Be a lifelong student of your spouse
I encourage you to go above and beyond in meeting your spouse’s needs. If you want to create a positive, life-giving environment in your marriage, few things will do it like giving in a way that meets your spouse’s needs “and then some.”
But in order to show love to your husband or wife way beyond the minimum acceptable level, to move into the realm of delighting them, you have to know the things that would give them the most joy and pleasure.
This requires that you become a lifelong student of your spouse’s needs and wants; even more, the things that bring them pleasure and delight.
Do you study your spouse? It’s time to…
Go to Spouse School
One of my favorite marriage bloggers, Lori Byerly, aka The Generous Wife wrote a post called “Study Him.”
If you aren’t sure where to start in studying your spouse, I’d encourage you to check out the comments in The Generous Wife post. In it, Lori opens up the question of “How do you study your husband?” for her readers to answer. There are a lot of really good ideas there, many of which apply to a husband’s study of his wife as well.
Many of the ideas there have to do with being aware and being intentional. You might check out my other posts on “Watchfulness” to learn about how to build the habit of watchfulness into your marriage.
A couple of other resources I came across recently give you some specific ideas on how to bless and inspire your husband and wife. You’ll need to sift through these to see which would be good for your particular spouse’s preferences, but the lists are a great place to get some ideas for breaking out of the routine interactions you might find your marriage in.
One thing I’d like to remind you of is that it is likely that the things that delight your spouse are not the same things that delight you. So I would encourage you to not make the assumption that just because it’s something you like, it is also something your spouse will like as well.
You Never Graduate
You might be thinking that this idea of studying your spouse is obvious – a real no-brainer. But the truth is that we are creatures of habit. We tend to fall into comfortable routines and patterns, but you never graduate from spouse school! I encourage you to be a lifelong learner in this regard. Don’t let your relationship fall into familiar patterns based solely on past assumptions.
Maybe you are responding to this with, “I already know what my wife likes” or “I know what makes my wife husband happy.” Kudos to you for at least realizing that knowing your spouse’s needs and wants is important. But let me challenge you to grow in your understanding and to take a fresh look at your spouse. You might be surprised to find that their preferences have changed, that they’ve acquired new interested or tastes, or have discovered new delights. It might even be possible to introduce something to your spouse that they didn’t even know they wanted!
Help Your Spouse Delight You
Finally, let me close with this thought. Assume that your spouse is also a student of you and do your best to help educate them.
Let me be clear, this is not an open invitation for you to be selfish and demanding. Rather, think of it as helping your husband or wife love you well. The best way to do this is through thankfulness and expressions of appreciation. When they do something extra nice or something out of the ordinary that just makes you happy, let them know it with specific words of thanks and reciprocal acts of kindness.
Letting them know specifically what they did to make you happy is the best way to get them to do it again!
I encourage you to routinely revisit the question of how to delight your spouse. Or better still, just develop the habit of making a mental note (or writing it down if that helps) when you notice a positive reaction to something you’ve said or done. It really can be just that simple.