Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
Amidst the busy rush of our everyday lives, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all of our tasks for each day, and it becomes easy to ignore the needs of all of the other individuals in our household. When we are constantly thinking about our long to-do list for the next day, days, weeks, and months can go by without even acknowledging our partners besides a short conversation over dinner and right before bedtime.
I know in our house, the kids go to bed shortly after my husband gets home from work. So we eat dinner and immediately get started into the kids' bedtime routine, without ever having any time together. The only time we really get to even talk to each other without interruption is if we both just happen to be awake in the late hours of the night after the kids have gone to bed, and we have both finished working on our individual businesses. We have to make a concerted effort every day and every week to make sure we are showing the other person we care and acknowledging their needs, even if that means talking on the phone over my husband's lunchtime and after my youngest son's naptime.
In this day in age, where more hours are required at work to make the same amount of money, getting your bills paid every month usually takes two incomes, and your time is golden, it's more important than ever to go the extra mile to show your spouse that you care in order to maintain a healthy marriage/relationship. And when you have children, this is even more important as they are learning what it means to be a man or a woman, and what it means to be in a relationship, from their parents. If they see their parents as two people that are very affectionate and love each other very much, even if they both have to work hard to keep the family running, they are more likely to find a healthy relationship that models yours themselves when they are older.
But how can you show your spouse you care without spending a great deal of time and money, both of which are hard to come by these days? Great question! Let's look at some easy ways to show your spouse that you care.
Tell Him or Her Frequently
Absolutely nothing shows that you care about someone more than genuinely saying the words "I love you." Now I don't mean blindly repeating it to the other person's profession of love, or saying it with an eye roll or a sigh. In order for it to really have power, make sure that you are looking the other person in the eye, holding their hands if possible, smiling, and then saying it.
And then, even more importantly, follow your profession of love up with action. Have you ever heard the saying "Actions speak louder than words"? It's true! If you say it but then don't show them that you mean it with loving actions, it loses its meaning. Thankfully, I have listed 10 more wonderful things you can DO to show your spouse, with action, that you truly mean it.
I'm not saying you won't have busy days, or bad days, where you won't feel quite so loving, and that's okay. But strive to show your love physically more days than not. They'll get the message. A relationship is about two people working together to support the other. As long as you are frequently communicating your love, especially when it is needed the most, and then following through with your actions, you are off to a good start.
Speak Positively About the Other in Front of Your Kids
The way you speak about your spouse in front of your kids makes a much bigger difference than you would believe. Speaking negatively about the other parent to your kids can actually influence not only the way they think about the other parent but the way they treat them as well. Thankfully, speaking positively can as well. Tell your kids what a wonderful mom they have, how hard she works to keep the family running, and that they should be doing everything they can to help her around the house, and she'll definitely see it and feel it in the way they treat her.
Talk to your kids about how hard daddy works to provide for the family, how much he loves you and his kids, and encourage them to be loving and supportive when he gets home from work, and he will witness your love through your kids. By treating your spouse with love and respect around your kids, they will get that same experience, as well as feeling a sense of security at home and with their parents.
The way you teach them to perceive their mom and dad can also shape the way they view the opposite sex in future relationships, and how they act as a mom or dad in the future. If they believe all men are lazy and useless, for instance, or all women are nags, what does that do for their perception of the future in relationships? Train them to see the best in each other and treat others with respect and love and you're giving them the foundation for their own relationships while building your own.
Do Something Special Just Because
Love is caring for another person and their happiness above your own. And this is one way to truly show that to another person. However this requires you to step outside of your own thoughts now and again to notice what would really be helpful or show the other person you care. If you see that he is struggling to get a good lunch made for work everyday, or leaves the house without a decent breakfast each morning, maybe you could set something aside for him the night before when you think about it, that would make his morning easier.
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If you see the dishes or laundry stacking up every day, and she's looking really tired, consider putting in a load for her without saying anything. I promise nothing says love like an empty sink, or an empty laundry basket. Maybe these suggestions are too much for the limited time you have. That doesn't mean that you couldn't draw a message for them on the bathroom mirror for them to find the next time they take a shower, or leave them a cookie on the counter to find when they get out.
Fixing something they've been struggling with, or cleaning something that means a lot to them, like the car or the bedroom would also make a big difference. It doesn't have to be big to show you care, it just has to be different, and don't tell them you did it. That's what makes it so special.
