400 CREATIVE WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU!
--By Alice Chapin
Everyday goodwill overtures involve imagination, knowing a lot about the other person, & sometimes, sheer willpower. They are the sugar & spice that help keep the relationship pleasant, memorable & lasting. It is the wife who knows best what causes her husband to laugh, be satisfied, content or pleased. She can tailor her love-in-action exactly, & if she is not very imaginative, she can blatantly copy workable ideas from other women, always being sensitive, of course, to her husband's unique personality & special needs.
One wife, married 19 years, said, "Like almost everyone else, I had been demanding of him, `Make me happy!' Last year, when I purposely began to show my deep feelings with small, special favours, I became more fulfilled myself & the big surprise bonus came when I found him looking for ways to please me. I had forgotten that love breeds love & establishes a cycle, often giving magnificent overflow back to the giver. Jesus was really smart! He knew the ripple effect of love when He summed up marching orders for His followers by telling them to `Love your neighbour as yourself.' It seems the whole World is running after love & trying to get it by demanding, instead of giving more of themselves away."
Each idea which follows is a little outward statement of affection made by some wife to her man. Feel free to borrow a few that fit your personality & your husband's personality & start to elevate your love level!
THINGS YOU DO!
Loving works have to be included in daily life along with loving words. Tender feelings die when daily courtesies, special kindnesses, & touchings fall by the wayside & there are only words left to display love. The smart wife will be on the lookout for little things to add joy to her husband's day. Loving actions performed on days when you're really not in the mood are powerful messengers that say clearly, "I am willing to bother because you are worth it." There are a myriad of things to do that say I love you:
Kiss him hello at the door.
Teach the kids to hug Daddy when he comes home at night.
Stick a sign up inside the kitchen cupboard door: "If my marriage is going to succeed, I need to be a good forgiver."
Picture in your mind all the other women who would love to have him, & remind yourself that he chose you. It will make you realise how lucky you are.
After you use his car, fill the tank with gasoline.
When he goes off to work, walk with him to the car once in awhile.
Cut expenses. Manage the money with thoughts of how he would have it done.
Pray for him!
Flirt with him at a party. A wink over everybody else's head says, "You are best of all!"
Call him at work once in awhile & tell him you are thinking of him.
Keep his picture in your wallet, on the dresser, or on your desk.
When he tells a joke, determine not to help him nor give away the punch line.
In trouble? Sick? Need refreshing? Read Psalm 57:1 together & say with King David, "In the shadow of Thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities be overpast."
Smell good when he comes home from work.
Buy or make a card or nutty little gift for no special reason. Wrap it up & give it to him lovingly.
Give him a shampoo & dry his hair.
When he is tired, answer the phone for him. Take name & number so he can call back later.
Send him an invitation for a "just me & you picnic" in front of the fire on your new rug.
Ask him to have lunch with you & look beautiful for him & his co-workers when you arrive.
Put your arms around him from the rear. Tell him he smells nice. Massage his back a little.
Have a photograph taken of yourself. This is a very personal gift only you can give.
Buy a black nightgown.
On his birthday, draw a bath for him, adding bubbles or bath oil. Put a floating flower on top & lay out two towels, & two bars of soap. Pin a flower in your hair. Tell him you will join him by candlelight. Or play geisha & give him a bath with a big sponge.
Kiss him. Once in awhile, kiss his hands.
Be sentimental & frame the greeting card he sends you or put it obviously in a favourite book as a bookmark.
Leave a note for him asking: "Can we get away Saturday, just you & me?"
Yes______ No_____ Why not?________________
Picnic & pillows_________ The lake_________ Will you meet me by the car at 7 a.m.?______
Yes______ No______ Where?___________________
Read the Word together for instruction from God about the role of husband & wife in marriage.
Leave a love letter pinned to a freshly laundered shirt in the closet, inside a book he is reading, or in his lunch bag.
Make a tape-recorded love letter for him.
Massage his temples when he has a headache or hold him close in bed when he feels down.
If he remarks that his hair is getting thin, remind him that no one likes fat hair anyway.
Once in awhile, wake him gently with a kiss.
Attempt to be cheerful even when you do not feel that way.
Try to use the word "ours" instead of "mine" whenever you can.
Tell him your wedding band means a lot to you. Share some pleasant thoughts you have when you look at it, & tell him you never want to remove it. Then never do.
Learn as much as you can about his work.
Togetherness counts. Study the Word together. Leave the dishes & take a bike ride together. Build a snowman together. Wash the car or peel tomatoes together.
