Recently I’ve been reading books about strengthening marriages.
As a counselor, I see clients for individual and couples therapy, and it is refreshing to read about how others work with couples. I enjoy combining their wisdom with my own therapeutic techniques.
Last week I finished Heidi Poleman’s The 2 Minute Marriage Project (which was incredible) and Harville Hendrix’ Getting the Love You Want, which I am still reading.
Both authors hint at the importance of service in a relationship. Day-to-day helpful actions nurture love in a marriage. Currently, I am working with some couples that struggle to serve each other. Their conversations, at times, seem selfish because of the lack of compassion and service rendered to each other. No wonder each spouse feels lonely and unappreciated. If service in a relationship breeds feelings of love, respect, and consideration, a relationship in which both individuals act selfishly can seem cold and barren.
Heidi Poleman writes,
In marriage, love is more than a feeling. Love is a verb. One isolated act of love here or there probably won’t do much. Many small acts every day over time will keep you connected.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning to an empty dishwasher. A small thing, but I love when Johnny does that to surprise me! He knows that the sink will fill with dishes throughout the day, and he knows that I love a clean kitchen, so he makes it easy for me to keep the house in order.
In a previous job, Johnny wore dress slacks and a button down shirt to work each day. One day I surprised him by ironing every single dress shirt in his closet. Normally, Johnny ironed his shirt each morning. Even though I dislike the monotony of ironing, I felt joy as I worked to surprise him.
Loving acts can be as simple as leaving your spouse the last cookie, picking up a pint of his favorite ice cream, or filling her car with gas when you know tomorrow’s schedule will begin early.
Simple acts of service communicate clearly “Your happiness is my happiness.”
To promote acts of service in relationships, I decided to spread a hashtag. Social media is woven into the fibers of our society, and sometimes social media “peer pressure” can be a healthy motivator. I thought it would be helpful to spread a hashtag that encourages spouses to serve each other. Johnny and I brainstormed what to use, and we thought #servingmyspouse best summed up these ideas.
“Serving” implies action and continued effort, rather than a one-time event.
Some ideas include:
Snap a selfie of his car that you just cleaned as a surprise.
Post on your timeline about how you offered to put the kids to bed so she could go shopping.
Tweet about the breakfast you surprised him with before his big interview at work.
Show off the poem you wrote her for her birthday.
I hope that #servingmyspouse inspires more couples to work for each others’ happiness. The little things, whether routine or surprise, build a firm foundation in marriage. Little acts of service build trust and appreciation. Both individuals learn to work together as a team, and their prize is love at home.