When did you fall in love with your spouse?
Some people will say the moment I first saw him/her or the first time we kissed. But for most people, it doesn’t happen that way. For most people, falling in love is something that happens over time. It’s not a one time event.
I fell in love with my ex because he knew I like chocolate and would bring me some for no particular reason at all. I fell in love because he listened when I had a bad day without saying one word about his day. I fell in love because he’d call me at lunchtime just to hear my voice. I fell in love because he made me feel like the most important person in his world.
And I fell out of love for the same reason.
Because at some point, he quit bringing me chocolate. Instead, he was suddenly concerned about my health and said I didn’t need it. At some point, he started tuning out when I wanted to talk about my day but expected me to listen to his. At some point, he stopped calling unless he needed something.
At some point, everything and everyone else was more important than I was.
None of it happened overnight. It was a slow, steady progression of not caring.
It’s rarely the knock down, drag out fights that ruin a relationship.
It’s consistently devaluing your spouse over time. It’s consistently choosing other people or activities over them. It’s consistently choosing yourself over them. It’s screaming with your actions You don’t matter! even if your words insist that they do.
Consider it for a minute.
Let’s say that one of those little things that bugs your wife is that you don’t put your dirty clothes in the hamper. You toss them in that general direction and they end up in a pile right in front of the hamper, but they don’t end up inside it.
Close enough, right? You don’t see what the big deal is, and the fact that she’s constantly harping about it makes you want to do it even less. In fact, you’re tempted to leave your clothes right where you took them off. See how she likes that.
What do you think this says to your wife?
It says she is not worth that little bit of effort it would take to actually walk to the hamper, open it, and drop the clothes in. It says that you expect her to pick up after you. It says that you don’t care if she’s bothered by a messy pile of dirty clothes in the corner of what is also her bedroom. It says that your convenience is so important that it’s OK to create extra work for her.
It says that she doesn’t matter.
And when you think about it, isn’t that how you feel about the things she does that bug you? It’s not really the thing. It’s the fact that she won’t put forth that tiny bit of effort to keep from annoying you. It feels like she’s being selfish, right?
It feels like she doesn’t care.
So if you want your relationship to last, you need to be consistent in the right things.
Consistently put her first. Consistently let her know that she’s the most important person in your life.
Choose to be with her. Not 100% of the time – it’s OK to hang with your friends or occasionally pursue an activity she’s not interested in – but more often than not. Don’t make her think you don’t want to spend time with her.
Bring her the coffee or the chocolate or whatever else she likes, just because she likes it.
Talk to her. Let her tell you about her day. Listen to her dreams and her joys and her fears.
Treat her like an adult. If there’s a problem, be honest with her and talk it out. Don’t make her guess why you’re angry or resort to passive-aggressive behavior.
And maybe get really radical and put your clothes in the hamper.
You can kill your relationship, or you can make it last forever.
It’s all in the choices you make consistently.
What will you choose to do today to improve your relationship?
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