Privacy counts too. Allow breathing room for separate hobbies, friends & times alone. Pushing too hard for togetherness can be just as hard on a couple as too little time together.
Never ask him to do anything you should do for yourself.
On Mother's Day, send him a note saying: "Thank you for making me the mother of our beautiful children."
Never compare him with old boyfriends, your father, or former husband.
Put flowers he brings you on the table for supper even if the color clashes with the tablecloth. Dry one bouquet or frame a special flower.
Make the tenth (or whatever) of every month a special day because you were married that day. Eat out or have a special candlelight dinner at home with flowers on the table.
Pat his rear while riding behind him on the escalator.
Exchange back scratchings.
Get the kids to help you cook up surprises for Dad: When he has done something to make you proud or happy, stop by the bakery for a goodie & top it with a sparkler or trick light bulb that needs no plug, available in novelty stores. (One wife planned a Thanksgiving dinner in January because her husband escaped injury in a car accident. Later she printed "Master Salesman" on a blue ribbon & laid it by hubby's dinner plate when he sold a huge insurance policy. The kids loved the idea & made a "HERO" banner when Dad came home with the golf trophy.)
For no reason at all, celebrate Dad's Day some Saturday. He gets breakfast in bed, the lawn mowed or leaves raked & his favourite supper.
Feed the kids early or perhaps serve them dinner in their rooms or in front of a video once a week so you & your mate can have dinner alone & time to talk.
Plan a guest of honour dinner for Father's Day. (In one Miami family, Mom & the four daughters dressed up in good clothes, served roast beef to the family on the best china, & each gave a testimonial of why Dad is a great guy. The wife's comment: "Ed had been working unearthly hours & there had been terrible job pressure put on him. Support of the family was just what he needed. It brought tears of gratefulness to his eyes.")
Purposely touch, hold hands, or kiss sometimes when the kids are around. Their respect for both of you will likely go sky high, & as a bonus they probably will copy you when they get married. (A Birmingham pastor says, "Children worry about their own parents when they see friends' moms & dads divorcing. It makes kids feel secure about their home situation seeing Mother & Father show physical love for each other.")
Collect the younger children & pets & be waiting outside on the front steps for Daddy to come home from work sometimes. (One wife called her husband ahead of time & told him she & the two boys would be waiting out front to sing a new song they had been practicing for him. She said it meant a lot to him since he'd had a difficult day at work.)
Support him in disciplining the kids. Stick with him & back up his decisions. Never let the kids play you against each other. If you do not agree with his discipline, let him know privately.
THINGS YOU SAY (OR DO NOT SAY)!
Ill-chosen words can injure without leaving a visible trace, & deceitful or inappropriate ones can turn a marvellous day into a disaster. But honest words, carefully selected, can help your man like himself better, save a lot of heartache, & foster good feelings.
Here are some loving phrases to use when applicable:
"It's wonderful to have such a handsome man come home to me each night."
"You look outstanding today."
"You make that suit look great."
"I don't feel complete without you."
"I appreciate the way you have provided for our family all these years."
"It is great to be married to a man who takes troubles & problems to God & seeks His Will for his life. It makes me feel secure."
"I am glad I married you."
"You are the best friend I have."
"If you asked me to marry you today, I would."
"I wanted you today."
"I missed you today."
"I want you."
"I'll be waiting for you tonight. Don't forget to come home."
"I couldn't get you out of my mind today."
"I love the way you make love."
"It's nice to wake up next to you."
"I will always love you."
"You set off fireworks for me."
"I am proud that you are my man."
"I need you."
"I love your square chin."
"I love you for handling the kids' argument so well."
"I admire your perseverance."
"I love to see your eyes sparkle when you smile."
Tell him you want to please him as a wife. Just once ask, "What can I do to make you happier?"
Tell him that after you have looked around & listened to other husbands, you realise you have it really good. Perhaps you can say to him, "You are far superior to any other husband I have ever met." (A beautiful legal secretary's husband told her this meant more to him than anything she had ever said to him. He responded with a red rosebud in a vase on the kitchen shelf.)
Tell him you love him at least once a day.
While admiring bigger rings together in a jewelry store window, say, "I would rather have mine because it means having you."
When visitors come, show them the hobby projects or crafts your mate has made. Tell your guests they are his special creations & how much you enjoy having them in the house. Example: "John made this beautiful table in his workshop. He painted all those lovely watercolors on that south wall too."
Tell him you understand how difficult it is to be chief supporter of the family with several people depending on him for a majority of their food, clothing & shelter. You can say, "It is wonderful to have a man who is my lover, provider & protector."
