The Habits of Love

newlywed couple
I know. You didn’t ask for my advice. And yes, I know this isn’t an advice column. But sometimes I feel an overwhelming desire to dispense a little free counsel. Just think of me like your Aunt Gladys, the one who corners you in the hallway every holiday to tell you what to do with your life, your career, and your fond affection for carbs. Let’s go to the hallway and talk about marriage.

Marriage is about habits. I know. Doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? When’s the last time you saw a Hallmark movie called, “The Habit of Being Nice to You”? Or what about a romance book called, “Habitual Respect and Admiration”? I doubt the Oscar-winning romantic/comedy this year will be called, “I Took Out the Trash in Love.” Yeah. Not much heat to those titles, huh? I beg to differ. Habits actually produce a lot of heat and passion. Over time. The kind of heat and passion that fuels a lifetime of love.

When we counsel young married couples, our advice is pretty simple.

1. Stop thinking about yourself. Do you get your feelings hurt too easily? There’s a pretty simple solution to that. Stop thinking about your feelings so much. Think about the other person’s feelings instead. It’s revolutionary. Get in the habit of waking up in the morning and thinking about your partner instead of yourself. It saves a lot of marital conflict. Your life will be a lot more joyful too. This counsel goes against the grain of our 2014 narcissistic thinking. Make note. Narcissism is death to love.

2. Use kind words. Do you scream at your best friend or your grandma? Do you call them rude names? I hope not. Your spouse should receive way more respect and kindness than your best friend or even your grandma. Oh, and guess what? You can have a thought without that thought coming out your mouth. It’s called respect. And maturity. And restraint. It’s called love.

3. Get physical. A lot. Hug. Smooch. Put your arms around each other several times a day. Sit close to each other. Hold hands. I get that some people are not as physically affectionate as others. But again, welcome to the world of “Life is not about you.” Or about me. When it comes to a healthy marriage, life is about US. Oh, and if you want a great marriage, physical “intimacy” is very important. Very very important. Did I use the word “very” ‘cause if I didn’t, I really meant to.

I get that marriage is harder for some people than others. I do. I get that. But whether you and your spouse have a natural and easy affection for each other, or whether it’s a daily struggle, habits can still make or break you. So, if you’re in a bad place right now, decide to start over. Decide to invest. Ask forgiveness. Speak kindly. Get physical. Get in the habit. The habit of choosing love.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jeanae jensen
    Sep 05, 2014 @ 12:25:27

    Thank you Aunt Gladys! You are so right. Too many times we take for granted that the person we love is going to forgive us and love us any way. So we start to take things for granted. We take for granted that he will understand that we are tired, stressed, etc. We take for granted that the other person knows I don’t mean what I said when I snapped at him. But you know what, we just can’t take that for granted. It took some very hard and difficult experiences for me before I understood that my relationship with my husband should be treated with as much politeness, kindness, tenderness as I would treat my elderly parents, or a newborn baby. I love all your advice. Thank you. P.S. I always wanted an Aunt Gladys.


  2. Daryl Byford
    Oct 01, 2014 @ 23:17:23

    Lovely article. Every word the truth. We have been Married 51 years.


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