“I cannot do great things, but I can do small things with great love.”—Mother Teresa
Every happy marriage owes its success, in no small part, to little everyday acts of love. Most of them are random. Many have become rituals. But no matter how trivial, they are performed with such love and consideration that they act like bonding glue that fills in the nooks and crannies of the marital relationship.
Over the years, married partners can take each other for granted. They grow so comfortable in each other’s company that they forget to extend the courtesies that make living together pleasant. People offer more random acts of kindness and courtesy for strangers than for the person they love the most. But often, the health of a marriage can be gauged by the frequency of these small acts of love because they come straight from the heart without any obligatory incentive like a birthday or anniversary event.
Surprisingly, more men perform these everyday acts of love than women do. When surveyed, men believe that they show their love best through everyday behavior while women tend to perform and expect grander shows of affection like the perfectly selected present. A wise wife recognizes and acknowledges her husband's efforts to express love in his own way.
“Forget the flowers and love notes,” said Cammy, a wife of 15 years. “I feel loved every Saturday when he washes my car and fills the tank for the week. At the first sign of car trouble, he’s on it because he doesn’t want me to break down on the road. It isn’t glamorous but it is genuine caring.”
Julia’s husband always sets up the automatic coffeemaker the night before, and the next morning he doctors up her cup with just the right amount of hazelnut cream and sugar, tasting it to be sure he got it right. She doesn’t expect it, but he knows she usually runs late so his little act makes her morning dash a little easier.
Whenever I had a particularly tough day that involved a lot of rushing around in pointy high heels, my husband would sit me on the sofa, pull off my shoes and rub my aching feet. I would nearly cry from the exquisite relief! And turnabout is fair play: When he has a rough day, I run a hot bath and give him a good old-fashioned scrubbing, complete with a shampoo. There is something tender and loving when you physically take care of each other. Sure he is capable of taking care of his own hygiene, but that’s not the point.
Here are some ideas of everyday acts of love you can perform to show your husband how much he means to you:
-If there is something he really does not like to do (take out the trash, walk the dog) do it for him or hire someone to do it.
-Instead of nagging him to take his vitamins or medication, measure it out and set it on the kitchen counter next to a glass of water or juice.
-When he wants to watch football, whip up some yummy snacks and cheer on his team.
-If you don’t like sports, go out with some friends while you leave him to enjoy his afternoon with his pals and plenty of refreshments.
-Get his car washed when he sleeps in on Saturday. Surprise!
-Left his socks on the floor again? Just pick them up. No complaints.
-Rent a movie you know he’ll love. Save the chick flicks for you and your friends.
There are plenty of wives who refuse to “baby” their husbands. “He is capable.” “I’m busy, too.” “I don’t want to start a bad habit of him expecting me to do things for him.” “I’ve done things for him and he never noticed so why should I continue to be a doormat?” “What about me?”
Do you hear the selfishness in the comments above? In a healthy marriage, both spouses enjoy making each other happy. They do everything in their power to make each other happy. Sometimes, it’s all too easy to forget that we’re here to help each other find fulfillment and joy along this life journey. And we demand our rights before performing our responsibilities.
I encourage you to set love-limiting thoughts aside and offer your love in small, everyday acts of kindness without any expectation of return. But be forewarned: love sent forth always returns back to you.
Love begets love. And that’s the simple truth of it.