When he asks you to do small things, such as take shirts to the laundry, sew on a button, replace a pocket, or iron handkerchiefs, get into the habit of saying, "OK, I will." Willingness without grumbling is refreshing & shows you take his little needs seriously. Also, he will be a lot more likely to respond the same way when you make requests.
If your husband is quiet around people, give him a chance to talk in group conversations with phrases like, "Why not tell that story about..." or "Jim, you tell them about that..." or "Jim, I will let you answer that question..." This kind of approach encourages a quiet man to express himself.
Things to say about Dad to the kids (from a mother of four children, including a set of triplets:)
"Dad is head of our house. Let's listen when he talks."
"Fathers are to listen to, not argue with."
"Not right now, please. I am talking to your father."
"Dad works hard for us & is tired tonight. Let's try to make a quiet evening for him." (When the wife said this, the kids quickly took up the idea by playing soft music, bringing Dad his slippers & iced tea, trimming the hedge, making the weekly phone call to Grandma for him, & promising not to squabble.)
Other examples of how to brag enthusiastically about your husband to the kids:
"Daddy is a wonderful outdoorsman. He taught me how to identify nearly every bird & tree."
"Dad handled that cranky neighbour with the mean dog really well, didn't he?"
"Hooray for Dad! He's a volleyball champ!"
"Good going, Honey! Not many men get a promotion after only six months."
Never, never humiliate your husband by talking about him to others when he is right there in the room.
Never criticise him or apologise for him in public.
Decide firmly that you will never talk about your marriage problems to anyone except God or a well-chosen counsellor. The more you gripe, the more you will burn with resentment.
Never, never say, "I told you so."
Determine to keep secrets when he confides in you. Spilling secrets can destroy communication because he will not want to share again with a tattletale.
Never talk in bitterness against your husband to your children.
Refrain from making derogatory remarks about men in general, telling jokes about their roving eyes, feelings of superiority, driving ability, machismo or whatever. Your husband would probably take such talk personally.
LOVING YOUR IN-LAWS!
Mary, a level-headed Savannah wife with a feisty, sharp-tongued father-in-law, shared: "It always helps me to remember that no matter how I feel about Jerry's dad, he & his wife were God's placement to bring my excellent husband to adulthood. Somehow, despite their own bad tempers & haphazard values, they managed to instill in him the good qualities I enjoy today. It may just be that these people, however contentious or odd they seem, were placed in my life as God's finishing tool to mellow me & enhance my ability to love people."
Write notes to grandparents about your children. Send them cards on Mother's Day & Father's Day & be sure to include family photos when you can.
On Mother's or Father's Day, send a note to his parents thanking them for providing you with such a good man. Or, compliment your husband in front of his parents & tell them, "You raised a fine son."
Be patient with his parents even if they are a bit trying. Love them for your husband's sake.
Never side with your father or mother in arguments against your mate.
Here are some good rules if you are somebody's mother-in-law:
Never say anything to either your son or daughter about his or her spouse that you would not say in front of the person.
When an argument starts in your married child's home, take a walk.
Take it easy on giving advice.
AROUND THE HOUSE!
Instead of nagging Rick about the doorbell that needed fixing, Mary Ellen hung a pie plate & huge wooden spoon beside the back door just before he got home from work. Two hours later, the doorbell was working again. When the toilet needed repair, she taped a note to the tank that said: "I played Mount St. Helens three times today!"
Searching for fun ways to handle touchy matters or everyday situations takes effort, & your husband knows it. Taking the trouble to add a little playfulness, a few well-planned surprises, some sensible restraint, or a new attitude to life at home tells him that you are striving for harmony even though there is the serious business of a household to be run. Try these:
Whistle & sing when you feel happy. Try to enjoy being right where you are. Your husband wants you satisfied in your job as his wife.
Keep the house picked up. Dishes in the sink day after day, unmade beds & things strewn all over tell him you are not keeping up your end of things, & he is disappointed. If you need help, ask for it forthrightly in a matter-of-fact voice without complaining.
Do not assume all men are handy with tools. Do not expect him to do fix-it jobs just because your father could. Maybe his father never taught him how!
If several chores need doing, presenting one a day makes you look like a persistent nag. Instead, collect them into a list & tack it up once a month or so over his desk or on the bathroom door. If he forgets, make a bigger new list on brighter coloured paper & post it in a more obvious place.
Make up your mind that if he volunteers to do a portion of the household chores, you will not criticise the way he does them.
Determine never again to refer to yourself as "just a housewife". Remind yourself that child care & being a loving wife are complicated & demanding jobs, & that running a household is a challenging career.
