All the Small Things
Isn’t it amazing how quickly small things can add up? The irritations of life, waiting in lines, morning traffic, laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, and spam call after spam call! Similarly, small things add up in marriage. Stress from daily life, work, kids, health, and finances can all take a toll on marriage and how you view your spouse. Tense interactions, disagreements, and conflicts begin to add up, and all of a sudden your spouse looks more like your enemy than your soulmate. You may even find yourself asking questions like, “What did I see in this person?” “Do you even like me anymore?” “Do I even like you?” “What has happened to our sex life?” “Do you even know me?” “Who are you?!?”
Contending for emotional connection amidst life circumstances is difficult! How you view your spouse impacts how you feel when you are around them. Relationship expert, John Gottman teaches that building fondness and admiration of your spouse is more connecting and important than building better communication. Fondness and admiration help you to identify ways that you like, are attracted to, and inspired by your spouse. Scripture exhorts us in Philippians 4 to remain in unity with one another by bringing to our awareness the good in one another. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Noticing the admirable things about your spouse helps you to maintain the perspective of teammates and not enemies. Think of marriage like a plant that needs nutrients, sunlight, and water to live and grow. The marriage relationship is a living covenant that needs nourishment. Building in small habits and opportunities for connection can be like sunlight and water to a thirsty “love fern” (anyone else watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 days?). This is not to deny the difficulties and conflicts in marriage, but it is also important to consider what view of your spouse you are watering.
If you are looking for ways to start rebuilding fondness and admiration of your spouse, here a few suggestions. Start with a simple prayer of asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate new things to you about your spouse that are praiseworthy. Take time to write a daily gratitude list and consider the ways you saw your spouse act in a loving, kind, or inspirational way. Be creative and find ways to openly share your fondness and admiration with your spouse. Make it a goal to share one thing you appreciated or liked about them that day. Refrigerators can be a great place to put a dry erase board or paper and communicate back and forth. Use a writing prompt to give the opportunity for both you and your spouse to openly express fondness/admiration. Here are a few examples of prompts to get you started:
“today I am thankful that you _____“
“one of the things I love the most about you _____”
“I appreciate how you _______”
“I am proud of how you _______”
“you inspire me the most when _____”
Marriage is not easy and can be a place of great joy and deep pain. If you are finding it difficult to connect to your spouse, have experienced pain and/or disappointment in your marriage, or want to learn new ways to connect, Impact Counseling is here to help.
Carol Jackson, LPC