Leave a Special Note
Haha By leaving a note, I didn't mean it had to be a huge display, but how good would you feel to come home to this on the door? It certainly would make you wonder what was waiting for you inside. I think one of the things I love the most about my husband is the little notes he leaves me to find in the morning when I get out of bed with the kids. Whether it's a written note of apology, a description of his appreciation for me, or even a funny little I love you somewhere in the house, they are all appreciated.
The other morning my husband left me a drawing of an eye, a heart, and a sheep to say he loved me. It was wonderful. What would work for your spouse? A note in his lunch or briefcase? A big cut-out heart in the refrigerator for her to find? Maybe a heart drawn on the bathroom mirror for the other to find? One afternoon I came upstairs to give the baby a nap and work on my blog, and my husband had stapled a beautiful, encouraging quote above my computer for me to find.
In this area, a little goes a long way to expressing your feelings. What would be meaningful to your spouse?
Say Thank You
How often do we work so hard to show someone we care and nothing seems to be making them happy? When was the last time you said thank you? I just happen to be a stay at home mom, and I know that after working hard trying to wrangle the kids, work on homeschooling, keeping the house clean, the dishes and laundry done, work on my business and keep everyone fed all day, including a delicious dinner, I'm wiped.
If my husband comes home from work and doesn't notice any of the efforts I put into keeping the house from burning down every day, day after day, I get a little resentful. I try not to, but sometimes it feels like I'm all alone in my efforts to take care of my family and keep everyone happy. And you know what? My husband feels the same way. He gets up early and comes home late, he works hard all day long to pay our bills and put food on the table, all the while missing out on spending time with his family. If I never take notice of this, and never say anything, he starts to feel resentful.
Sometimes, just some simple appreciation and acknowledgment of the effort on the part of your spouse can make a world of difference. Especially if it feels like nothing else is working, try "thank you for everything you do to take care of us".
Make an Effort to Be Positive
Positivity is contagious, and so is negativity. Greet your spouse at the end of the day with a smile, talk about everything you have to be grateful for, be encouraging and uplifting, see the positive in every situation, and you'll start seeing the same in him or her. It's depressing to be negative, and it's exhausting for the other person. No one wants to have to be the one always pulling the other back from the brink, convincing them of life's value, and making the best of every situation by themselves.
So make sure that you are contributing to looking forward with hope, appreciating the present, and setting goals for the future. It really doesn't matter which side you typically fall on, because positivity tends to spread even further. You're going to have bad days, and that's when the other person should be stepping up to fill the void and be encouraging and supportive, but someone has to get it started.
Lift up your relationship, make the other person good when you're around, and be a beacon in the dark, and when you need it, you'll get that same loving support.
Send a Text in the Middle of the Day
You likely know how busy you get during the day, regardless of what profession you're in. Maybe you also get overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, discouraged, or angry. How much would it mean if someone you loved sent you a nice message about how wonderful you were? Or how much you were loved? What if you got a message in the middle of your most frustrating day saying your favorite meal would be waiting for you at home?
Everyone likes to know they are valuable to someone else. I think it brings a smile to just about everyone's face to know that someone is thinking about them and cares. Even better, just the right message can even break up a stressful day and turn it around for the better. I know how I feel when the right message comes from my husband in the middle of an all out meltdown. But it's just as wonderful to know I'm loved during the peaceful moments of my day.
Be the one that brings a smile to your spouse's face in the middle of the day. Make him or her feel loved, appreciated, and valuable, and you'll be the one they turn to for safety and confidence in the future. Marriage is meant to be a place where you can find comfort and support. You are marrying your partner in crime, the person who can make you smile, and your confidant, right? Treat them that way and you'll be strengthening your relationship with every word you type or every picture you send.
Greet Him or Her With Enthusiasm
Something I've noticed when I show up to pick my oldest child up from Sunday school, is that his face lights up, he gets a huge smile, and he comes running for me. I love it, and I actually won't let anyone else go get him because of how good it feels to be greeted like that. When my husband comes home from work, he gets that same response from our two sons screaming "Daddy's home!"
If you knew that someone was waiting for you at home with a huge smile and a hug, wouldn't you also look forward to that feeling every day like I do picking my son up from Sunday school? Of course you would! Everyone wants to know they are loved and valued somewhere. I also love when my husband walks in the door.. actually I could probably just leave it at that. Haha But when he has a smile on his face and says he's been looking forward to seeing me all day, it really doesn't matter how the day went. My whole night has been made.
