Wednesday, September 20, 2017

10 Romantic Fall Dates to Enjoy with Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie ParrottSeptember 20, 2017


Fall is a beautiful and exciting time of year, with changing leaves, football season in full swing, and holidays right around the corner. Take advantage of the cooler weather and the wide variety of seasonal activities to go on some creative and romantic dates with your spouse.
There are plenty of ways to fully enjoy the autumn, so we’ve created a list of 10 ideas to get you started. Have fun!

1. GO ON A COFFEE DATE

There’s never a wrong time to get coffee, but there’s something about fall that makes a hot drink seem more appealing. Cooler temperatures are a great excuse to have a date at your favorite coffee shop—and fall is pumpkin spice season, which makes it extra special.

2. HAVE A BONFIRE AND MAKE S’MORES

There’s something romantic about snuggling in front of the bonfire in the chilly night air, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. If either of you (or both!) plays an instrument, like guitar, banjo, or mandolin, bring it to the fireside and liven things up with a little music.

3. GO TO A FOOTBALL GAME

High school and college football games are always a blast. You and your spouse could plan a trip to your respective alma maters’ homecoming festivities and share memories from your college days. Even better, relive your own memories together if you both attended the same school.

4. GO ON A HIKE

A hike is a great way to see the gorgeous fall foliage in all its glory. Choose your favorite scenic trail and spend the day talking, taking pictures, and enjoying each other’s company. Take a picnic with you and savor the day together…and the view.

5. CAMP OUT

Fall weather is perfect for camping, so pick a favorite campground or state park and pack up for the weekend. You can unplug and spend time together fishing, biking, hiking, and rejuvenating in nature. If you’d rather have a staycation, pitch a tent in your backyard and spend the night under the stars.

6. BAKE A PIE TOGETHER

Autumn is definitely pie season! Apple pies, pumpkin pies, and sweet potato pies are all seasonal favorites, so pick your favorite to bake together and make an afternoon of it. When it’s done, make some apple cider or hot chocolate to wash it down.

7. PLAY IN THE LEAVES

Not much connects you to your inner child during fall quite like raking up a huge pile of leaves, then diving into them. Make your autumn yard clean-up a little more interesting this year by playing together while you work.

8. GO TO THE PUMPKIN PATCH

Take a day trip to the pumpkin patch to pick out your pumpkins for this year’s porch decorations. While you’re at it, take a hayride and play with the baby animals on the farm.

9. GET COZY BY THE FIRE

Chilly nights are the perfect excuse to put on some fuzzy socks, grab a comfy blanket, and snuggle up together by a roaring fire. Put on some relaxing music or watch your favorite scary movie (or fun, if you don’t like scary!) with your sweetie, and enjoy a date night in.

10. ATTEND A CARNIVAL OR FALL FESTIVAL

Fall festivals are a ton of fun, and the perfect setting for a date night. Get in on the cake walk, grab a candy apple or some cotton candy, play horseshoes or ring toss, and ride the rides like you’re a couple of kids again.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

31 Questions...

31 Questions to Help You Be a Better Parent

Answer these questions with honesty, humility, and dependence on God's power.
By Janel Breitenstein 2015   http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/parenting/foundations/character-development


