The end of a marriage often results from many small annoyances that are repeated over and over and some that are simply ignored. In the same way, a marriage is greatly enhanced by small, loving acts of kindness and caring that are unexpected and never demanded. When both are committed to the relationship, keeping the spark alive comes from the caring and respect shown in small, unexpected actions that make us feel loved and appreciated. We have listed below some ideas from our book: Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
Both of us have a rule of never talking negatively about the other to anyone. When we are in groups and the conversation turns to spouse bashing, we stay silent or say something good about the other. This often causes enough discomfort in others to shift the conversation to a new topic.
We never open mail addressed specifically to the other, without permission. When I am at home and Rita receives an invitation or a report from a physical exam, I don’t open it unless she asks me to do so. She does the same for me.
Both of us are pretty good at suppressing our anger or disgust with a situation when we are with other people. We give each other the gift of relaxing and letting it all hang out when it is just the two of us. It is a relief to be able to vent when something isn’t going well or I am very annoyed with something I hear on the news. I can say things that I wouldn’t want anyone else to hear.
Sometimes we spend time with the other, even though we aren’t really interested. Rita goes with me to college department parties, although she hardly knows anyone there. She has even gone to the auto show with me. I sometimes go shopping with her, sit with her when she gets her nails done and give her time to shop for shoes.
When we eat out we sometimes have a single dessert for the two of us. Rita usually lets me have the last bite. Even when I tell her she can have it, she tells me she is finished so I will get that last bite.
I usually get the garbage and recycling ready to go out to the curb for pickup. Sometimes, when we have been housecleaning or are cleaning up from a project, she comes out to the garage to help me.
I am perfectly capable of ironing my own clothes, but often I am slow to get to it and Rita will iron my clothes for me.
As the kids were growing up, they often asked Rita to do an activity or buy something. She made them wait until I could be a part of the decision. The payoff for this came when our daughter got married. She and Rita went shopping for her wedding gown. When they found the dress, she insisted that I should be part of the decision. They called me from the bridal shop and waited until I got there to see her in it. She was stunning and I was overwhelmed to be included in the moment.
I like to be well dressed but I don’t get very excited about shopping for clothes for myself. Rita often goes shopping and purchases clothes for me. She brings them home and lets me look at and try them on. If I don’t like them or they don’t fit she takes them back.
When we were teaching together, Rita often stopped in my classroom between classes just to check in and see how my day was going.
I like all kinds of electronic gadgets. Rita sometimes buys me gifts of electronics that I wouldn’t buy for myself because I think they are too expensive. She kept telling me that I didn’t need another camera, then surprised me with a great digital camera for Christmas.
Since I don’t care much for cake, Rita sees to it that I get my favorite dessert, rhubarb pie, for my birthday.
I like tools! When I am working on a project around the house, she encourages me to buy a new tool that makes the job easier or allows me to produce a better result.
I listen to a variety of music, including quite a bit of jazz. Rita doesn’t care much for jazz, but when we travel she will include a little jazz to play in the car, because she knows I like it.
Among the little things we do for each other, some require more time and effort than others. To illustrate the point, one of the things Bob did for me was to teach me to drive. After we had been married a few years, Bob found it more and more difficult to juggle his schedule to get me everywhere I needed to be so we decided it was time I learn to drive. He took the time and showed great patience as he taught me to drive. I trusted him and listened to everything he said. In fact, I listened so well to what he said and not exactly what the law said and failed the driver’s test the first time I took it. But he took me back the second time and I got my license.
He is never very comfortable being anywhere but in the drivers seat, so for years when we traveled, he would instantly go to sleep when I drove. As the years have passed and as he has become comfortable with my driving, he no longer sleeps as often. Instead we talk and listen to music the same way we do when he drives. Being able to drive has definitely added to the quality of my life. Interestingly enough, I did most of the practice driving with our children. In my mind, it is a clear demonstration of his love for and trust in me.
Bob loves gadgets, electronics and technology. He is fascinated by how they work and what he can do with them. I just want things to do for me what they are designed to do. I consider it a great honor and act of love when he deals with me and computers. Most people would describe me as being patient. For whatever reason, computers try my patience. I have been known to become irrational. While I know at some of those times Bob has wanted to say or do something to affirm my stupidity, he stops what he’s doing and comes to my rescue. On occasion, when I was teaching he sent me to bed assuring me that he would fix it. When I got up in the morning, I found all the papers I needed for that day on my briefcase.
While the previous two examples might be “bigger” little things, there have been numerous little things that Bob has done or continues to do for me that let me know that I am special in his life.
As part of a kitchen updating, we got new kitchen furniture and agreed that it was time to purchase dishes and glassware that matched and weren’t plastic. When I came home the day the furniture was delivered, the table was set with all the new items complete with placemats, napkins and candles.
I operate under the assumption that a person can’t have too many friends or shoes. I like having shoes for every occasion. He indulges my need to have just one extra pair when we travel by offering to put a pair in his suitcase if necessary. When we installed a closet system, he took special care to make sure there was ample and designated space for all my shoes, even adding another shelf later. When we are out on one of our shopping adventures, he gives me ample time to browse the shoe stores and willingly makes an extra trip to the car if I’ve bought several pairs.
While he is a “gadget freak” and dreams about the next electronic toy he can have, I was the first to have a cell phone and a laptop computer. He wanted me to be safe when I traveled alone at night and made my life easier when I was doing things for my classes.
From the time I was a little girl I liked wearing simple jewelry. He has bought me jewelry many times through the years. Some of the jewelry has been expensive like the various gemstones I have. Others have been fun and thoughtful such as the Christmas he gave me a watch and ring to wear every day of the week. When I left for work much earlier than he, he sat up in bed to help me put on a necklace or bracelet because I couldn’t work the clasp.
After many years of dreaming for a certain luxury car, Bob was able to purchase that car for himself. I never thought there was any difference in how cars drove. I used to say, “Just get me a roller skate with an engine.” When we took his new car on a vacation trip I learned it did drive differently on interstate highways. A few years later, after he had finished a major consulting job, he bought a duplicate of that luxury car, for me.
I don’t like the way certain things feel. While fingernails on a chalkboard don’t bother me, pulling cotton out of a medicine bottle or touching a peach gives me the creeps. So he pulls the cotton out of bottles and peels peaches for me so I can enjoy them.
Bob always puts me first in front of others. He has a habit of kissing me first if we’ve been apart – before he greets others. When the kids were little, they’d hang off his legs as he made his way to greet me first. Then he would pick them up and give each of them kisses and hugs.
Click here for additional ideas: 8 Little Things That Make a Big Difference in your Marriage.
We hope you found some good ideas here. Please leave a comment below.
If you enjoyed this post, find more great marriage ideas in our book: Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime, available at Amazon.com. Also available for Kindle and Nook.