It’s the Little Things

little-things“Name ten things you love about your husband,” I challenged a friend at the end of her marital rope.

“Nothing. I can’t think of one thing,” she replied.

I prompted, “Does he provide?”

“He brings home a paycheck. That’s it.” She had no trouble listing the things he did wrong.

Facebook post

I posted the same challenge on Facebook. Early in the day, I got one response. One person wrote one thing. I replied that I had asked for ten things, but there was no further reply. Was that it?

Finally, LouAnne chimed in with her Carlos rocks 10:

  1. He not only tells me he loves me; he demonstrates it in ways that matter to me.
  2. He works hard to provide.
  3. Stays calm and doesn’t lose his temper easily.
  4. Doesn’t complain when I am lazy.
  5. Helps with chores.
  6. Loves our children and is a great dad, grandad.
  7. Is fun loving.
  8. Doesn’t mind goofing around and looking silly?
  9. Willing to help others.
  10. Doesn’t mind taking in our family.

Imagine how Carlos feels. Think he wants to do more of those things?

At the beauty shop

A former nail technician was head-over-heels in love with a guy. (More likely in lust.) She asked me, “How did you know Patrick was the one?”

I told her, “There are hundreds of reasons.” Then I asked, “Name twenty things you love about your boyfriend.”

She squinted her nose and said, “Twenty?”

She could only come up with one. (Lust confirmed.)

The woman sitting in the next chair piped up. “I’ve been married sixteen years … Twenty things? Really?”

After sixteen years and fifteen minutes, she was proud to have come up with twelve.

How about you? Go ahead … write down ten things that you love about your spouse. Then write down ten things you’d like your spouse to change. Which list was easier?

thingsUntil death do us part

What if today was your spouse’s last day on this side of heaven? You’ve heard stories of last words spoken in anger to a spouse before they left for work. One car crash later and those irretractable words haunted his/her dreams for a lifetime.

Do you have friends or parents who have lost a spouse to death? An associate recently contemplated her friends’ loss of a husband. “I can’t imagine what I would do if my husband died.” She paused for a long moment. “Makes all those little things seem meaningless.”

What happened to marital bliss?

It’s an endemic societal problem that you likely inherited from your parents, your school or your job: performance-based living. Instead of praising the good stuff, we focus on what’s missed on life’s list of expectations. It’s how we’re programmed.

We are trained to be our own worst critic. We concentrate on what we didn’t do or what we messed up. Compound that with a spouse who reminds us what else we didn’t do or how we don’t measure up. It’s a lethal concoction.

How’s your love language?

When you married, you promised to love your spouse for who they were. Do you now criticize him/her for what they are not? How does this marriage speak line up with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7?

Why can’t you EVER … ?

“Love is patient and kind” (v.4).

Why didn’t I marry a man like Sally’s husband? He ALWAYS takes care of her.

“Love is not jealous, boastful, proud or rude” (v.4-5).

I’m the head of this household. Do what I tell you.

“It does not demand its own way” (v.5).

You never remember our anniversary.

“It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged” (v.5).

It serves you right.

“It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out” (v.6).

I can’t take it anymore. It’s over.

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (v.7).

What can you do?

In The Law of Happiness, Dr. Henry Cloud, co-author of Boundaries, states, “The good news is that you can learn to express gratitude and have it play a bigger role in your life with positive results.” Dr. Cloud goes on to say, “God has actually, literally, wired our brains and bodies to respond, come alive, and do better when we are practicing certain activities. When we give thanks, our chemistry changes in a positive way from when we are envious or resentful.”

Start every day by finding something to be thankful for about your spouse. Tell them. Keep a journal, or at a minimum a list. If it’s hard at first, think back to why you married. Look at photos of the good times. Eventually, your language will change the dynamics of your relationship.

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8b-9).

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Patricia Hartman, CPA is the owner of Patricia Hartman, CPA, PA, a forensic and tax accounting practice, where she has worked with hundreds of divorcing clients. She is the author of “The Christian Prenuptial Agreement” available at www.ChristianPrenuptial.com. She is the president of South Florida Word Weavers and a board member of Living Water Christian Counseling.

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