Little things can be such big acts of love. If he likes tacos & you have time to make it, serve it once a week. If he is crazy about corned beef & cabbage, cook it even if you dislike the odor. If he likes his shirt collars pressed down, do it. If he thinks the jackets should be removed from all new books, strip them. If messy butter dishes are his pet peeve, use a clean one daily.
Develop an "I'll help you, you help me" attitude. (Says Nell, a housewife & mother of 5 daughters, "Doing dishes, cleaning up the yard or picking green beans together for dinner deepens our friendship & appreciation of each other. When I grabbed a sponge & pail & went at the muddy car right alongside my husband, he sat down & helped me shell peas on the front porch that evening because he knows how tedious it is & how I detest the job.")
Leave his razors & tools alone.
Take the garbage out some days without reminding him that he forgot. Never mention it again.
Notice the nice things he does around the house. Purposely mention the neatly raked yard, the clean car, the repaired lawn chair.
Surprise him by doing a job he has put off, such as weeding, cutting the grass, polishing shoes etc. (One wife said she washed & waxed her husband's motorcycle!)
Get up when he does in the morning. Try to look pretty & cheerful.
Before leaving the house, tell him where you are going & when you expect to return. If he is not home, put a note on the kitchen table. Just for fun, you can sign it with a lipstick print.
Ask yourself: If I were going to choose someone to live with, would I choose me? Why?
Live every day with your man as if it were the last. Ask yourself: If I knew he or I were going to die tomorrow, how would I treat him today?
When possible, invite women friends in only when he is not around.
Talk to girl friends on the phone when he is out of the house. Let them know you do not particularly like to chat with them in the evening when your husband is home.
Cook greens on the day he brings them fresh from the garden, even though you are having pizza for supper. Cook the vegetables from his backyard garden even though some are pretty small.
Peel & separate oranges; pick grapes off the stem for a bag lunch; put sugar in his coffee, butter on crackers, & sour cream on baked potato. (A doctor's wife says, "These seem like small things, but my husband appreciates me for the little favours that seem crazy or even solicitous to somebody else.")
Decorate an anniversary cake with the message, "I'm glad I married you."
Bring iced tea or lemonade out in the yard when he is mowing the lawn on a hot day.
To celebrate a very special occasion, get out your big stainless steel bowls & fill them brimful of strawberry shortcake & whipped cream instead of serving supper.
Turn on soft music & light a candle for the dinner table after the kids have finished & gone out. Linger for good conversation.
Good sex allows physical communication of love. Your husband dreams about exciting sex experiences. So do you. Marriage is meant to be fun, & sex is half the fun. Sometimes, sensational sex comes because one of both of the partners is innovative & perhaps a little daring. Trying new things not only adds fun, it builds memories. A man or woman is not likely to go "shopping" outside if sex life is great at home.
Place a carnation or some other flower on his pillow. Give it a special meaning so he knows what is ahead each time he sees it.
Go to bed when he does.
Make love in new places. Be creative!
Once in a while, love him awake in the early morning in your own special way.
When the alarm rings in the morning, turn it off, put your arms around him & say, "I love you."
Occasionally, cover him back up when you get out of bed in the morning. Tell him he has 10 more minutes to sleep & that you'll wake him then. This may mean you'll need to get up earlier.
Tell him you are glad he is there when you reach out for him in the middle of the night.
If you cannot get away, plan a one-night mini-honeymoon at home. Farm the kids out. Serve a candlelight dinner. Have the bed covers turned back. Plan to make a romantic night.
At bedtime, shower together using a tube of liquid body shampoo. Soap him all over with your hands & let him do the same for you.
Once in a while, spray the sheets with perfume.
Bring a tape player into the bedroom for quiet music.
Buy a blue light bulb for the bedroom lamp.
Remind yourself that men usually need sex more often than women.
Purposely think thoughts about your husband that will make you a more willing bed partner.
Tell him what you enjoy in lovemaking. Let him know exactly what pleases you. Show him where & how you like to be touched. How else will he know if you do not tell him? Ask what you can do to make loving better for him.
Tell your husband you would like to be his lover. Ask what attributes a lover should have.
Carry the glow over to the next day by calling him or writing a note. You can say, "I love you" or "I love you this morning too" or "We have a pretty hot love affair going here, don't we?"
Rub his back & listen to good music in bed once in a while. Fall asleep while listening, with no sex demands.
If you find yourself running off at the mouth continually right after you get in bed together, suspect yourself of trying to avoid sex. A monologue about Junior's last report card, the broken washing machine, or your frustration with the new boss at the office is not very conducive to loving.
