I (Steve) want to be transparent here. Earlier in our marriage I didn’t place a high enough value on Cindy. This is in terms of how I demonstrated my love for her. Many of my actions (behind closed doors) could have easily been interpreted as, “I cared very little for Cindy.” At that time I would have disagreed and would have been defensive if someone would have called me out on it. But now I have perspective and clarity thanks to God showing me the error of my ways.
Do You Value Your Spouse?
In his book, Marital Intelligence Gil Stieglitz says there are three types of marriages. This is in relationship to how we value each other. First, is the marriage where both the husband and wife value each other with praise, attention and celebration of each other’s strengths and victories. Second, there are marriages that are value neutral. There is little or no open conflict. But at the same time there’s no focus on encouragement or notice of strengths or victories. He says these kinds of marriages are closer to an affair than they realize.
The third kind of marriage is where a couple focuses on mistakes, shortcomings and weaknesses. These marriages exist as two opposing sides, “Who is right?” Plus they focus on, “When will you admit you were wrong?” These marriages are heading to some form of divorce: emotional, mental, physical, or actual.
For a while Cindy and I were stuck in #3. But we intentionally stopped focusing on our shortcomings, mistakes and weaknesses. This took a lot of time to develop and put into practice. If you find yourselves stuck in the second or third styles you can definitely change. (We did, so can you.) Here are some insights for how to break any old negative patterns and start to demonstrate real value for each other. They come from couples therapist, Zach Brittle from a post called “5 Secrets to a Happier (and Stronger!) Marriage.” He shares what he learned from his own marriage:
Breaking Negative Patterns:
“If marriage is a journey, then it’s important that you’re oriented in the right direction. It’s way easier to make small efforts as you go than a major course correction when it may be too late. Small changes made early and often can create big changes over time. Prioritize practical expressions of kindness daily. It’ll help you remember that you like each other.
“The good news is that you can start anywhere. Anytime. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. But there’s no reason it shouldn’t be today. Try a small act of kindness. Maybe it’s a surprise gift. Maybe you just say, ‘thank you.’ Research has revealed that even the simplest gesture can initiate a positive feedback cycle which builds trust and intimacy and, ultimately, happiness.”
Simple Gestures Matter
That is so true. The simplest gesture can initiate a positive feedback cycle. We have a few free tools on our web site that can help you start to show new value for your spouse in the simplest way. Below are a few of many with the first article asking you if your SPOUSE feels valued. You may value him or her, but does your spouse feel you do. And then we give you tips as to how to SHOW your spouse you value him or her:
• Does Your Spouse Feel Valued?
• 100 Ways to Show Love to Your Wife HER Way
• 100 Ways You Can Love Your Husband HIS Way
Cindy and I have used many of these ideas to bring about positive changes in our marriage. There are other articles and resources there that can help you with whatever you’re struggling with right now. You can find them in the Communication Tools topic. And we have other ideas in the Romantic Ideas topic. Beyond that, please look around the web site. Search for the topic you believe you could glean through that would be most helpful.
Shift Thinking to Show Value
What it all boils down to, is a shift in our thinking. That is followed by a shift in our actions. Remember, if we are a Christian we have an enemy (satan) who wants to destroy our marriage. He will do everything he can to get us to devalue our spouse.
God, on the other hand, has a guidebook —the Bible, to show us how to place the highest value on our spouse. If you’re stuck in finding it difficult (or impossible) to focus on the admirable qualities and actions of your spouse, start by going to scripture. This is especially relevant in showing value:
“Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
We won’t say this is easy to do. But if you commit it to the Lord and start small, you’ll be surprised by how God will supply. But the key is the last word in Paul’s exhortation – “DO!”
Steve and Cindy Wright
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3 responses to “Do You Value Your Spouse?”
Thank you for this write up, I appreciate what God is doing through you. I want to ask (Steve) if you loved Cindy at the earlier stage of your marriage even though you did not place so much value on her?
I am in a relationship in which I do not feel loved despite many gifts and treats. The gifts come without affection and passion, they are presented as though there is really nothing spectacular about them. I am sure he is a good guy and I wish his love and care could be more expressive.
I want to confirm if he truly loves me or it is just natural for him not to be expressive with words of affirmation. Kindly assist with your view on this and possible line of action.
Omolola, the best insight I can offer you is that “yes,” I did “love” Cindy. But it wasn’t the biblical model of an all-in commitment that I have for Cindy now. And that’s what led to a lot of our problems – neither one of us really knew what a deep, self-sacrificing love looked like until after we surrendered to Christ; and even then it took a while for us to grow in our understanding of what that looked like.
I’m going to suggest a book that radically transformed how Cindy and I showed love to one another. It’s called “The Five Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman. I believe you are probably in an African country so I’m not sure how easy it will be for you to obtain. But the link we provide here to Amazon may be able to ship it to you . . . or they may have an affiliate in your country. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts
This book will help both you and your husband understand what you specific love language is. The Five Love Languages are: Acts of Service, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. I’m going to guess that your primary love language is not receiving gifts from your husband. But I’m willing to bet that may be his. You see. we often EXPRESS our love to our spouse the way we most feel loved. For example, my primary love language is Words of Affirmation. So I would just heap words of praise and thankfulness on Cindy all the time thinking this would really bless her. But once we read the book I found out that her primary love language was Acts of Service. That was a real Ah-Ha moment for me. So, now I know if I want to SHOW Cindy how much I love her all I have to do are things like keep her car full of gas, wash her car, do the dishes after dinner, vacuum the house (without being asked), and so on.
Your phrase, “I wish his love and care would be more expressive,” would sort of indicate you’re an Acts Of Service person, too, when it comes to how you “feel” loved. Your husband sounds like me – he loves you but he just doesn’t know the “key” (yet) to what he needs to do to show his love to you.
I hope this helps. This one book has helped to change thousands of marriages for the better. Blessings! ~Steve Wright