Feeling passionate about parenting? If you’d genuinely like a shot in the arm for your parenting, perhaps these questions can get you started. But remember: Their effectiveness is proportionate to your level of honesty, humility, and most of all, dependence on God’s power to make His presence a reality in your children’s lives.
1. What are the most significant cravings of each of my kids’ hearts?
2. How am I doing at building a relational bridge with my children? Do I “have their hearts”? Do they feel connected with and encouraged by me? Do I feel connected with them?
3. When I’m honest, what top five values do I feel most compelled to instill in my children? Would those line up with the top five values God would want my children to have?
4. What are each of my children’s greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses?
5. Am I being faithful to pray diligently, deeply, and watchfully for my kids? (For a great FamilyLife resource on this, click here.)
6. Which child in our family is most likely to be overlooked,  and why?
7. Which child tends to receive most of my attention? Why?
8. How do I believe other people see each of my children? How do I feel about that? What portion of others’ opinions could I learn from, and what should I set aside?
9. Are my children developing more into givers than takers?
10. What life skills would I like my children to develop this year?
11. What are the events on the timeline of my children’s lives that have the most impact?
12. In what ways have my children exceeded my expectations?
13. Do I have any expectations of my children that have become demands that I clutch out of fear, rather than hopes that I seek from God by faith?
14. In what ways do I feel disappointed by my children? What can I learn from this? (For example, about what is valuable to me, about how God has made my children, about loving as God loves, etc.) What should I do about this in the future?
15. What is my greatest area of weakness as a parent? My greatest strength? What are my spouse’s?
16. In what ways are my children totally unlike me?
17. What did my parents do particularly well? In what ways do I hope to be different? (Is there any forgiveness that needs to happen there?)
18. What events from my childhood are important for me to shield my own children from? Are there ways that this has led to excessive control?
19. In what areas are my children most vulnerable?
20. What do I love about my kids? About being a parent?
21. How well do my spouse and I work as a team in our parenting?
22. How am I doing on preparing my children to be “launched” as thriving servants for God in the real world?
23. What can I do to equip my children to love well? To be wise? For successful relationships?
24. How is my children’s understanding of the Bible? How would I describe each of their relationships and walks with God?
25. Who are the other influential people in my kids’ lives? As I think of my children’s friends, teachers, coaches, etc., how can I best pray that they will complement my parenting and my kids’ needs?
26. Am I replenishing myself and taking adequate rests, so that my children see the gospel work of grace, patience, and peace in my home?
27. What are each of my kids passionate about? How can I spur on and develop their God-given passions? 
28. How am I doing on teaching them biblical conflict resolution? Am I teaching them to be true peace-makers … or peace-fakers, or peace-breakers?
29. How authentically do I speak with my kids? Am I building a bridge of trust and security through my honesty and openness with them?
30. Am I striking a good balance between protecting my kids and equipping them for whatever they may encounter when they step outside of my home, now and in the future?
31. What great memories have I recently made with my kids?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How Marriage Mentors Can Strengthen Your Relationship

By Drs. Les and Leslie ParrottAugust 16, 2017






Do you and your spouse have mentors for your marriage? Forging a friendship with a couple who has been married longer than you can be a great way to gain support and insight into married life. It’s important for you and your spouse to connect with another committed couple that’s passionate about marriage–and about guiding the two of you toward lifelong love.
Marriage mentors can help during all of the three seasons in your marriage; we call this the Marriage Mentoring Triad. We look at the triad as three sides of a triangle that make up three major seasons every couple experiences:
  • Prepare: the engagement season, plus the early years of your marriage when you’re working to launch lifelong love
  • Repair: a season that involves navigating tough situations, ongoing conflict, traumatic events, or big life changes
  • Maximize: a season where you’re ready to level-up your marriage, whether you’ve been stuck in a rut or are just ready to take the next step forward toward a more fulfilling marriage
Let’s take a deeper look at how your marriage mentors can help you navigate each part of the triad.

PREPARE PHASE

During the Prepare phase of your marriage, you and your spouse are starry-eyed and full of young love. This is the launching phase of your marriage; maybe you’re engaged or newly married, and you’re just setting out on your adventures together.
Marriage mentoring can be very powerful during this phase of marriage, because after you’ve crossed that threshold and the honeymoon is over, you’ll realize marriage isn’t simple. In fact, it can be downright hard, even during the early years.
Having mentors who can provide constructive and helpful perspective on the challenges you’ll face after the wedding will help lighten the emotional load you and your new husband or wife might be feeling. Your mentors can help bring humor back into a situation that might feel tense and unsteady, now that your new reality is sinking in.
Your mentors should be willing to share stories from their early years of marriage, and be willing to be vulnerable enough to share both their missteps and victories. You should be able to ask them for their take on things like first conflicts, first holidays, financial management, and clashing family expectations. They’ll help you see that you and your spouse can survive the challenges you’re experience because they did, too.

