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Greeting your spouse with a smile means that no matter how difficult my day, I am happy to see you. It’s a small act that yields a powerful impact. You may have had a huge disappointment at work, a child is wearing you down, and you are feeling overwhelmed, but if you communicate love the challenge will not leave your relationship tattered.
Body language impacts us. A sour demeanor creates a chill in the air. A smile draws us close. Even if you don’t feel like it, be sure to greet your spouse with a pleasant face. One of my father’s favorite sayings was “Smile even if you don’t have reason to smile and God will give you the reason.”
It’s easy to focus on what bothers us instead of all that is good. We can enter a room and see chaos or we can be grateful for family life. Much depends on how we train our eyes to zoom in on the positive.
Thinking thankfulness means that each day I consciously take time to consider my blessings. Do I cherish having a spouse at my side? Do I appreciate the sounds of children? Do I realize how fortunate I am to live in a place I call home?
Then there are the little moments through which I can cultivate gratitude. A warm dinner, a carpool driven, a listening ear, if we decide to contemplate we will undoubtedly uncover the gifts that our relationship brings.
Marriage thrives on gratitude. A thankless spouse grows into a thoughtless ingrate; expecting more while caring less.
Think thankfulness and find a way to express your appreciation. Watch the delight in the eyes of your spouse and see your love grow.
O: Open your eyes to the needs of your spouse
We live in a selfie world where we focus our lens on ourselves and all too often neglect to observe those around us.
Take a step back and really look at your spouse. What do you see? Is he burned out? Is she feeling overburdened? Does your husband need a night out with you? Could your wife use an hour to rest?
Relationships are all about loving kindness. We do for each other not because we need to even out the score but because we desire to create an environment of goodness. Be kind to your spouse. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Ask yourself, what can I do for my spouse today? How can I help make my partner’s life better?
Opening your eyes to your partner’s needs keeps compassion alive and shows your spouse that you care.
P: Protect your borders
Some couples are in the toxic habit of posting their lives online. Every gift, new piece of furniture, dinner out, or beach vacation is immediately seen on Instagram and Facebook. We are so busy sharing with others we neglect to share the moment with our partner. Besides, why the need to expose our lives? Comparing is never healthy. Resentment and jealousy grows.
The Talmud teaches us that blessing comes from that which is hidden. Yes, enjoy your vacation, but you don’t need to take other couples with you online. Have a great night out. But keep it private. Intimacy is both physical and emotional.
Make it a habit to put your phone away when spending time together. Create ‘no phone zones’ like meal time, date night, the moment you awake in the morning, and the moment you return at night. Protecting your borders means that you establish routines to maintain your connection.
Be careful not to fall into the pattern of confiding your spousal disappointments to family and friends. There is no benefit to be gained. They may unknowingly encourage you to damage your relationship. If need be, find a professional or Rabbi/Rebbetzin/therapist to help you navigate any challenges. Guard this most cherished connection, the bond between husband and wife.