It may not have been obvious, but Friday's His and Hers question came almost straight out of the curriculum for the marriage class that Mrs. Happy and I have been attending at church. Last Wednesday, we were supposed to "list 10 small, specific, positive, caring actions that your spouse could do that would make a difference in your marriage." We didn't do it until Friday because we really didn't need to do it at all. The workbook tells us to "Every day, 5 days a week, for 6 weeks, do one of the small actions from your spouse's list." The author says that this step will breathe new life into any relationship, that it will turn every marriage around. The problem is, we already have the happiest marriage in the world. What is there to improve? We love each other and do nice things for each other every day. We laugh in the faces of anyone who dares suggest ways to enrich our already extravagantly wealthy relationship! Had we been able to come up with any other topic for His and Hers, we probably never would have made the lists at all. Why would we?
I thank God that we did. Wednesday's lesson told us that six weeks of spouses doing specific nice things for each other would bring about a dramatic improvement. For us, three days of it has dramatically improved things. There was nothing really wrong on Friday, but by Sunday evening, we had sort of rediscovered how much fun we can have by making an effort to be good to each other. The list helped by bringing our loving actions to the forefront of our consciousness. Sometimes I just sing her a song because I have one on my mind and I'm comfortable singing to her, and she enjoys it. But now when I do that, I know it's not an offhand thing—I know it's something she wants, and she knows I'm doing it to say "I love you."
And oddly enough, it's not the things she does for me that make me love her more—it's the things I do for her. I wrote on Thursday that actions define feelings. I have long known that to be true, but it still surprises me. Love is what you do more than what you feel. Love is the sacrifice of yourself for another person. I love my wife more, and I feel love more, when I'm serving her than I do when she's serving me.
If you're married, I strongly encourage you and your spouse to make your own list. Remember, the actions listed need to be:
- small: things you can do without a lot of planning ahead
- specific: generalities such as "appreciate me more" don't help your spouse know what to do for you
- positive: an item such as "stop leaving your socks on the floor" doesn't really give your spouse something to do
- caring: nothing cruel or falsely positive like "take me on a date once a week the way you said you would when we got married but haven't done since the honeymoon"