REPAIR PHASE

The Repair phase of a marriage is the most difficult to go through, but at some point, every couple has to walk through it–sometimes more than once. If you and your spouse are in the Repair phase after going through some really difficult or traumatic times, you’ll want to seek out a marriage mentor couple who has not only experienced something difficult together, but who has also come out on the other side stronger than before.
Couples who have been through difficult times themselves have a story to tell about their marriage. When you’re in the trenches, you need a loving, experienced couple who knows what you’re going through and has walked in your shoes. The ideal mentoring couple will have gained strength and health in spite of the challenges they faced, and be willing and able to extend help to you and your spouse.
When you’re going through a hard season in your marriage, nothing compares to having a mentoring couple who have faced catastrophe together. Whether you’re dealing with financial disaster, infertility, unresolved conflict, or infidelity, connecting with a couple who has weathered the same kind of blow to their marriage is so helpful. Through the relationship you develop with your mentors, you’ll be able to see that if they made it, so can you.

MAXIMIZE PHASE

Often, couples don’t tend to think about the status of their marriages until they’re in a crisis; it happens to the best of us. But what if we considered the state of our marriages when we’re in a good place? The Maximize phase is a great time to bring in marriage mentors who can help us take our marriage from good to great.
If things seem to be going smoothly in your marriage, it can be easy to just maintain status quo and avoid rocking the boat. But why not intentionally look for ways to increase your marital satisfaction–even just by 10% in the next year? Seeing that kind of growth in your relationship could make a world of difference for you both.
During this season, connecting with a mentor couple can help you get inspired to set and meet specific goals for growth in your marriage. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn from your mentors’ mistakes so that you have the chance to avoid making the same ones yourself in the future.
Think of mentoring as an investment for your marriage. Not only will you make lifelong friends and learn a lot along the way; you’ll also nurture the lifelong love you launched when you said, “I do.”

Sunday, August 6, 2017

How to Intentionally Pursue Joy with Your Spouse

By Drs. Les and Leslie ParrottAugust 2, 2017

Keeping your marriage infused with joy is one of the greatest challenges–but can also be one of the biggest adventures–in your life as a couple. After the honeymoon, life can get bogged down by day-to-day drudgery and less-than-ideal circumstances that are beyond your control. And while it’s a little too easy to let these things drown your happiness, it’s important for the two of you to stay focused on finding the joy that keeps you moving forward, no matter what.
Today, we’re sharing some tips on how to intentionally pursue joy together, so that when the going gets tough, the hard times won’t destroy your happiness.

1. GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER AGAIN.

In the early part of your relationship, you two seemed to know everything about each other, right? You knew your spouse’s favorite movies, foods, songs, colors, and bands. You knew what made him or her tick, and you knew the perfect ways to make one another happy.
But how long have you been married? Even if you’ve only been married for a few years, some of those details may have changed. The longer we’re together, the more changes we’ll experience over time. So if it’s been awhile since you asked, it might be time to get to know your husband or wife all over again.
What matters most to your spouse? Are their favorite things still their favorites now, or have they moved on to new and different interests? If you haven’t been paying attention, now’s the perfect time to get caught up. Share your new favorites with your spouse, too.
Another great way to reconnect is to tell each other stories about your childhood that you might not know about each other. This will deepen your sense of connection and give one another insight into parts of your lives that you may not have shared before.
When you get back in touch with the core of who your spouse is, not only will you feel closer to one another–you’ll feel more joyful and more in love than ever.