After good loving, say to him (if you feel this way):
"I would walk around the World for the feeling I have right now."
"I like being your lover."
"No one else could make me feel like this."
Start laying the groundwork for a good night life with a sensuous good morning kiss. Anticipation can brighten the whole day (& the night).
When one of you is too tired for sex, suggest setting the alarm for 5 a.m. Early morning loving can be warm & satisfying with the house quiet & the relaxation that comes after a good night's sleep. Or, say to him, "Let's make tomorrow night special instead. We can get the kids to bed early & have a nice supper together, then have sex twice as good as it would be tonight!" Start off the next day with a reminder of what you have in mind for the evening.
BEING BEAUTIFUL INSIDE & OUT!
Some physical beauty will slip away with the years even though most women yearn for a beautiful face & figure forever.
Inner beauty is another matter. Not only can it be truly fadeless, but it can grow daily, & because the face reflects what goes on inside, radiance can actually increase with age. Cultivating a peaceful, quiet spirit inside can transform the outer self, making eyes sparkle & smiles flow easily. Everyone admires a person with a beautiful inner disposition who quietly trusts God through all situations, sees the good in others, always wants the best for them, & desires to follow Jesus' directions to love your neighbour as yourself.
A wife can forthrightly question her husband about what he likes best & least in her after several years of marriage, & with a "chin up" attitude to avoid being hurt, map out plans to improve inside & out to please him. A youngish grandmother, age 40 & married 19 years, asked her spouse to fill out the following marital survey she created herself, telling him, "I simply want to find out some things so I can get better & better for you."
1. How can I please you more as a wife?
2. What bothers you most about our relationship right now?
3. What is the best thing about our life together right now?
4. Are there areas of our life together about which you think it is hard to communicate? What are they? How can we improve?
5. Name two minor changes you would like to see in me?
6. Name two major changes you would like to see in me in the next 5 years.
Helps & hints to improve your inner beauty. Try these practical suggestions if you find yourself constantly grumbling, complaining, or finding fault:
1. Sing aloud the Scripture song, "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice & be glad in it!" (Psa.118:24)
2. Read the Book of Proverbs & take it seriously.
3. Try purposely substituting gratitude for complaining. Get a paper & pencil to make a list of blessings. Giving thanks can raise spirits as nothing else can.
4. Set aside a block of several days when you make up your mind with firmness not to be critical or complain. Make it a point not to fuss about small things or make mountains out of molehills. Mark the days on the calendar, & each evening, check to see how you are doing.
5. To avoid boredom & self-pity that often accompanies mundane household tasks, memorise these: 1 Cor.10:31, Mat.20:26-28, Rom.12:9-21.
6. For self-preservation, get up early. Use the uninterrupted time. Enjoy the solitude of silence, pray, read the Word.
7. Bless the one who hurts you. Instead of retaliating when someone has made you suffer, by pure willpower, actually pray God's blessing on that very one. How distinctive to give a blessing when everybody else in the World seems to be paying back evil for evil. (One woman commented: "I was constantly complaining about Jim & the kids throwing their clothes around & messing up the house in general. I knew that a woman beautiful to God does not hold a grudge or blame others for her attitude. Following God's orders in Rom.12:14-21, I prayed for money for a new suit for Jim & that God would bless him with a more satisfying job & a new car because the old one was so undependable in getting him to work. I asked for a more understanding teacher for one of the twins & new friends for our shy daughter when we moved. We haven't gotten the new car yet, but I felt beautiful inside & pleased with myself as a wife & mother. I am trusting God to change their bad habits.")
8. Post this thought from Charles Spurgeon on the cupboard door: "Love stands in the presence of a fault with a finger on its lip."
9. Instead of constantly feeling sorry for yourself, your husband, or your children, learn to communicate with God about problems. 2 Chr.16:9 says that the eyes of the Lord run to & fro throughout the whole Earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of the righteous.
10. Ask your husband to pray with you about things that need changing in your life. He will appreciate your efforts to correct your own faults. Prayer can calm spirits & change feelings about each other.
More marriage reminders:
Anyone can make demands. It takes a strong person to spend time satisfying another person's needs.
"I am a daughter of the King." (See Eph.1:4,5)
If I am sullen & grouchy at home, but gracious & friendly at work, church & the club, there is something wrong in my life & I need to ask God to show me how to correct it.
I must not allow my good attitude to depend on something or somebody. It is ridiculous for a born-again woman to allow her happiness to depend on such erratic things as how a 3-year-old behaves today; whether or not a husband is cranky or friendly, or if there is enough money to pay every bill. My attitude should be dependent only on a continuing, stable relationship with God Who loves me & provides for me at all times, night & day, no matter what.
