in, I was shocked to see that, for a man, hearing “thank you” has the same emotional impact on him as hearing “I love you” does for a woman. Consider saying “Thank you for changing out those light bulbs, honey,” “Thank you for trimming all the bushes even though it was hot outside,” or “Thank you for taking the kids to the park this morning; you’re such a good dad.”

Sincerely say “thank you” several times a day and you’ll be shocked at the difference it makes in your marriage. Even better, say some of those praiseworthy things in front of others — “You know what he did this morning? He took the kids to the park and let me sleep in”

Gentlemen:

Hold your wife’s hand when you are walking across a parking lot, or put your arm around her when you are sitting together at church. Regardless of what her “love language” might be, those gestures speak because they convey an important message: “You’re mine, and I would choose you all over again.”

Another key action to practice with your wife: Convey that same message of reassurance when the two of you are at odds. Saying “I’m really angry and I need some space, but I want you to know that we’re OK” is a priceless reassurance that matters to nearly every woman.

These little actions may seem trivial, so it would be easy to discount them. Don’t. They are powerful. They can actually begin to transform a relationship even if only one person is doing them. Give them a try in your marriage and you’ll soon find that these actions really weren’t that “little” after all.

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Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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