This past weekend my husband arrived home after a week-long business trip to Lima, Peru. As a mother of five with a very active household, I was exhausted, ready for a break, and longing to be in his arms. Needless to say, I was excited for Troy to be home. Whenever he travels, I find myself more keenly aware of all that I am thankful for in him. I notice the countless little things that he does each day because he is not here to do them and there is a void. The old adage, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” rings so true. Not only do I miss my husband’s physical presence when he is gone, but I become more conscientious of the depth of our emotional and spiritual connection as a married couple, which enables us to remain close when miles separate us.
In the hustle of day-to-day living it can be easy to take your spouse for granted, yet it is so important to slow down and take time to recognize the value your spouse brings to your marriage and your family. For me, the physical absence of my husband due to his frequent work-related travel provides regular opportunities for me to reflect on what my spouse means to me. What opportunities allow you to reflect on the blessing your spouse is in your life?
A Thanksgiving tradition that Troy and I began the first year of our marriage and have continued ever since, is to write an actual list of things we are thankful for in each other. We share our lists with one another on Thanksgiving Day. It is an incredible blessing to not only reflect on what I am grateful for in my husband, but to also experience the joy of hearing him share the list he has written about me. Throughout the year, especially during challenging times, the lists are a perfect reminder for both of us to focus on the blessing of one another and not dwell on the hardship of the moment.
Prayerfully consider beginning this tradition to honor your own marriage.
Your expression of sincere gratitude can bless your spouse and fuel their desire to continue to develop those same endearing behaviors that you appreciate in them. Putting in writing what you are grateful for is a fabulous start to being mindful of the gift of your spouse, but a daily attitude of gratitude for them in your life will do wonders for your marriage. A thankful heart is a happy heart. Saint Paul says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) There is always something to be thankful for in your spouse and some days that might just be the fact that you have an opportunity to love them and practice patience despite how difficult it may be, and in doing so, you are strengthening your character and growing your marriage.
The words thank you are two of the most powerful words you can say to your spouse. But for thankfulness to be effective, it must be specific. Instead of saying, “Thank you for being a great spouse,” say “Thank you honey for taking the garbage out.” Also, make sure your spouse knows what you value in them. Use words of affirmation to acknowledge your spouse’s character qualities. Is your spouse creative, honest, kind, courageous? Tell them.
God has placed a desire in each one of us to be loved for who we are and to be known for who God created us to be.
You can reach this level of intimacy in your marriage through the daily recognition and appreciation of Christ’s presence alive in your spouse. What are you thankful for in your spouse?
(-Originally published on the “For Your Marriage” section of the USCCB Website)