Diamonds are a girl’s best friend? And getting a shiny new car, wrapped in red ribbon on Christmas morning is perhaps the best present a spouse could get, right? If you ask most married folks, they would say the complete opposite. In fact, more husbands and wives are counting their marital blessings by adding up the little things their spouse does that are so unique and special. Leaving a good morning note, writing “I love you,” on an icy windshield and yes, even remembering to put the toilet seat down or not ‘borrow’ your husbands razors are some of the little things that count in a marriage.The pathetic truth is that these little things, often the result of coexisting with another person in one house are what make marriage easier and what keep some people together. After all, who really wants to train another man or women to NOT do all the silly things that bother them?
Big surprises and big steps to make a spouse feel special are obviously appreciated.Nonetheless, these larger acts of giving – both materialistically and emotionally – do not make up for the millions of minutes that two married people spend together. If selfishness or a general lack of mutual respect exists between two people – there is no one big thing that can undo the damage it causes. However, participating in the little things on a daily basis is an investment that takes two important things in life. Dedication and respect for others. When you listen to the things your spouse says and see through their feelings of indignation, resentment and hurt - realizing that you have the key to unlocking their happiness; you can make a monumental difference in how well the marriage works for the both of you.
Married people complain a lot. They complain that their wife no longer wants to have sex. They complain that their husband doesn’t help around the house and treats them like a maid. They reminisce about things that seem to come from another lifetime of being together. Like, ‘he always used to put gas in my car,’ or ‘she would always have a nice dinner ready for me when I got home.” In fact, the list is endless and most of it is caused by the feeling that your spouse (or you) just doesn’t care anymore. While life gets busy and sort of comfortable, like an old sofa that knows where your butt should land before you even plop down- marriage has to stay fresh. The minute it becomes stale, spouses feel neglected and start remembering all the things you used to do, that you don’t do anymore.
It is so easy to get caught up in the game of – if he or she won’t do it, than neither will I! This is actually a defense mechanism that married people use to save themselves from being hurt by their partner and to save the embarrassment of admitting that they need to be treated as if they are loved and special. Why is that embarrassing to admit? Because no husband or wife wants to come across as needy, clingy, high maintenance or demanding. No husband or wife wants to have to ASK for things that involve love, respect, and genuine care because they rely on the thinking “if they wanted to do it, they would – so obviously they don’t WANT TO!” Very passive aggressive and very damaging to your marriage. In the long run, marriage isn’t about who is winning or doing more for the other person – it is about making sure the slack in the line is always tight, regardless of who has to be the one tightening it. And the little things that count in a marriage are just the muscle you need to pull the line taut.
So, chances are you say you try. You might complement your husband or wife often. In fact, you might put lots of effort into doing little things so your spouse knows you care and to make them feel loved. You might even pull out the big guns every now and again and surprise them with something HUGE! But are you doing it because they asked you too or because you really mean it? Spouses are adept at knowing when their spouse is ‘pretending’ versus being genuine and all they really want, is for you to give what they know you can give – from past experience.
The little things that count in a marriage are different for every union. Perhaps the best way to get back to the basics is to start talking to each other about what these little things are. If your husband surprises you with a picnic lunch or your wife sends you the occasional sexy and explicit email – then make sure they know how much it meant to you. It is also important in a marriage to see that the little things change as your spouse gets to know you better. Certainly, they may have brought you flowers before and now only show up on a Friday night with a chicken sandwich and a coke float. However, perhaps that is because they know you HATE to cook, especially on Fridays and you love chicken sandwiches. See, even this could constitute as one of those little things that count in a marriage. Just as it is important to try and do nice things for your spouse, little things – you must also be able to recognize the things your spouse does to try and please you and only you!