Give your spouse that gift as often as you can and you might just see him coming home a bit early everyday or have something special waiting for you when you get home. Greet your partner with enthusiasm at the end of every day and you'll see a much happier spouse.
Strive to Do More Than Your 50%
So many people say that relationships are about 50/50. Each person gives half and the relationship works. Really? So what happens when I'm only feeling 20% today or he can only give 10%? Who makes up the difference?
I believe that healthy relationships are 100/100. Everyone gives their best to take care of the other person. There will be days when I can't give 100% and that's okay, because I have someone in my life that can fill in the gap for me, and vice versa. There are many days when each of us is giving our best and it still isn't enough. There's still more to do, more bills to pay, more attention that our kids need, and not nearly enough sleep, and on those days, we carry each other.
That makes me think of the phase in our lives when my firstborn was brand new. He refused to sleep at all, ever and would keep us awake all night long screaming bloody murder. Each of us would take turns walking him, trying to figure out how to get him to sleep, while barely being able to walk ourselves. He would walk him around until he was running into walls from exhaustion, and then it was my turn to do the same. I didn't think either one of us would survive, but here we are 4 years later with another little one (that loves to sleep, thank goodness).
We made it, and we've made it through everything life has tossed our way, because even in our weakest times, we both supported each other. Some days are going to require more of you while you support your spouse, but just know that it works both ways and you'll need your spouse to pull all the weight one day too. Strive to give 100% every day. It will definitely pay off.
You and your spouse are two completely different people that have come from completely different backgrounds. When you came into the relationship, you each had your own dreams and desires. My dream had always been to be a published author and a stay at home mom.
I had the opportunity early in our relationship to step back and start writing and my husband supported me 100%. But then came his time. He wanted to move to another state to pursue his helicopter flying license, and guess what... we went. I'm not saying that you have to do anything that dramatic to be supportive and encouraging. However, you should want your spouse to be the best person they possibly can be.
If they want to eat healthier, try to be encouraging and go along with it. If they want to start exercising more, why not go do it with them? You could even support their dreams and desires by complimenting them on their ambition, giving them the time to pursue their desires, and stay up to date on any progress they make. Be a stepping stone and not a stumbling block.
Make Goals for Your Future Together
When you love someone, you imagine life together with them in the future. What kind of dreams do you both have together? Do you both want to travel the world, start a farm, or become parents? What kind of future goals can you set that would allow you to work together towards a common destination?
My husband and I have both wanted to live on some land and raise crops and animals. We talked about this on our first date. Every year we've been together we've discussed how we were working towards that goal and what our timeline for that was. It has been the theme of our whole relationship and even the light at the end of many dark tunnels. This year, this month, might finally be our time to see that come true after 10 years together.
What is driving you? What keeps you together and keeps you both motivated in tough times in your lives? By creating goals together for the future, you are telling your spouse that you want him or her in your life for the long haul. Having a joint dream helps both people in the relationship feel like they aren't in this big crazy world together, but instead have a partner. It says, "I love you and want to do this big thing called life with you forever. I have a dream and I want to do it with you."
This is the person that you chose to commit to for the rest of your life for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. So many couples are getting divorced lately because they are letting their daily schedules, and their desire to fulfill their own needs, without regard for the other person, get in the way of their duty and commitment to their spouse. It can be very fulfilling to love another person and be loved in return. But you have to make an effort, as it's not just going to happen all on its own.
Even if you took just one or two pieces of advice from this article, you'd be doing way more than many people do in their relationships today. Just as you enjoy (and daresay need to) feeling loved, accepted, and valued, so does your spouse. I think the best thing I have ever read in regards to improving your relationship with a loved one, is to treat them with the love and respect you desire. The most you feel like something is wrong, and you don't feel loved, that is the perfect moment to be living and show your love to the other person. It's likely that they are in the same boat.
Where most people would pull away and try to make the other person feel the same, creating a huge rift in your relationship, you can be different. Be kind, be loving, and try to be understanding. What is it that you would like most when feeling unloved and under-appreciated? That's what you should be doing for the other person. And I bet you get the huge bonus of getting that same love and understanding returned back to you. People that feel loved want to be loved back. Choose to show your spouse how much you care by picking one of these great easy ways. You'll be thankful you did!
© 2019 Victoria Van Ness