Monday, April 29, 2013

How to Have and Absolutely Fantabulous Marriage in 10 Easy Steps—Say I Love You

Love is what I would consider the center of a marriage. To quote Richard G Scott, “Pure love is an incomparable, potent power for good. Righteous love is the foundation of a successful marriage.” In the Doctrine and Covenants the LORD says, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and cleave unto her and none else.” This is the only time in all of scripture that I can find that God commands us to love someone “with all [our] heart” other than him. I’d say that’s pretty significant. Wives, this goes for you loving your husbands, too. Marriage is not one sided.

There are so many ways to express love, so let’s start with the most basic. Saying it verbally. Saying “I love you,” is probably the easiest and most direct way of expressing your feelings to your spouse. Some people are embarrassed to say these three inoffensive but powerful words. Others don’t feel it necessary. Some withhold them because they think that their feelings are either not strong enough to qualify, or too strong for such simple words. Whatever the reason, let it go. In marriage, it’s important to say, “I love you.” One of my favorite parts about my marriage to Cameron is that we say it all the time! Sometimes I tell him multiple times a minute because I feel it, and it feels so great to have him say it back! It never loses its significance, because we always mean it. Another quote from Elder Scott: “Do you tell your wife often how very much you love her? It will bring her great happiness. I’ve heard men tell me … “Oh, she knows.” You need to tell her. A woman grows and is greatly blessed by that reassurance. Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you. Express that love and gratitude often. That will make life far richer and more pleasant and purposeful. Don’t withhold those natural expressions of love. And it works a lot better if you are holding her close while you tell her.” If I might add to Elder Scotts words of wisdom, if you’re not holding your spouse so close that it’s impossible to do this, maintain eye contact. Let your companion see in your face how much you love him or her. It makes this expression all the more meaningful. Don’t be embarrassed to say it in public, either! This can sometimes be translated, in the mind of your spouse, to embarrassment of him or her, and that hurts feelings as well as trust.

Love is more than just a feeling. It can be expressed in more ways than speech. Here’s a great quote from Stephen Covey to illustrate that: (A man is asking Covey for advice)
“My wife and I just don't have the same feelings for each other we used to have. I guess I just don't love her anymore and she doesn't love me. What can I do?"
"Love her," I replied.
"I told you, the feeling just isn't there anymore."
"Love her."
"You don't understand. The feeling of love just isn't there."
"Then love her. If the feeling isn't there, that's a good reason to love her."
"But how do you love when you don't love?"
"My friend, love is a verb. Love - the feeling - is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?”

Love is a verb. Love your spouse. There are lots of ways to love, and I think the five from The 5 love languages by Gary Chapman are a great start. They are: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Service, Gifts, and Quality Time. I like to add patience and forgiveness, my LDS Marriage and Family teacher, Brother Richardson, added traditions. Those are so, so important in keeping yourself happy as well as your spouse. If you want to take the free quiz to find out your love language, as well as that of your spouse, click here. Everyone feels loved in different ways. For me, I need to hear that I am loved and have frequent physical reminders—hugs, hand holding, kisses, even a high five communicates to me that I’m appreciated. For my husband, quality time is a big one. I need to remember that I need to give him my undivided attention by putting away my cell phone, computer, sewing, homework, anything and really be there with him. Both of us have more than one "primary" language. We both need to be told that we're loved verbally, and we both really appreciate acts of service. Don’t be afraid to let your spouse know what your needs are. You may feel that he or she is not showing love to you, but they may simply be doing it in another “language” than yours.

If you start to feel like your love is starting to dim, feed it! We've found that the best food for love is service. As you serve others, you come to love them with a pure and Christ-like love that grows and grows more than you could ever imagine. Try to think of ways to help your spouse throughout the day. Put notes of encouragement in his briefcase or backpack. Do the dishes, even if it’s her turn. Be the cheerleader, the chore assistant, the listener, the best friend. Try to speak their love language. Be the person that your spouse needs, and in trying to serve them, your love will grow. Another incredibly important facet is to  let your spouse serve you.    It will help them grow in love for you, and you will appreciate them all the more! Pray for your spouse. Nothing will help you love them more than learning to see him or her the way our Heavenly Father does, because he loves each of us no matter what, and so much more than we can ever comprehend.

Don't ever forget to say "I love you." 
Here are some links to absolutely wonderful talks about marriage! 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How to Have an Absolutely Fantabulous Marriage in 10 Easy Steps

I know I've only been married for a few months, but I feel that I've learned a lot in a short time, and have also been given some incredible advice, and Cameron and I would like to share it with all of you! Cameron is the luckiest man alive because I am his wife!!* Cameron wrote that part. ;)

Before we get into this list, 
let’s have a few words about communication. 

It’s important to be honest with your spouse, tell them how you are feeling, express your needs and wants as pertaining to physical, emotional, spiritual, and any-other-category-you-can-think-of. How is your spouse supposed to help you if you don’t let them know what you need? “He/she should be able to read my mind!” Wouldn’t that be nice? But unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. Even the most discerning of spouses needs a little help sometimes!

But there’s another part of communicating 
that’s often forgotten: listening.

If you’re opening up to your spouse, would you want them to brush it off and say, “but you don’t understand how I feel!” or, “That’s not as important as what I need!” NO, you wouldn’t. So don’t do it to him/her. Let him finish what he’s saying. Try to put yourself in her shoes. Just because you see the world differently or don’t express yourselves in the same way, that doesn’t mean that you don’t both have valid needs. Be willing to listen. It will help you understand your spouse so much better, and he or she will be more willing to talk to you if they don’t feel like you’re going to shut him/her down.

Now that we’ve got that on the table, let’s get into that list! I think what I am going to do is give you the list today, but so as to not make this blog post into a novel, I will go into detail on one of the points every week, starting next week.

7. Some Things Should Be Sacred
8. No Secrets
9. Be Equal
10. Balance in All Aspects of the Relationship

If you have any ideas on other things that need to be added to the list, or experiences or questions you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments box!