A few months ago, I shared with you four things I say to my wife to put action behind the words “I love you.” Those four phrases continue to make a huge impact on our marriage.
I thought it only fitting to follow up that post with four things Holly says to me that add weight to her “I love you.” Not only have Holly and I walked through 15 years of marriage, but as a pastor, I have also talked with many couples as they work through struggles in their own marriage. It’s a wonderful thing to pour hope back into relationships that look so hopeless.
These experiences taught me that solid marriages and crumbling marriages are both a direct result of the small things. Below are four small phrases you can say to your husband to add weight to the words "I love you."
Say this: “I’m proud of you.”
I recently heard Pastor Steven Furtick say, "Most men feel like they are not cutting it."
I think this is true. Most men feel like they’re not good enough. When Holly says, "I’m proud of you," what I really hear is that she is proud to be associated with me and proud to be seen with me. One of the most powerful ways a wife can show pride for her husband is to brag on him. Brag on him to the kids: "Your daddy works so hard every day! Did you know daddy is the best mechanic in Dallas? I am so proud he is my husband and your daddy!" Brag on him to your family and friends.
When your spouse finds out you’re bragging about him, guess what will happen? I bet you he’ll become a more confident person—a man who realizes he’s not only cutting it, but actually excelling as the man God created him to be.
Say this: “I trust you.”
When it comes to making decisions, I prefer to make the decision and then manage that decision. Holly, on the other hand, would rather analyze and talk it through until she’s sure it’s the right decision.
So when Holly says, "I trust you," what she’s really saying is, "We don't have to analyze and talk this one out for days." Don't get me wrong—I love to talk things through with Holly. I appreciate her input and perspective. Sometimes, though, I just want to make the decision and move on!
More importantly, I know when Holly tells me she trusts me, she is saying, "I trust in your relationship with God and your ability to hear from Him on your own. I trust you as our leader. I trust you to make the right decision—and even if you don't, we will manage it together. I am not jumping ship the moment you make one wrong decision. I am here for the long haul and I trust you.”
Say this: “I handled it.”
Nothing that says "I love you" more than when Holly calls me at work and says, "The washing machine broke and flooded the laundry room today, but I want you to know I called the handyman and took care of it. Everything is good as new!"
Of course it's $317 later, but good as new nonetheless! I tell you what . . . in the middle of a busy day at work, she could have told me it was $2,000 and I would still be relieved that she handled it.
Some days, the best way you show your spouse that you are thankful for him is to take on something that normally would fall in his territory. When you handle it, you take one extra thing off his list rather than adding it to his list.
Say this: “Hi honey. How was your day?”
This isn’t so much about the words a wife says, but rather what she is doing when she says them.
On most days, Holly gets home before I do. The two hours before I get home are a crazy time for her—she’s helping kids with homework, offering after-school snacks, finishing up details from work, and making dinner for the family. I know how chaotic this time can feel for her.
That’s why it means so much to me that she often stops what she’s doing to meet me at the door—in the middle of all the afternoon chaos—and ask me about my workday. By giving me a few seconds of attention, she tells me that I am her priority. I am her choice.
So meet your husband in the middle of your chaos for a moment. Give each other a heartfelt hug or a kiss and then tag team the home together for the rest of the evening.
Remember: When it comes to marriage, the small things are the big things. Small steps of intentionality make a big path for love. Small steps of loyalty and concern lead to lifelong companionship. As spouses, we should sweat the small stuff. It matters big.