I cannot excuse my bad nature or habits by telling others, "That is just the way I am." There is no place in the Bible that condones crabbiness, persistent hostility, stubbornness, nasty tempers, impatience, unkindness, negativeness, quarrelsomeness, or lack of self-control, no matter how they were acquired or how deprived my childhood was.
Test yourself. A domineering woman, especially one who grabs the upper hand under the guise of being helpful, is not beautiful. Often even quiet women have underhanded ways they themselves do not recognise as efforts to be boss. Take this mini "Power Grab" test developed by an Atlanta marriage counselor who has written a book of advice for wives. A score of consistent "yesses" indicates you may have a heavy hand in your house.
1. Do I consistently tell my husband which route to take when driving because it is shorter or more scenic? (This kind of woman rides with a map in her hand.)
2. Do I assume he cannot handle his own affairs by making little interfering suggestions about his male-oriented business, work, etc.? Example: "Have you picked up the meat from the butcher as you said you would for the men's fellowship at church tonight?"
Beauty outside: Helps & Hints: Ask your husband how he wants you to look...your hair, your clothes, your make-up. Then, as much as you can, try to please him.
Attend a good grooming workshop for some new ideas, or go to a place where cosmetics are sold & ask for a free demonstration to learn how to expertly apply makeup yourself.
Do body care in private. As much as possible, cut toenails, put on cold cream, shave body hair or gargle behind closed doors. Let him see you when you are manicured & beautiful.
Try to look your best when your husband is at home. Looking great across the supper table from each other never hurts any marriage!
After a spat, what Hostile Harry can fail to get the "I love you" message from a wife who hangs a banner in the bathroom saying: "I will be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, as the Bible suggests in James 1:19"? What Quiet Quentin can remain silent & noncommunicative about his feelings when his wife expresses her longings by playing the haunting song "Do You Love Me?" from "Fiddler on the Roof"? This is creative communication, yet who thinks of it? It not only makes a marriage sparkle with distinctiveness, but keeps the friendship factor intact while getting the message across.
Some wives express a need for tactful ideas that will warm a heart, sponsor a smile, or tickle a rib to get their mate's attention & communicate love in unique ways. Others say that they need "attitude adjusters" that will change their own frame of mind & thus minister to a husband's hurting spirit or bitter temperament, making him more receptive to open & honest conversation.
Many thick books have been written about couples' communication, but advice is often general as well as generous, lacking practical & simple tips & pointers. Yet, walls can sometimes be broken down & the old glow revived with a little practical living room therapy. Here are helps & hints to improve your own communication & help you live more easily with a mate who may not yet have learned to communicate very well with you.
If you have both been too busy, write with your finger on a fogged window or mirror: Spending time together communicates "I love you." Let's. I do.
Hold his arm while walking down the street. Touch him as he walks by in the hall or kitchen. Touching says, "I love you."
Read aloud to him Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem that begins, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..."
Write a love letter marked "personal" & mail it to his office. (Jan wondered why Artie did not say a word about her carefully worded letter written on fancy stationery. On vacation the following week, Artie commented, "My best girl friend sent me a racy letter at the office last Friday. What do you think I should do about it?")
Pin an "I love you" note on his pillow.
Lessons in good communication from wives & other experts:
After months of therapy with a Christian psychologist, I could finally admit that a secluded person like myself, who withdraws from others, might be self-centered & even lazy. I learned that communication is work & interaction tiring. It takes a lot of effort to listen closely & then activate the brain to think through an intelligent response.
Noncommunicative people seem indifferent & stingy about giving themselves away. Indifference (not caring) is the opposite of love & is always a put-down of the other.
For years, Bert would say to me: "I don't like being around you when you're angry." My resentful reply would be, "But I'm not angry!" I was brought up in a family that hid feelings, especially adverse ones. It took a long time of talking with my wise pastor before I realised I had been programmed to ignore my feelings for so long that I was actually unaware they were there. I now know I don't need to be ashamed of my feelings & that my union with Bert is enhanced by sharing them, whatever they may be. Hiding feelings involves pride & self-centeredness, hurts those around me, & makes me feel lonely because I am not getting close to anyone. Tuning into my own thoughts & feelings took practice. My pastor suggested I spend quiet time daily focusing on my feelings & writing them down, first about one person, then another, then about issues.
From Tina, who is doing a college research paper on communication:
Only about 3% of communication comes through words. I found that studies show that nearly 58% of what we communicate to others is through facial expressions & about 40% through voice inflection or gestures. That reminded me that smirks, sighs, scowls & giggles, as well as broad friendly smiles, let my partner know how I feel.
