After years or even decades of marriage, how can you pursue your spouse? Here are three key aspects to consider:
You must follow. When hunters pursue their quarry, they don’t leap into an open field and run after it, waving their arms in the air. No, they track what they’re pursuing. They study the ground for signs of animal passage. They understand the terrain and the animal’s habits. They quietly observe and use that knowledge to craft a plan of attack.
Now, you’re obviously not going to search your carpet for signs of your spouse walking by, but I think the principle of following and tracking your spouse still applies. It’s important that you observe your husband or wife — to understand his or her likes, dislikes, personality quirks, hopes, dreams and fears. You need to be curious about who he or she is, and strive to get to know your spouse better every day. Even if you feel like you know everything there is to know, keep asking questions. People are always changing.
Once you track, observe and follow your husband or wife, you’re ready for the next step.
You must woo your spouse. This step is centered on action — some sort of initiative that causes your spouse to turn toward you. It needs to be something that grabs his or her attention — a wholehearted effort to entice and win the affection and favor of your spouse.
“It’s not enough to just go through the motions,” writes Ashley Mcllwain for the website growthtrac.com. “You must passionately pursue your spouse with purpose and zeal. Put your heart into the things you do for your marriage and family, and you will see the difference it makes.”
Wooing typically involves one of these three actions:
- Allure your spouse. In a way, allure is simply another word for woo. Impress your mate — make him or her realize what a catch you are. According to Hosea 2:14 (NIV), this was something God did to win back His bride: “Therefore I am now going to allure her.”
- Be attentive. It’s all about being thoughtful, patient and kind. It’s about listening well, but it’s also important to talk, too — to reveal parts of your inner self to your spouse. It’s about seeking forgiveness when you need it, showing grace when he or she needs it and even keeping yourself clean and presentable. In short, it’s all the stuff you do to get a second date!
- Nourish. When you spend time together, make sure that it’s quality time. Go on dates together. Give each other little gifts. Have sex. Develop a meaningful system of communication. Discover your spouse’s love language.
You must sacrifice for your spouse. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16, NIV). In other words, sacrifice is the evidence that we love our spouse.
What does that sacrifice look like in our busy, day-to-day world? It’s simply taking something that we value — time, money, resources, etc. — and giving it up for someone we see as more valuable. It communicates to our spouse that he or she truly means more to us than anything on earth.
Here’s an example: One day, I asked Erin what her least favorite household chore was. I had decided to take it over for her, sacrificing a little of my time and energy to make her life a little easier. (I also hoped she wouldn’t say “the dishes,” because I hate doing dishes.)
“The dishes,” Erin said. Of course. And then, as a bonus, she said, “Making the bed.”
Um, Erin, I only asked for one thing you hated!
Still, a sacrifice is a sacrifice. I now have two extra chores, and Erin appreciates that.
Dr. Greg Smalley is vice president of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family and the author or co-author of several books, including Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage.