Saturday will mark eight years since I began dating my husband. In those days we were young, stubborn, foolish, and hopelessly in love. It seemed we could never get enough of each other. Captivated by this new love we spend hours chatting aimlessly on the phone, taking long drives together, or cuddled together watching movies.
As we slowly came to know each other, there were many grand gestures of falling in love. For example, we exchanged gifts for no reason & spent many evenings in opulent restaurants. Being young and carefree meant that we often shared public displays of affection whenever we wanted. We said “I love you” dozens of times a day and sent “good morning” text messages. When love is so new, these gushing emotions come easily.
Fast forward eight years, and all of a sudden we are pushing 30, juggling careers, and growing into the roles of parenthood. We have no time for lazy Sundays in bed and lavish date nights in the city. These days we’re lucky we have time for a kiss goodbye as we jet from one obligation to the next. The grand expressions of love are behind us, though perhaps they will appear again in our old age & retirement. In the present, though, it can be hard to find those loving moments that once dominated our lives. For most of us as we get older our relationship becomes more comfortable, and the passion cools substantially.
We’re at that juncture in life where we find ourselves overworked, overstressed, overtired, and overwhelmed. It causes us to bicker more often than not. While we obviously still love each other, perhaps even more deeply than ever, it’s more subtle than it once was. Sometimes, it can be difficult to feel the love in our relationships. It’s not that we don’t want to nurture this aspect of our lives, but so often it feels impossible to stoke the flames of love when so much else is happening.
Two weeks ago, I spent the night in the hospital after having a severe allergic reaction. Despite my incessant urging to go home and come back for me in the morning, Nick never left my side. He held my hand, spoke with doctors, and kissed my swollen head as I tried to sleep. His adamance to stay was a silent gesture of love, and in the silence of the hospital at night it overwhelmed me.
How many of these silent gestures had I missed in the hectic flurry of life?
The way he does the laundry whenever he can because he knows how much I loathe it. All of the times he reaches for my hand when we’re walking somewhere. So many times when I have been up until 2 am trying to meet deadlines, so he quietly sneaks out of bed to care for Nikki and make me coffee & breakfast. Every time I’m sick enough to be bedridden he checks on me, brings me water, tucks me in, and kisses my forehead.
While none of these things are grand and boisterous each one of them is a way of saying, “I love you.” Sometimes, it seems, I am just too dopey to notice them. The reality is that these small actions are the basis of marriage. The little things are what make a relationship thrive. I know how unbearably cliche that sounds, but cliches usually exist for a reason. Life is all about the little moments, even in our relationships. In my old age, I may not remember every flashy gift my husband bought me, but I will never forget how he held my hand that night in the hospital.
How can we incorporate more of these little moments into our marriage, though?
I am so glad you asked! You did ask, right? Because I have been giving this a lot of thought over the last few weeks and I have a few ideas. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, there’s no better time for a reminder of how important it is to incorporate romance into our lives. These small expressions will make your partner feel appreciated & loved. In the long run, they will also be what keeps your marriage alive through the roughest stages.
20 Small Gestures of Love
- Take on a chore that you know your spouse hates doing.
- Join them in their favorite hobby & be engaged, even if it’s not something that interests you
- Leave handwritten love notes for them in their lunch or slip one into their pockets so they can have a pick-me-up at work.
- Stop on your way home for their favorite treat to surprise them with after dinner.
- Stop what you’re doing and dance with them for no reason at all.
- Give your spouse a little massage after a particularly stressful day.
- Join them in the shower for some impromptu intimacy.
- Text them, “I miss you,” in the middle of your workday, so they know you’re thinking about them.
- Let your spouse sleep in and surprise them with their favorite breakfast! Bonus point for serving them breakfast in bed!
- Order their favorite take-out and stream their favorite movie for a cozy night at home.
- Offer to take on some of their tasks if they seem overwhelmed.
- Get passionate by sending some naughty text messages throughout the day.
- Whisper little nothing’s in their ear randomly.
- Keep a secret stash of their favorite snack on hand for times when they’re feeling down.
- Give your partner your undivided attention. Put your phone away and your work aside they need to talk and tune into them entirely.
- Support their pursuits & passions, whether or not you fully understand them. Tell them how amazing they’re doing and push them toward their goals.
- Brag about the excellent things that your spouse does. Do it within earshot or behind they’re back.
- Swallow your pride and apologize first after an argument.
- Have a game night & suggest your spouses favorite game, whether it’s a video game, board game, or card game.
- Surprise them with their favorite dinner.
Love, real love, isn’t about expensive flashy gifts or having sex every day. It’s about the small intimate moments, the time we make for each other, and going out of our way to make each other smile.
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What is your favorite way to show your spouse a little love?