Playing the martyr or giving the silent treatment cuts off communication & is probably sin. My silence infuriates my husband & causes confusion because he has to guess what I am thinking. I have come to realise that silence is often an attempt to control him by refusing to reveal where I stand on issues.
From Betty: Communicating legitimate complaints with a touch of humour helps:
"You talc too much."
"You are afflicted with a deadly case of Monday morning mattressitis."
"Sitty Slickers get heart trouble. Let's get out & get some exercise."
From Betty's pastor-counsellor husband: Some people never talk above the superficial level...the weather, kids...in short, about things. But good & satisfying communication that provides closeness for a couple allows the other to look inside you & see what is going on there. Noncommunicators feel uncomfortable continuing a conversation when it gets too close to revealing feelings & they have subtle ways to cut it off, inadvertently hurting the partner badly. Below are ways commonly used to destroy perfectly good conversations that become threatening. Check yourself to see how you are doing.
Being Judgmental. Jim tells Ann his disappointment about not getting a promotion at the plant. He feels relieved to talk about it till Ann says, "If only you had stayed later at work on Mondays & taken that trip out to Chicago, you would have been promoted. You never do the little extras the boss suggests."
Inattentiveness. While Jim tells Ann about his new flower garden, Ann eyes her fingernails & then flips to a new TV channel.
Interrupting. Jim shares with Ann the results of last night's bridge game. When he gets to the punch line, Ann sees the dog chasing a car & interrupts by shouting, "Spotty, stop that right now! Get back here!"
Turning a Good Conversation into an Argument:
Jim: It was a great party, Hon. The food was the best ever & we invited just the right people. Your white dress was beautiful & you were a knockout...
Ann: I hate that dress. You are always telling me how good I look & I think you just want something to say. You know I need a new dress, but we never seem to have the money.
Answering a Question with Another Question instead of Giving a Reply:
Jim: I was thinking today how much more I love you now than before.
Ann: Before what?
Answering with a trite remark:
Jim: Do you think we can get the mortgage to buy our new house?
Ann: Sure. Just bring an honest face.
Giving advice when your partner only wants a listening ear:
Jim: My back has been aching again lately. It gives me a lot of trouble at night.
Ann: You should get a new chair for your office & quit tennis.
Changing the subject abruptly because of Embarrassment:
Ann: (feeling flattered) The new guy at work really gave me the eye all last week. He didn't believe I was married until I refused a date for the third time today.
Jim: (Not willing to reveal his jealousy) Yeah? Did you hear about the accident down on Elm Street this morning? Six people were hurt.
Not answering at all or making short, unrevealing responses:
"I guess so."
"I'm going now. Be back later."
Pretending You Do Not Have Any Opinions or Feelings:
Jim: Do you want to go to the meeting tonight?
Ann: I don't care.
Jim: How do you feel now that you've actually put in your application for the new job?
Ann: Oh, all right, I guess.
Jim: What did you think of the Republican Convention on TV today?
Ann: I don't remember what went on. (She walks away.)
Making inappropriate gestures that bespeak not caring:
This includes such actions as: Shrugging shoulders, nodding for yes or no answers, turning your back, slouching in the chair, mocking by mimicking a favorite dialect, or making funny faces for a laugh when giving an answer.
WHEN HE TRAVELS
"I realise how much I miss you when you are away for awhile."
"You look hot & tired, I'll get you some iced tea."
With a little forethought, a wife can often make her husband's travels easier, & their home an appealing place that his mind returns to over & over when he is hundreds of miles away. Ideas from salesmen's wives:
While he is packing & getting ready to leave, ask, "Can I do anything for you while you are gone?" He will probably be miles behind in everything after a few days away. (One wife polished all her husband's shoes. Another weeded his garden.)
Be positive & excited about his trip before he leaves & the children probably will be, too.
Help the kids keep a diary of daily doings at home to share with Dad when he returns. Have them cut pics from old magazines to illustrate & add a couple of pages a day.
When he returns:
Teach the kids the "When Daddy is home" routine...no questions, no complaints, no requests until he has had time to change his clothes & relax.
Meet him by the car, put your arm around his waist, & walk him to the house. Say, "I couldn't wait until you got home."
EVEN THOUGH YOU GET ANGRY!
She is a night person. He goes to bed at ten. She is always late. He learned punctuality in the army. She is shy, a homebody. He loves people & parties.
How do two vastly different people with diverse backgrounds, values, & ideas function as one even to settle simple questions such as who puts the kids to bed, which movie to attend?
