I (Steve) want to be transparent here. Earlier in our marriage I didn’t place a high enough value on Cindy. This is in terms of how I demonstrated my love for her. Many of my actions (behind closed doors) could have easily been interpreted as, “I cared very little for Cindy.” At that time I would have disagreed and would have been defensive if someone would have called me out on it. But now I have perspective and clarity thanks to God showing me the error of my ways.
Do You Value Your Spouse?
In his book, Marital Intelligence Gil Stieglitz says there are three types of marriages. This is in relationship to how we value each other. First, is the marriage where both the husband and wife value each other with praise, attention and celebration of each other’s strengths and victories. Second, there are marriages that are value neutral. There is little or no open conflict. But at the same time there’s no focus on encouragement or notice of strengths or victories. He says these kinds of marriages are closer to an affair than they realize.
The third kind of marriage is where a couple focuses on mistakes, shortcomings and weaknesses. These marriages exist as two opposing sides, “Who is right?” Plus they focus on, “When will you admit you were wrong?” These marriages are heading to some form of divorce: emotional, mental, physical, or actual.
For a while Cindy and I were stuck in #3. But we intentionally stopped focusing on our shortcomings, mistakes and weaknesses. This took a lot of time to develop and put into practice. If you find yourselves stuck in the second or third styles you can definitely change. (We did, so can you.) Here are some insights for how to break any old negative patterns and start to demonstrate real value for each other. They come from couples therapist, Zach Brittle from a post called “5 Secrets to a Happier (and Stronger!) Marriage.” He shares what he learned from his own marriage:
Breaking Negative Patterns:
“If marriage is a journey, then it’s important that you’re oriented in the right direction. It’s way easier to make small efforts as you go than a major course correction when it may be too late. Small changes made early and often can create big changes over time. Prioritize practical expressions of kindness daily. It’ll help you remember that you like each other.
“The good news is that you can start anywhere. Anytime. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. But there’s no reason it shouldn’t be today. Try a small act of kindness. Maybe it’s a surprise gift. Maybe you just say, ‘thank you.’ Research has revealed that even the simplest gesture can initiate a positive feedback cycle which builds trust and intimacy and, ultimately, happiness.”
Simple Gestures Matter
That is so true. The simplest gesture can initiate a positive feedback cycle. We have a few free tools on our web site that can help you start to show new value for your spouse in the simplest way. Below are a few of many with the first article asking you if your SPOUSE feels valued. You may value him or her, but does your spouse feel you do. And then we give you tips as to how to SHOW your spouse you value him or her:
Cindy and I have used many of these ideas to bring about positive changes in our marriage. There are other articles and resources there that can help you with whatever you’re struggling with right now. You can find them in the Communication Tools topic. And we have other ideas in the Romantic Ideas topic. Beyond that, please look around the web site. Search for the topic you believe you could glean through that would be most helpful.
Shift Thinking to Show Value
What it all boils down to, is a shift in our thinking. That is followed by a shift in our actions. Remember, if we are a Christian we have an enemy (satan) who wants to destroy our marriage. He will do everything he can to get us to devalue our spouse.
God, on the other hand, has a guidebook —the Bible, to show us how to place the highest value on our spouse. If you’re stuck in finding it difficult (or impossible) to focus on the admirable qualities and actions of your spouse, start by going to scripture. This is especially relevant in showing value:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
We won’t say this is easy to do. But if you commit it to the Lord and start small, you’ll be surprised by how God will supply. But the key is the last word in Paul’s exhortation – “DO!”