2. STAY POSITIVE.

The world is full of enough bad news as it is, right? On top of that, most couples are dealing with near-constant crises of one kind of another. It’s just part of life. But if you want to pursue joy in your marriage, it’s critical to minimize the voices of negativity in your life and keep things as positive as you can.
We can’t avoid talking about and dealing with heavy topics; it’s totally fine, normal, and healthy to address the issues in your life. But don’t dwell on the negative all the time. If you’re going through a hard time in your life (or someone close to you is), it won’t be easy to shift your communication into positive messages, but making the effort to do so will pay dividends for your marriage.
When you come together after a long work day or finally go out on that date night you’ve been looking forward to, tell each other about the good things that have been going on at work, at home, or in your activities. Tell your spouse something good that happened to you that day. On the flipside, ask your spouse what the best part of his or her day was.
It’s also inspiring and effective to keep a journal of the things you’re thankful for and the things you love about each other. When you’re having a “down” day, just add to or refer to your existing list and the gratitude will help lift your spirits.
If you’ve allowed negativity to rule your life, it might take some time to shift the polarity. But stick with it, because it can be done–and you’ll thank yourselves when you realize how much more joy you have in your life as a result.

3. MAKE ‘EM LAUGH!

For an instant shot of joy, find a way to make your spouse laugh. Better yet, look for little ways every day to bring a smile to your spouse’s face.
You know your spouse better than anyone else, so you most likely “get” their sense of humor and know what’s going to make them laugh. Actively seek out ways to tickle their funny bone, because laughter is medicine.
Here are a few quick ways to get a chuckle out of your husband or wife:
  • Utilize social media to find memes or videos that they’ll appreciate
  • Throw out a silly quote or two from a funny movie or show they like
  • Look up jokes in their particular “flavor” of humor to share
  • Impersonate a character or celebrity for them
  • Settle down for a date night in with a funny movie, show, or stand-up comedy routine
  • Go see a new funny movie or attend an event that you know will make your spouse laugh
You’re creative and you know what your spouse likes, so use our handy list or an idea of your own, and get to laughing!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Say What?

Why Did I Say Yes?

Challenge You desire one outcome, but your words take you to a different one.
Solution Saying no is not just a surface issue. It’s deeply rooted and needs to be explored further.
Hey Guys-
Have you ever heard yourself say, "Whatever possessed me to say yes to this in the first place? Why didn't I just say no?" Or, after negotiating a deal, have you ever though, "Why didn't I ask for ___? I could kick myself!" If you have, that is pretty normal or at least common. However, if it happens often, it is also a problem. It reveals that sometimes you and your words are not on the same page.

You desire one outcome, but your words take you to a different one.

Do you catch yourself responding to requests with, "I don't think I can _______" instead of saying, "No, I cannot do that" leaving the door open for them to push back? 

As I said to a CEO recently who met with a key executive to terminate the relationship and then ended up extending the contract, "What happened? You went in to break up and came back engaged!"

When I say you have a relationship to words, that may be an idea you have never thought about. But what we find is that in the depths of people's souls - where true behavior and its resulting success or chaos originates - there is a relationship with certain words. The nature of that relationship dictates a lot of what happens in people's lives. If the relationship is good and they get along well with words, they use them to create and maintain a healthy structure and boundaries. But if they do not get along well with words, them structure and boundaries are compromised and their lives become fragmented as a result. 

So, we are going to look at the word that have to do with why you find yourself in certain situations more than you might think. We are going to examine your relationship to some key words, including how you feel about them and how free you are to sue them, or not. Before we dive into looking at specific words and phrases, it's important to understand how certain words become embedded, or internalized, in our lives.

One would think that when you say yes or no to something, your answer is based on the merits of what you want to choose. When you want to grant a request, buy a product, agree to a price, take an assignment, or go to lunch with someone, you say yes. If not, you say no. But in reality, that is not what always happens. Sometimes you may be on autopilot and have less choice in your response than you may think.

Think about people you know or even yourself. Have you noticed that there are people who routinely find themselves in some situation they do not want to be in? Inevitably, they land in some activity, relationship, scheduling conflict, or problem they do not want. The reason in not that they failed to just say no once or twice. They basically never say no. Their choices are rarely about their relationship with the word "no" itself. They are conflicted about the word at a very deep level. They reach down there in hopes of finding "no," but it eludes them.

