We walked out of the grocery store hand-in-hand, but as we reached the car my husband let go and headed for the driver’s seat. For what felt like the thousandth time, he hadn’t opened the door for me. I stopped where he’d let go of my hand and waited in disappointment for him to turn around.
He looked back and smiled at me. “What, sweetie?”
“Well … it’s just that … you never open the door for me anymore, and I really, really like that,” I said, staring awkwardly at the ground before continuing. “Do you remember our first official date? Do you know how I knew you were the one?”
“How?” he asked.
“Because you opened every single door for me. The movie theatre door, the car door, the door to Steak ‘n’ Shake. Every single door.”
Now, all of this might sound silly to you, but having my husband open the door for me is a big reminder of how much he loves and cares for me. It makes me feel special, treasured and secure. That’s why I was saddened in the grocery store parking lot, because he had stopped showing love to me in this way.
But the door swings both ways. And later that night, we talked about the ways that I’d stopped being a lover and encourager for him too.
Falling in love is sensational, magical and sweet. But staying in love and cultivating a strong marriage — that’s something that takes work. As husbands and wives, we can’t just go through the motions of daily life and expect our relationships to grow deeper. We have to show up, roll up our sleeves, put our spouses first and actively demonstrate our love.
Dear sisters, if we are to be imitators of Christ and godly wives, we have to move from having an “I’ mindset to having a “we” mindset. In the heat of the moment, when life is busy, stressful or frustrating, we have to commit to choosing selflessness over selfishness and loving our man with everything we’ve got.
It’s easy to think about and dwell on the ways that we want to be loved and encouraged better: open the car door for me, tell me I’m beautiful, buy me flowers, surprise me with candles and a bottle of wine, take me out to dinner, dance with me under the stars. The hard part of marriage is to put loving and encouraging our husband into practice.
But there’s hope for us all, and all we have to do is commit to making an effort. So, if you’re wondering how to encourage your husband better, here are eight ways to get started (eight ways that are husband approved, I should add!):
Write a note.
Whenever my husband leaves to go on a business trip, I always leave him a note in the morning letting him know that I will miss him and that I hope he has safe travels. Notes are a tangible way to show love and, in the digital world we live in, they are so rare and valuable. Surprise your man by leaving a note on the mirror, refrigerator, or in his lunch box or car. A note is worth 1,000 hugs.
Say thank you.
I know, this one sounds so simple, but if you honestly stop and think about it, how often do you thank your husband? If you’re like me, probably not as often as you should. Thanking him for the big and little things — taking out the trash, cleaning the dog, helping fold laundry, surprising you with a gift — shows him that he is appreciated.
Tell him why you love him, and remind him often.
When we first fall in love, we make a point to tell someone why we love them, and we don’t let them forget about it, either. But after “I do,” some of us stop reminding our spouse that we’re still madly in love with them.
Wherever you are, I want you to take out a piece of paper right now and write down the first 10 things that come to mind when you think about why you love your husband. Maybe it’s his smile, or the way he takes care of you. Maybe it’s his work ethic, or his tender heart. Whatever those reasons are, make a point to remind him of those reasons a couple of times a week.
Be genuinely interested in what he has to say.
It’s been said that men are like waffles, while the female brain is like a big pile of spaghetti. Though I understand this might not describe every one of us, I know it certainly can describe me. Do you ever find yourself zoning out while your husband is talking? This can be a super discouraging for our men!
At the end of the day, our thoughts and agendas are not the most important things to be thinking about. Instead, we need to make it a point to listen to our husband and show genuine interest in his passions and endeavors. Ask him what he thinks about things. Ask him what he wants to work toward. This kind of attentiveness helps build up his confidence and leads to deeper conversation, which ultimately brings a couple closer.
Tell him what you need.
No one’s a mind reader. Not your mom, not your friend and especially not your husband. We show love (and grace) to our husbands when we help him understand our wants, needs, desires, etc.
Don’t try and force him to be someone he’s not. Love him for who God made him to be.
This has been a huge one for my husband and I. There was a point when we were dating that I tried to force him to be this person who worked out at the gym five days a week. I’ll spare you the details of those uncomfortable months, but the gist of it is this: I love my husband best when I encourage him, not when I try to turn him into someone that he’s not.
We can pray for our husbands to change. We can encourage them to embrace new ways of living and thinking. But we change the essence of who they are. That’s God’s business.
Create reasons to laugh and smile.
I believe one of the best medicines for a joy-filled marriage is laughter. A healthy couple is a couple that can be silly, laugh and poke fun at each other. You don’t have to be a comedian. You can reminisce about a time when something hilarious happened, or try making fun of yourself. Just be you and make a point to celebrate the quirkiness of your marriage. It’s what makes the two of you unique.
Surprise him with a date night.
One of my favorite things to do for my husband is plan a date night. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, but I aim to surprise him with something every other week. There’s something about getting all glammed up, going out, talking about life and being adults together. It takes me back to the time we first fell in love and it reminds me that dating shouldn’t stop after the wedding ceremony.
I originally wrote this post for iBelieve.com. Read all of my articles for iBelieve here.