I am delighted to share with you Meghan’s guest blog. This is a great example of using play and appreciation to revive the spark and keep the joy going in your marriage.
Back in 2012, my marriage was falling apart. We were four years into our marriage, nine years into our relationship, and I didn’t think there was a whole lot of hope for us. Actually, I had given up on us. But my husband, Brandon, saw the bigger picture. He saw past the current struggles. He saw past the fact that I had checked out and was throwing in the towel. He knew that our love story wouldn’t end in tragedy four years after our “I do’s.”
In our early years of marriage, we were broke, stressed, and far away from where we grew up. We’d moved from Michigan to Texas to North Carolina, just trying to figure out what our “happily ever after” looked like. By 2012, we were pretty settled in NC, had bought our first home, and things should have been looking up. But we’d spent so much time unhappy, and in that misery, taking our relationship for granted. It was taking its toll, and we found ourselves wondering how we’d ever gotten to such a terrible place in our relationship.
So when I had given up all hope, Brandon set out on a mission to show me how much I was loved and appreciated. He decided that, whether or not I reciprocated, he was going to show up in our marriage. That he wouldn’t take me for granted, that he would become a better husband even if I wasn’t ready to become a better wife.
I think that’s when our love notes, texts, and learning to date each other again really began.
Brandon started by planning dates for us to reconnect. He wrote me little notes to make sure I knew how much he loved me, the things he appreciated about me, and to ask me on the date. One of the best ones was when he made me a dinner on our back patio. It was simple, thoughtful, and a really great night.
Slowly, over the course of several months, the little notes, thoughtful dates, and Brandon’s determination brought us back together. Now, seven years later, I can look back and say with confidence: appreciation matters. Choosing each other daily matters. Focusing on the good parts matters.
These days, at least once a week, I come out to the living room at 5 AM for my usual quiet time and will see the soft glow of a book light. Sitting under that light is a lined notecard. And on that notecard is a short but meaningful note from my husband. He’s reminding me of why he’s thankful for me, our family, our marriage, or even that it’s almost the weekend and he can’t wait to spend extra time together. At least once a week, Brandon can expect to open the fridge to grab out creamer for our morning coffee, and find a notecard from me propped up on the half and half. On that notecard, I’m reminding him of how much I love and appreciate him, or how much fun I had on our home date night, just playing board games together.
Today, when we go for a run by ourselves, we can expect the other to send us an encouraging text letting us know what a great job we’re doing on that run. Sometimes a simple “Keep it up, babe!” is just what we need to finish those miles. When those runs are finished, we rarely forget to say thank you for allowing the time and space to get a workout in…because with two young kids and two full time jobs, it can feel like a pretty big sacrifice!
These days, I know that when Brandon runs to the store, he’ll likely find a little surprise to bring home to me. It might be a Peppermint Mocha. It might be a cute decoration for our house or my office. Or it might be a $0.50 candy bar. The point is, he’s always looking for small ways to show me that he appreciates me, even when he’s running to Target or Walmart.
Showing appreciation and gratitude doesn’t have to be some expensive, elaborate gesture to be meaningful. It can be totally free and take 3 minutes, and mean more than a costly gift ever could. Those notes we write back and forth are my favorite things. I keep a bunch of them tucked into my Bible so I can look at them any time I want.
Once you have decided to focus on gratitude in your life or in your marriage, you start to look for things to be thankful for. Instead of focusing on all the negative stuff like I used to, I’m thinking of the notecard-worthy things in our marriage.
Our marriage isn’t perfect. But the difference now is that we’re both actively choosing to love, honor, and appreciate each other in small ways and big, each and every day.
Meghan is a working wife and mama of two (ages 5 and 2), just trying to keep everyone decently happy and content. She writes her blog this average mom about navigating motherhood while being totally–you guessed it!—average. Her other favorite blog topics include fitness, running, marriage, and motivation. You can find her on Instagram (@thisaveragemom)
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