Or, think of the person on your team who know you cannot send to do that negotiation. When you need someone who can go into a meeting, ask for the moon, and expect to get it, this is the last person you'd call on. They just are the kind of people who never ask for what they want. For some reason, they can't pull the trigger. As a result, they rarely get out of life what they desire, and oftentimes they don't even get what they need. They get only what comes their way and nothing more. Then you know other people who can go into a meeting, ask for the moon, and get it. You exclaim, "How did you get them to agree to that?" And they answer, "I just asked for it, and they said fine."

The difference is not that one person wants or needs the outcome any more or less than the other. In fact, often the person who needs something the most is the one who finds it more difficult to ask. The real difference is that some people have a longstanding relationship with certain words that renders saying them virtually impossible. The result of not saying those words when we need to, or saying them when we don't, is that our lives become fragmented and scattered - a far cry from the integrated life we all want. Then we are truly out of control.

Cheers,
Henry

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Married to a secret agent....

By Dr. David Clarke, 2009
Communication presents a critical problem in most marriages. Why? Because Talking Spouse marries Secret Agent Spouse.

Every event of Talking Spouse's day has special meaning and is shared with more than one person. This morning she was flossing her teeth, and the floss shredded. The pieces of floss reminded her of the time she was water skiing at age 13 and her ski rope broke. Even though that was a bummer, that time at the lake with her dad and Aunt Betty was great. At four in the afternoon that day, she and Aunt Betty had a real heart-to-heart about boys. Aunt Betty was wearing a bright green strapless swimsuit, and there were little bits of corn stuck in her teeth from the corn on the cob she was eating.

All this from shredded dental floss! And she's going to find her husband and tell this story, including every excruciating detail, because that's what she does.

Unfortunately, Talking Spouse marries Secret Agent Spouse. Secret Agent Spouse rarely has anything to say. He has thoughts and feelings, but no one knows what they are because ... he's Secret Agent Spouse. Every event of his day, no matter how big, means nothing and is not shared with anyone.

This morning, while in a hotel on business, he was flossing his teeth, and the floss shredded. His left hand shot into the mirror, shattering the glass and cutting his hand badly. As he recoiled from the mirror impact, his right foot slipped into the toilet and got stuck. Luckily, he was able to call for help. The paramedics came, bandaged his hand and got his foot out of the toilet. It turned out that one of the paramedics was his best friend back in high school. Is he going to tell his wife what happened? Are you kidding? He's forgotten the whole incident by lunchtime.

Back home, Talking Spouse asks him about his bandaged hand and limp. He responds with, "Oh, it's nothing. Just a little accident."

Emotionally Stunted


Your Secret Agent isn't a bad guy. He hasn't killed anyone. He's not having an affair. He's a moral, decent, and upright person who works hard at his job. You know he loves you.

The one problem with him — and it is a big one — is that he doesn't show you love in the way you need to be shown love. He doesn't meet your deepest and most important need as a wife: to be emotionally connected to him. He doesn't open up and share himself with you.

Your Secret Agent is intimacy-challenged. He hides his true self behind his wall. He might be a pretty expressive guy, one with a great sense of humor. He may have no trouble talking, at least about superficial things: generalities about his day, financial matters, his job, home maintenance, the kids, vacation plans. But he closes down when it comes to any personal, below-the-surface conversation.

The Secret Agent Spouse could be the husband or the wife. The Talking Spouse knows how to express feelings and share on a deeper level. This spouse is ready, willing, and usually desperate to punch through the wall and experience emotional intimacy. The Secret Agent Spouse, however, stays behind the wall and refuses to allow any deeper level conversations to occur.

