How many people do you know that enjoyed a wonderful relationship for a period of time and then things fell apart? Maybe that’s you. In fact, you may be wondering if the relationship you are in right now will go the distance. I’m here to tell you how long a relationship lasts is not a mystery. Relationships are built in moments, not years.
I married my amazing wife nearly 25 years ago. Our relationship is crazy happy and we love spending time together. Our happiness comes from what we do throughout the day — every day. Perhaps our experience can help you live in daily love just like us.
Here are moments to look for (or create) to make sure your relationship lasts.
Moments of Joyful Service
Earlier this evening, my wife was working on dinner. When I said, “Thank you for cooking dinner,” she turned and replied with a smile, “Thank YOU for cooking dinner.” You see, we were making dinner together. I wanted to show my appreciation for her effort. Neither of us especially enjoys cooking. However, we are happy to cook for the other. We do this mundane task with joy. Why? Because the task must be done anyway. Doing it as a joyful service keeps out the poison of resentment. Completing a task in this manner gives it special meaning. Look at it like, I’m not just making dinner, I’m making dinner for the one I love. Look for moments to serve with joy.
Moments Filled with Words of Endearment
I almost never call my wife by her given name. I use terms such as “my love”, “pretty girl”, and “love of my life”. Such terms remind her of how much I care for her, but more importantly they are a reminder for me. It’s hard to be upset with someone you call “my love” multiple times a day. Every time I call her by those terms of endearment it burrows into my subconscious, constantly reinforcing the bond between us.
A note to the opposition, referring to your spouse as “the old ball and chain” or “my old lady” has a reinforcing negative effect in your subconscious and is an insult to her. Always refer to your loved one in a positive manner. Use your speech to create moments filled with words of endearment.
Moments of Compliments
What do your friends think of your loved one? Their opinions of your special person come from two places: interactions your friends have with him or her, and what you say about your loved one. When I am speaking speaking with someone and the topic of marriage comes up I am unfailingly complimentary to my wife. Don’t put me on a pedestal here. I just know how blessed I am to be married to her – and I want it to stay that way. Telling her in person is great, but if she hears it from a third party then it is even more powerful.
How many times have you heard someone complain about their spouse? I’ll bet you quickly decided either the speaker was a jerk or they had married a terrible person. Now, what do you think when someone praises their spouse… when the spouse is not even around? Or better yet, in a situation where their spouse is likely to never to know about it? I speak in front of a lot of groups, often about relationships. My wife isn’t in the audience, but I talk her up anyway. Like the previous point, complimenting her whether she is around or not reminds me just how special and precious she is to me. Be careful to frequently create moments of compliments.
Moments of Love
I realize this one seems obvious, but stay with me here. One thing we learned very early in our marriage is that not everyone feels love in the same way. In his wonderful book The Five Love Languages, Dr. Gary Chapman reveals the curious truth that most of us are showing love incorrectly to our spouses and loved ones. He likens it to one person speaking English while the other only understands Chinese.
One of the greatest challenges to making a relationship last is discovering and learning to love each other in a way that is understood. My wife’s love languages are quality time and physical touch. Do you know what I do? I spend time every day sitting down and talking with her. When we walk together I reach out and take her hand. I consciously love her in the ways that make her feel loved.
I can’t recommend Dr. Chapman’s book enough. We’ve repeatedly taught classes based on his principles. Take the time to find out what makes your loved one feel love, then spend every day using what you have learned. Create moments of love for each other.
There are no secrets to making a relationship last. It is simple, but not necessarily easy. The simplicity is in making moments every day that show service, endearment, compliments, and powerful love to another person. The challenge is to be consistent, but you can do it!
Let love be your motivator.