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Ethics & Religion
Column #2,009
February 12, 2020
Love Your Spouse
By Mike McManus

This Valentine's Week is a perfect time to consider how to better love your spouse. Usually, Valentine's Day is just a dinner date or a dozen roses.

How can you improve the quality of your marriage? "Love your neighbor as yourself," as Mark 12:31 puts it. Who is our closest neighbor who most deserves our love? Our wife or husband, of course.

Dr. Willard Harley, author of His Needs, Her Needs, urges us to "fill up your partner's emotional bank account."

The first essential step is to do a better job listening to her or him. People like to be heard and understood. That is more important quality in a marriage. Be a good listener!

Listen to your mate without interruption. Focus on what they are saying, not how you will reply. Good communication is not speaking but listening.

We are quick to find fault and to complain but slow to compliment. When we criticize, it takes nine compliments to restore a healthy balance. What's required is "marriage maintenance," as we maintain our bodies or our yards.

When you speak, you are only reporting what you know. When you listen, you may learn something. Listening is a skill that can be learned.

One way to do a better job listening is to have a regular Date Night. Have fun together!

Early in our marriage, I was married to my career, and Harriet was married to the children who consumed large amounts of time. Now we have more time together - more time to truly listen to one another.

We must also be more creative about how we express our love for one another. Take your spouse on a Marriage Encounter, a weekend retreat that has revitalized a million marriages, including our own. (To learn when the next Marriage Encounter will be held near you, call 909 332-7309.)

Three Lead Couples share stories of their marriage, and then ask couples to write a "Love Letter" to each other on the theme of their talk.

Clearly, however, husbands and wives could write a Love Letter to each other without going to Marriage Encounter. When was the last time you wrote a Love Letter to your mate? Never? Twenty years ago? Why not do so tonight?

Love is a four letter word spelled T-I-M-E.

Married people do not spend enough TIME on their relationships. I'm thinking of a couple, Betty and Robert, who were separated. She lived in their house, taking care of their two children, and he lived in a trailer outside.

However, they heard about an organization named PAIRS which created a "Daily Temperature Reading" (DTR) with five elements:

  1. "APPRECIATIONS: Relationships have the best chance of thriving when partners look for what's right in each other and regularly acknowledge what's good. Express appreciation for positive behaviors and action you experienced from your partner. Giving and accepting appreciation is a heartwarming gift for both the giver and receiver.
  2. "NEW INFORMATION: What's happening in your life? At home, work, church, in the neighborhood or community? Many problems and misunderstandings arise when partners don't keep each other up to date. Learning to share new information easily and naturally elps keep each other informed and shows we're important to one another."
  3. "PUZZLES: Assumptions are the breeding ground of many relationship misunderstandings and problems. When there's something you are wondering about, ask the question! You may not always get an answer, but voicing your puzzles will help you and others understand your own internal thoughts and dialogue."
  4. "COMPLAINTS with REQUEST FOR CHANGE: Differences and disagreements are a natural part of relationships. Dealing with concerns is a positive way on behalf of the relationship helps everyone win! Keep the topic limited to a small problem, and remember you're making a request, not a demand."
  5. WISHES, HOPES, DREAMS: Our vision and goals for the future - near or far, mundane or grand - are integral, vital parts of who we are. Talking aloud about wishes or hopes for our lives gives us the chance to reflect on what we want and may contribute to helping dreams come true."

Betty and Robert used theirs PAIRS Daily Temperature Readings, and rebuilt their marriage.

You can do so as well!


Copyright (c) 2019 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to www.ethicsandreligion.comm. Hit Search for any topic.


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