Breaking Through 


The key to breaking through your Secret Agent's wall and becoming emotionally connected is the process of spiritual bonding. There are many avenues to intimacy, but the spiritual is the most important one. To illustrate, here's a dialogue that I've had in my therapy office with hundreds of spouses married to Secret Agents:
Spouse: "Dr. Clarke, I've tried everything to get my spouse to open up and talk on a personal level. It's going to take an act of God to change my spouse and get us emotionally connected."

Me: "You're more right than you know. Let me ask you some questions. First, what kind of spiritual bonding do you do as a couple?"

Spouse: "Spiritual bonding?"

Me: "Do you have regular spiritual conversations in which each of you shares how you're doing in your relationship with God?"

Spouse: "No, we don't."

Me: "Do you pray together regularly? And I don't mean just at mealtimes."

Spouse: "No."

Me: "Do you discuss how you're applying biblical principals to your lives?"

Spouse: "No."

Me: "Don't feel too bad. Very few married couples spiritually bond. This is for three main reasons: Your parents didn't model it for you. No one ever taught you how. Not many churches provide specific teaching about spiritually bonding as a couple. But the secret to breaking through your Secret Agent's wall and becoming emotionally connected is the process of spiritual bonding."

Spouse: "This all sounds very personal. Shouldn't we get emotional intimacy first, and then branch out to the spiritual?"

Me: "Now is always the best time to include God in your relationship. Real, deep emotional intimacy in a marriage never happens without God's presence. It requires faith to step forward toward spiritually bonding when you feel vulnerable and aren't ready to be personal with your partner. It is unknown territory, and it will seem awkward and uncomfortable at first. But if you step out and do it, God will reward you lavishly."

This article first appeared in May 2010 on Focus on the Family's Thriving Family magazine website.... 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

21 Ways to Love the Person You Married

By Drs. Les and Leslie ParrottJune 7, 2017

“Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.” – Tom Mullen
It’s easy to fall in love and to marry the person you’ve fallen for; it’s a much bigger endeavor to nurture that love for a lifetime. The good news is, it can definitely be done! We’ve created a list of 21 ways to love the one you married. Put even a few of these into motion, and you’ll see your relationship continue to blossom and thrive over the years together. Let’s jump in!

1. OFFER YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.

Nothing is more validating than giving your spouse your undivided attention when they are speaking to you. When you intentionally make time to put distractions aside and focus on your spouse, they’ll feel loved, heard, and seen.

2. ASK TO SEE THEIR CREATIONS.

If your spouse is a creative person, show an interest in his or her paintings, writing, woodworking, drawings, music, poetry, etc. Engage with your spouse about what they’ve made or built, ask about their creative process, and show an interest in the materials they used to pull it all together. Praise their work and encourage them to continue creating.

3. LISTEN TO THEIR DREAMS.

Your spouse’s innermost dreams are precious; when they reveal dreams, goals, or ambitions to you, treat them as such. Even if a dream he or she shares doesn’t resonate with you at first, keep in mind that this is very personal for your spouse, and be willing to be receptive to it.

4. LAUGH AT THEIR JOKES.

Does your spouse have a funny bone–and enjoy tickling yours? Laugh at their jokes! It can be easy to let the stressors of life get to you, and stress can kill your sense of humor like nothing else. Don’t let it keep you from enjoying your spouse’s wit.

5. ALLOW THEM TO FULLY BE THEMSELVES.

You fell in love with your spouse because of the unique combination of features that makes them who they are–right? There may be times when some of your spouse’s qualities aren’t as attractive to you as they used to be…but allow them to be themselves, anyway. Your spouse will recognize and appreciate the freedom you give them to be who they truly are at heart.

6. MARVEL AT THEIR TALENTS.

You can never give your spouse too many “wows.” Is your husband great with kids? Let him know he amazes you! Is your wife a fantastic dancer? Tell her how great she is. Talents and gifts are God-given, and it’s our job as husbands and wives to recognize our spouse’s talents and revel in them.

7. BE A SAFE SPACE FOR VULNERABILITY.

You can love your spouse well by allowing them the safety to be fully vulnerable with you. Let them share their fears and weaknesses with you, in addition to their triumphs. Be generous in your willingness to be there for your spouse, and be a judgment-free zone for them.

