Keeping the flame alive is a matter of daily decisions, choices, and actions.
Would you like to be married to the partner of your dreams? Would you like to have a marriage that is heavenly instead of ho-hum? Would you like your spouse to be your best friend again? Would you like to reignite that spark that you’ve somehow lost between the kids, the bills, the errands and all the other stuff?
Well I have some good news — you can. It’s just going to take a little work, a little planning, and little effort on your part but you truly can have an extraordinary marriage. I do.
So what are the keys to having a marriage full of joy, laughter, passion, and respect for each other? The kind of marriage you can’t wait to get home to after a long day at work, the kind of marriage that makes you look forward to the weekend because you want to spend it with your soulmate, the kind of marriage that is the envy of all the neighbors? The one that has the real love connection?
Decide that you’re going to have an extraordinary marriage.
When my wife and I were engaged, we sat down and we talked about what our goals were going to be as a married couple. One of the things we talked about at length is that we did not want to have an ordinary marriage; we wanted to have an extraordinary marriage. That was something we decided together. So sit down and have a discussion and talk about what that would look like, why you want it, and why it is important for both of you.
Talk about both of your needs.
What do you need from your wife emotionally, physically, mentally spiritually and motivationally? What does she need from you in all of those categories? After all you can’t hit a target if you don’t know what it is and you can’t meet a need that is unspoken. Far too often husbands and wives expect each other to be “mind readers” and assume that the other person knows exactly what it is that they want. They don’t. Some people don’t read signals too well.
Carve out and dedicate “us” time.
I don’t care how busy you are — and I know that almost every couple is very busy because everyone across the world seems to be a two career household. Between work, and running a household, and kids and baseball, and soccer and all of the other life stuff that has to happen (or maybe doesn’t have to happen but we think it has to happen anyway) there seems to be none left over for “us time.”
Married couples, why do we do that ourselves? Why do we allow the thing that matters most to suddenly be the thing that matters least? Because we are so “busy.” Shut off the phone, get a babysitter, go away for a weekend, put a giant pink heart on your calendars — but above all else, you must carve out dedicated “us time,” which is to time spend doing what you did when you were dating, which was actually spending time together alone. You know…like a date?
Commit small acts of kindness for one another.
When your spouse least expects it, commit a small random act of kindness just to show them that you love them. Maybe you get up early and walk the dog in the morning, something he normally does, but it’s cold outside and he gets to stay in bed a little bit longer. Maybe you switch cars for the day for some reason and you surprise her by having her car detailed. Committing small acts of kindness for one another will open up the other person’s heart and let them realize, not just through your words but through your actions, that you love them. Show it.
Forsake all others.
You have to make a choice and the choice is very simple; when it comes down to who is most important, your spouse must be Numero Uno without question, without debate, and perhaps most importantly without them asking you to do it.
Stand up for them. You should be their defender, their supporter and their number one fan. If someone in your family criticizes them or treats them in a way that is disrespectful, it’s up to you to tell them that that’s not acceptable. When it comes to spending time with your spouse, or time with others, you have a choice to make. Please don’t misunderstand — I am not saying you can’t ever get together with your friends separately from your spouse. But I have never understood nor will ever understand someone’s social activities becoming more important than their marriage.
Make a commitment.
Oh I know you made a commitment when you said your vows during the wedding, and you may have been officially married for quite some time. But the question is are you committed, or just saying that you are? To me there’s a big difference between lip service and true commitment. Lip service says, “Yes I love my honey very much.” Commitment says, “I would do anything for them.” So in your marriage are you renting or buying? Are you totally 1000% committed are you thinking about how it would’ve been if maybe you would have committed to that someone else, you know the one before? I bring this up because I do believe that people can tell if you’re totally committed or you’re not. You can tell and they can tell — you are all in or you’re not.
Celebrate your spouse.
Whenever there is an opportunity to celebrate your spouse — celebrate them like they have never been celebrated before. Maybe it’s their birthday, maybe it’s Christmas or Valentine’s Day, or Mother’s or Father’s day, or they got a promotion at work, or some major milestone achievement like getting a black belt in martial arts. In any of those cases, celebrate them like you really mean it, and don’t just do it as if it is an obligation. On my last birthday my wife created a long birthday weekend (not just one day) and gave me at least eight birthday cards spread out over those four days. She made me feel like a rock star that weekend. (She always does.)
Please don’t miss this point — isn’t that what it’s all about? Isn’t a big part of life celebrating the other person that you love so much? Isn’t the idea to show them that their birthday is just as special as your own? As for me, I love celebrating my wife’s birthday more than I love celebrating my own. To me, too many spouses celebrate with a grumpy grudging obligation, and not a celebration of joy. Special days are few and far between, you should do your best to make them truly special.
So it is now up to you to decide — do you want to be married 30 or 40 years living a life that just OK? Or do you want to live a life full of joy and happiness passion and friendship and respect and love? The choice is up to you because I believe that every day you make choices that are either ordinary choices or extraordinary ones. The choice is yours.