I once heard a disgruntled wife say she thought Valentine’s Day was hypocritical. “Why can’t he just treat me that special every day?” she asked.
She had a point. But I wonder if the question has ever been turned around at her. “Why don’t you treat him that special every day?”
I’ve found that the special treatment – whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not – is often in proportion to how well we can dish it out to the other. Think about it. If your husband is treated like the king every day, won’t he begin to see you as his treasured queen? And if you are treating your wife like she’s a cherished vessel, won’t she think you’re her everything?
While my husband and I were writing our book, When Couples Walk Together, we talked about ways that we could treat each other every day as if it were Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t about gifts or chocolates or exchanging cards. It was more about what we call “simple acts of love.”
No matter how long you’ve been married, simple acts of love – those things you used to do to express your love to one another – keep you both knitted together in love.
In Colossians 2:2, Paul prayed that believers in Christ would be “knit together in love.” In other words, he prayed that a common love for Christ would have them so intertwined that they wouldn’t unravel. What if we took that principle to heart in marriage, as well?
Our brother-in-law, Bob, had a mother who would knit him thick wool sweaters. Bob remembers one time when she was knitting and noticed a dropped stitch about 20 stitches earlier. She seemed really upset about that one dropped stitch and undid several minutes of work to go back and pick up that one stitch.
“I asked her why the fuss about one stitch, and told her to just forget it, no one would notice it anyway,” Bob recalls. “Mom said: ‘Because that one dropped stitch is where your sweater will start to unravel.'”
Bob and his wife, Mary Beth, have been married 33 years and they are the best of friends today. That’s because Bob learned a lot about watching his mother knit sweaters.
“We are to be knit so tightly together – as a couple – that we don’t unravel, not one dropped stitch.”
We can unintentionally drop a stitch by doing something careless – not remembering a birthday or anniversary, failing to be there for the other when we are needed, saying a careless word, or making an unkind gesture. The list goes on. There are a million different ways to drop a stitch in your relationship with your spouse and to cause the unraveling to begin.
But, there are also a million simple acts of love to pick up the dropped stitches in your relationship so you two can be tightly knitted together once again.
We surveyed several couples and asked them what simple acts of love they practice in their relationship:
- When my husband comes home for lunch I try to have everything ready for him so he doesn’t have to bother.
- He likes to have my hair a little longer. I prefer it short, but I’ll wear it longer for him.
- Just sitting on the couch and being together instead of one of us being on the computer.
- I’ll do the dishes for her or vacuum the house, so she won’t feel she needs to.
And what are some simple acts of love couples love to receive?
- When he does something and makes it feel like an ‘us’ thing – that makes me feel loved.
- When my spouse drops things to do stuff around the house for us, that speaks love to me.
- When my wife makes me something special for dinner that she knows I like.
What simple acts of love can you practice? Here are some ideas:
- Hug and kiss each other every morning before one of you leaves the house. (Research indicates that marriages that practice this simple discipline are much healthier than those that don’t.)
- Make your spouse coffee in the morning before he or she heads off to work.
- Clean their car
- Pick her some wildflowers and walk through the door with them
- Set the table for whoever is doing the cooking
- Send an intimate personal text message
- Ask him or her to meet you for a quick lunch break
- Reach across the table, the front seat of your car or the couch to hold her hand, even if only for a few moments.
- Go an entire day without saying anything to your spouse except praise…affirmation for who they are, what they mean to you, and so on
- Go to bed at the same time as him/her for a week. Talk, read or share the quietness together.
- Call, send an email or text message mid-day just to see how the other is doing
- Open the car door for her; pull out the chair for her at the dinner table; help her put her coat on
- Fix his favorite meal without him having to ask
- If you haven’t yet learned to do this, then by all means now is the time – put the toilet seat down after you’re finished (yes, guys, that’s you!)
- Brag on your spouse in public
- Compliment your spouse in front of your children
- Find creative ways to tell each other “I love you” in code
- Add a candle to the dinner table as a way of telling your spouse you consider the evening special and romantic, simply because they’re there
Simple acts of love are just that – simple. They don’t take time to prepare or money to maintain. They are mostly impulsive. Perhaps pretty soon, they’ll be habitual.