The longer I’ve been married, the more I’ve witnessed that loving well takes hard work. There have been many times my husband Adam and I have failed to love as best we can, and in those moments we must make the decision to get back up, dust ourselves off, and hit the reset button.
In my relationship so often this “begin again” mentality, this knowledge that there’s a fresh new day to try loving my spouse the best I can, comes after an argument, a miscommunication, or just a busy week that sees the two of us running in opposite directions.
That’s why I was surprised and a little hurt last month when my husband confided that he felt let down by the previous two days of our relationship (my failed attempt at date planning may have been one of the issues). I pointed out all the great interactions we’d had during the past week, all the playful exchanges, the deep and meaningful conversations, and the quality time with the kids.
He agreed with all of my “findings,” yet somehow he felt things felt a little flat. As we chatted, we discovered the root of our problem: We’d been loving each other well, so well we’d put our relationship on cruise control. We thought things were so good so we didn’t have to do anything to keep them there or make them better. Turns out we were wrong.
Without really realizing it, I stopped putting effort into actively finding ways to love him better, letting the day carry me along until it was time to hit the pillow at night. No back rubs, extra kisses, or playful glances. What for? He knew how much I loved him, so I didn’t need to work hard to prove it.
We discussed the rut we were in and how we could find ways to really knock the whole loving thing out of the park again. So now we’re taking each new day as an opportunity to do our best at loving each other.
One of our favorite, most practical ways of doing this is to just ask: How can I love you well today? What do you need from me? Often the answers are surprising. I think that in our culture today people expect for love to be love, it needs to be showy, fancy, grand. But the more we ask each other this question, the more I find that love is found in a small act of service, a whispered “I love you,” and all the small sacrifices done for the other throughout the day.
Whatever it is, taking the time to figure out how my beloved most wants to be loved each and every day allows him to see how much I want to love him well, even though at times I may fail. It also helps me put our relationship first, by prioritizing his needs over other things I need to get done. It may seem simple, but it can have powerful results. We become more in tune with each other, and it’s a great way to communicate what is currently stressing us out or has us worried. Also, loving Adam the way he wants to be loved allows him to better recognize that just my desire to love him well is a way of showing love itself.
Yes, each new day is an opportunity to recover from our mistakes and to resolve to try harder. Every morning brings forth a day full of hope and opportunity to love better than the day before.