8. SHOW UP FOR THEIR IMPORTANT MOMENTS.

Being present for your spouse’s victories–and being their biggest cheerleader–is critical to loving them well. Is your husband or wife being presented with an award, receiving a promotion, or giving a performance? Be there. If you can’t be present at the event itself, head up the celebration!

9. PUT THEIR NEEDS BEFORE YOUR OWN.

Selflessness is the key to a successful, happy marriage. Consider what your spouse may need or want before you plow ahead with your own decisions and plans. Give them the courtesy of making them a priority; sometimes, they’ll take you up on the offer, and sometimes they’ll defer to your needs and preferences.

10. BE A GOOD LISTENER.

Too often, it’s easy to tune out your spouse’s words as you wrack your brain for your own response. When you communicate–especially when you’re attempting to resolve a conflict–listen carefully to what your spouse is saying, and echo back what you hear.

11. LET THEM HAVE A “POOR BABY” DAY ONCE IN AWHILE.

We don’t always get the luxury of wallowing in whatever has upset us; once in awhile, give your spouse the gift of a “poor baby” day when they’ve had a difficult day at work, school, or home. Give them a hug, a break from any obligations you’re able to relieve them from, and just let them know you’re there for them.

12. TELL THE TRUTH IN LOVE.

Sometimes your spouse needs to hear honesty from you that may not be pleasant to receive. In these cases, communicate with as much gentleness and understanding as possible. While you may believe that being “brutally honest” or “telling the hard truth” will be most effective in getting your point across, in reality, what your spouse needs is the truth spoken in love.

13. GIVE WITHOUT EXPECTATION.

Showing generosity to your spouse without expecting them to reciprocate every time is a great way to demonstrate your love for them. If you see things that need to be done, take care of them without spectacle. If your spouse needs help with something, help them without asking for anything in return.

14. RESPECT THEIR LIMITATIONS.

Loving your spouse entails knowing what their limitations are. Avoid placing unrealistic expectations on them that they won’t be able to fulfill, and be cognizant of the limitations their individual personality traits may put on their ability to perform in certain situations.

15. HAVE EYES ONLY FOR THEM.

One of the best ways to love the person you married is to only have eyes for him or her. Don’t let your eyes, mind, or heart wander to anyone other than your spouse. Even during difficult times in your marriage, train yourself to focus your attentions on your spouse–because hard times eventually pass, and you’ll be so glad you stayed true to your husband or wife.

16. COMPLIMENT THEM.

Offering positive affirmations to your spouse at every opportunity is a great way to nurture your marriage. Compliment their appearance or tell them why you love them. Saying, “I love you because, _____,” is a great exercise in demonstrating how you feel.

17. STAY ON THE SAME TEAM.

Remember, you two aren’t enemies! While there may be some tough times in your marriage, it’s always worth it to stay on your spouse’s team. When you come out on the other side of the hard times, your relationship will be stronger and more resilient than before.

18. FALL IN LOVE WITH THEM ALL OVER AGAIN.

Time changes people. When you commit to a lifetime together, you’re committing to love a growing, changing person for the rest of your lives. Embrace the changes and let yourself fall in love with your spouse time and time again.

19. MAKE NEW MEMORIES TOGETHER.

While reminiscing about your past is a great way to stay connected, continually making new memories together is also a powerful way to love your one and only. Do fun and special things together that you’ll remember for years to come.

20. LEARN TO SPEAK THEIR LOVE LANGUAGES.

Everyone speaks in a different love language (sometimes, more than one!). You can take this quiz to learn what your love languages are, then adjust the ways you approach one another to fit the ways that you each receive love best.

21. TREAT THEM LIKE YOU WANT TO BE TREATED.

What better way to love your spouse than by applying the Golden Rule? If you find yourself at a loss when it comes to showing love to the person you married, carefully consider how you’d like for them to care for you, then do the same for them.