Have you lost that loving feeling for your spouse?
It happens. After several years of marriage, several issues that don’t get resolved, and several thousand distractions that compete for your full attention and vigor, you can wake up one morning and find that the zeal you once had for each other has fizzled out.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get back that loving feeling for each other by being deliberate and intentional in your marriage and practicing some simple acts of love.
Here are 10 ways to renew the zeal you once felt for your spouse.
1. Remember what drew you to your spouse.
Do you remember what it was about your spouse that caught your eye or stole your heart? Was it her smile or her laugh or the tender way she looked at you when you talked? Was it his voice, the way he could tell a joke, or his ability to silently work through a problem?
Look for the strengths you once saw and the positives you once praised in your spouse, instead of focusing on the ways he or she has disappointed you or fallen short of your expectations. Once you remember what drew you to each other, you can trace that admiration for your spouse back to your heart where those feelings first developed.
2. Re-invest in each other.
It could be that you and your spouse have fallen out of love and lost your zeal for one another because you haven’t invested much time in one another. Perhaps the busyness of life has your heart focused more on a project at work than the one you wanted to share life with.
Matt. 22:39 tells us the second greatest commandment (next to loving God with all our heart, soul and mind) is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Your closest “neighbor” is the one you sleep alongside and share a home with. Are you loving your spouse like you love yourself?
Reinvest in your spouse by attending a marriage conference together or reading a book about your spouse’s personality type so you can understand him or her better. Invest in the relationship by praying for each other daily. Do tangible things that show your spouse you are still invested in the marriage. It’s possible your spouse is waiting to see if he or she is still priority in your heart and everyday life.
3. Refocus on intimacy.
A lack of physical intimacy in your marriage can result in a lack of emotional intimacy and vice versa. Can you be the one who makes the first move in restoring emotional and physical intimacy to your marriage? By being deliberate in bringing back some romance to your marriage you are telling your spouse “I miss you. I miss the way it used to be with you. And I want to experience that once again with you and only you.”
Instead of waiting for your spouse to initiate intimacy, plan a romantic getaway together and YOU bring the romance. Sometimes all it takes is one of you making the first move.
4. Recommit to one another.
Sometimes you have to tell yourself what to feel again. Tell yourself who you are committed to. And tell yourself you are determined to get back what the two of you once had. Then, tell your spouse, too. Take the initiative. When he or she sees that you want to get back to the way things were, chances are your spouse will concur and join you in the effort.
One way to recommit to your spouse is to simply write a note, or several notes, reiterating each of your wedding vows. Try writing on a post-it note “I would still say I do all over again” or giving your spouse a sentimental card with a coupon in it that promises a day together doing anything your spouse would like to do. Investigate what it would take to have a “vow renewal” ceremony with just the two of you or at home or someplace special with just close family and friends.
Find creative ways to be deliberate and intentional in letting your spouse know you are just as committed to your marriage today as you were the day you two exchanged vows.
5. Reach out and touch.
When you reach for your spouse’s hand you are saying “I want to be near you” and “I want others to know I am with you.” You probably once held hands at every opportunity just because you wanted to be closer to one another. Initiate that message once again through affirming words and gentle touch.
Studies show that couples who practice the simple discipline of daily affectionate touch experience more happiness and stability than those who don’t. Don’t be a statistic. Reach out and touch your spouse. Every. Single. Day.
6. Revisit fun.
When was the last time you laughed with your spouse? I mean a big, long belly laugh! Chances are the sparks began to fly between the two of you when you realized you had fun with one another. Think about the fun things the two of you enjoyed when you were younger – back when you had that zeal for one another – and create opportunities to revisit those activities.
Start studying what makes your spouse laugh. Is it a good stage comedy or a movie in the theater? Getting together with high school friends? Participating in a certain activity? How can you arrange that and be a part of it to share that fun with your spouse?
7. Rediscover your “us.”
A marriage and family counselor in my church shared with me that she and her husband are rediscovering each other now that their youngest child has left home and it’s just the two of them again. After persevering through some difficult seasons, they are stronger than they’ve ever been, are more connected, and have a deeper understanding and appreciation of one another. She said that is all because they have discovered their new “us.”
“Our ‘us’ is neither completely like me nor my husband, but it is this third species that seeks the best for the purpose of the marriage. It is a new creation, much like a child, that has its own unique purpose and shared interest for the sake of pleasing the Lord. For example, I love to attend musicals and the theatre, but my husband loves to attend professional baseball games. But our new ‘us’ loves to go hiking and mountain-biking We value ‘us’ more than we value our individual likes or hobbies.”
Seek the growth of your marriage over your individual interests by asking “what can we do together?” and you will discover your “us.”
8. Remember to flirt.
Every couple flirted together at one point in their courtship. Bring it back. Say the things that used to make her blush. Try the things that used to get his motor running. Invest in some intimate apparel or put on that tight t-shirt your spouse loved seeing you in and talk like you used to when you were young and in love (outside the earshot of your parents or the kids, of course.)
You can even get some help from the Song of Songs in the Bible and use a line of King Solomon’s to his Shulamite bride:
“The sweet, fragrant curves of your body,
the soft, spiced contours of your flesh
Invite me, and I come. I stay
until dawn breathes its light and night slips away.
You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love,
beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless.
You’ve captured my heart, dear friend.
You looked at me, and I fell in love,
One look my way and I was hopelessly in love!” (Song of Songs 4:6-7, 9, MSG)
9. Recognize and celebrate your differences.
Admit it. You loved the ways your spouse was different from you when the two of you married. You saw it as God’s or nature’s way of balancing the two of you and making you feel complete when you were together. Yet, as we age, we tend to resent the differences in our spouses and find ourselves saying “I wish he/she were more like me.”
Reject that selfish thought and celebrate the ways your spouse is different than you. Those opposite viewpoints, behaviors and personality traits that now grate on your nerves at one time thrilled you, so appreciate them once again. If it helps, keep in mind that you, too, are different from your spouse and may possess a whole list of things that are irritating to your mate, as well. Celebrate your spouse’s differences by mentioning to your spouse how much you appreciate the way he or she is different from you. There’s a good chance your spouse has forgotten the way you used to feel toward him or her, so say it. And celebrate it.
10. Return to a “newlywed” mentality.
None of us are the same people we were the day we said “I do.” We’ve all been weathered and worn down by the storms in life, affected by aging, and heart-hardened since the day we promised to love “til death do us part.” But hopefully all we’ve been through has made us wiser and more like Christ in the process.
Ask God to help you see your spouse the way you once did and the way God always has. Pray for the ability to love not only who your spouse really is, but who he or she is becoming, by God’s grace. You would like the same from your spouse, so love by example.
I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to remember the ways I have fallen short of my husband’s expectations and then extend that same grace toward him. Do I want him to see the best in me? To treat me the way he did when we were first married? Do I want him to focus on my strengths, rather than my weaknesses and the ways I’ve disappointed him? Yes! Then I should lovingly do the same for him.
Story credit to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit to Stock Photos.