Differences of opinion are natural. Arguments are inevitable. In a way, they are a healthy sign, an indication that the marriage is intact & the partners have not lost interest. But agreeable disagreement must be learned & a couple needs to find ways to argue constructively, to make up creatively, & to live tolerantly with things that cannot be changed.
Effective confrontation. Cheryl feels resentful, burdened with a full-time job & the complete housework load. She needs to talk it out with Frank. Cheryl has tried before to confront him, but once Frank continued reading his magazine & another time he walked away to tell their five-year-old to stay off the new lawn. This time she has a better plan:
"Frank, I have something important to talk over with you. Let's meet in the den at 8 o'clock after I put the kids to bed."
Frank is pleased with Cheryl's straightforwardness, & a little surprised that she made an appointment with her own husband. He is curious about the subject of their talk. Cheryl thinks he will be paying close attention this time because she let him know how important it is to her by going out of the way to get them together. There will be no interruptions. She purposely postponed the discussion until she could spend time coming to grips with her own feelings & thinking through what they are before she speaks with him. Her aim is not to put Frank down, but to let him know how she feels & to ask for help. Over & over she uses the words "I feel..."
"I feel frustrated & angry because I have not been able to share this very well with you before."
"I feel tired out..."
"I feel hurt that you did not seem to understand..."
"I feel all alone with this problem..."
Cheryl has learned to confront effectively. She is sharing her heart, not her ammunition. She has attacked the problem, not her mate.
Making up creatively. Another time, Cheryl & Frank argue about money. After a few days, the kids are beginning to notice Mom's & Dad's scowls & are hurt by their parents' silence around the house. They wonder if it is their fault. How do you make up & keep sensitive egos intact?
Cheryl makes "I love you anyway" badges, pins one on herself, & tapes others to the evening paper, Frank's tie rack, his toolbox, & the shower handle. It is a signal that she is willing to make up. Frank reacts by making his own badge that says: "Frank loves Cheryl even when they argue; let's all go over to the Dairy Queen." Cheryl is pleased. She responds with a smile & a private note stuffed in his shirt pocket that says, "Later, we could even continue making up after dark."
Frank was softened by Cheryl's thoughtful, loving, & unique approach. Cheryl has learned to make up creatively.
From a pastor's wife who admitted constant criticism of her husband & almost daily quarrels: "After lengthy prayer beseeching God to stop our arguing, God showed me that He is the author of my husband's personality & that what I view as faults are really a tool God uses to make me cling to Him for solutions. When I began to admit that only God is powerful & authoritative enough to bring about such change, I was able to purposely pass over irritating qualities & trust God, through my prayers, to make alterations in my husband if they were needed."
Here are favourite marriage menders from a group of Georgia wives that will help you live easier when you are angry at your wonderful sinner:
Do not walk out in the middle of an argument.
Ask God to help you accept the things you cannot change.
Settle arguments before the sun goes down, as the Bible recommends in Ephesians 4:26.
Speak softly as much as you can during an argument. Tell your mate how you feel without shouting. Arguments can be settled just as well with reasonable voice levels, & a suddenly lower voice volume will catch him off guard, pleasantly. "A soft answer turneth away wrath." (Prov.15:1)
Say to your partner during an argument:
"I will try to understand how you feel about this matter."
"This much I know. You are a good man & you deserve a good wife who understands."
"Let's write down the points of agreement we have & go from there."
Say to yourself:
"I do not need to be right all the time."
"It requires maturity to accept criticism graciously."
"My partner may not be trying to hurt me. He is just seeing things in a different way. Differences of opinion do not make one of us right, the other wrong."
Determine to keep hurtful words & troublesome phrases out of the discussion when you are angry. Avoid:
"I told you so."
"You are just like your mother (or father)."
"George, why is it you always....?" (Phrases such as "You always..." or "You never..." do not help settle an argument!)
When you are hurt or angry, purposely force your mind to recall three happy times you shared together previously. Remind yourself that every marriage has its good & bad times & that good times will come again.
After an argument, put your hand on his arm or shoulder & say nothing. Touching shows caring, no demands attached.
Forget ancient history. Determine not to stockpile his negative attitudes & bad deeds in your memory to be dredged up during future arguments.
Some people bury the hatchet but never forget where. If you find it hard to forgive, remind yourself that it takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge & that there is a great freedom in forgiveness. A grudge enslaves your mind to one subject for days.
A good motto: "If I am wrong, I will say so. If I am right, I will shut up."
Suggest that you pray together after a fight. It is hard to hold bad feelings about someone you pray with! The family that prays together stays together!