Written by Tessa Torgeson in Collaboration with Clarity Counseling
Continuing with our theme of love for February, this week we are focusing on marriage. Marriage is both a delight and a challenge. It is a delight because of the joy of sharing companionship, interests, love, hopes, and dreams with your spouse. Yet, marriage is also a challenge because it is sometimes difficult to get both people’s needs met.
It is a challenge to nurture your commitment to your spouse amidst other important parts of your life such as a career, children, friends, and passions. However, nurturing a loving, healthy marriage is possible with compassion, diligence, and a firm commitment to keeping your marriage a priority.
Loving, healthy marriages thrive when a couple makes time for each other. Set a date night and find a babysitter if you have children. If you have the financial means, definitely make it a priority to take a weekend getaway or weeklong vacation once a year away your other obligations and responsibilities. Dates and trips are an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company, relax, and be intimate together. They can be a valuable time to refresh and reignite your love for one another away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Although dates and vacations are a vital part of a marriage, they are special and rare moments. Daily life can be more stressful, unpredictable, and sometimes mundane. You might feel taken for granted by your spouse or not be sure how to show affection and compassion on a daily basis. Often this is due to a lack of understanding about what makes your spouse feel loved and miscommunications about what help the marriage thrive.
This is because each of us has a specific “love language” that makes us feel loved, cared for, and understood. In the Five Languages of Love, author Gary Chapman encourages spouses to know each other’ s love language and to learn to speak it because it can create harmony in a marriage.
According to Chapman, the five love languages are: acts of service, touch, words of affirmation, quality time, and gifts. It is important to observe how you express love to your spouse and how your spouse shows love to you. Signs of your partner’s love language are revealed through your spouse’s complaints and areas that you feel need work in the marriage.
Let’s say your spouse’s love language is quality time. He or she then values doing an activity together that involves giving each other complete, undivided attention. If you are constantly checking your phone while on dates together, watching TV, or on your I-pad during dinner, your spouse might feel hurt that those things are taking priority over time spent together. Try to be fully present when spending time together at meal times, for example, and do activities you enjoy as a couple, since this is important to your spouse.
If your love language differs from your spouse, you might not necessarily recognize or appreciate the ways that he or she shows love and vice versa. That’s why it’s important to know each other’s language and to speak it. You can know you love each other, but to feel that love, you need to speak each other’s love language.
Above all, the key is to learn to compromise and meet each other halfway, creating realistic, healthy expectations for each other.
Trish and Marty Tallakson at Clarity Counseling can help you nurture a healthy marriage.
Recommended Reading: The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman