As spouses, we have desires and expectations around what it means to be loved by our partner. Though we will surely have various differences in this regard, we all have a common need as human beings:
To BE Loved, Cherished, Valued, and Understood.
Experiencing these dynamics with our spouse enables us to build a close bond and a feeling of security as a couple. They literally breathe life into our marriage, giving it the sustenance it needs to thrive and remain healthy in the long term.
A Mindset of Generosity
Generosity plays a central role in that important endeavor. It involves making consistent and daily attempts to do what our spouse has stated helps them to feel loved. Succeeding in this area requires that we remain "other-focused," a perspective defined by notions of reciprocity and mutual respect.
In other words, generosity involves looking out for the best interests of our partner, making their needs and desires a major priority in our lives. By working together to achieve this end we build into our marriage a fundamental sense of trust. This occurs from knowing our partner is actively seeking to care for our needs, which is an irreplaceable, beautiful and bonding experience.
Knowing What Matters Most
In my work with couples, spouses will often mention they either don't have a clear sense of what their spouse needs to feel loved, or they aren't effectively following through with what has been asked of them. Whatever the reason happens to be for this breakdown, the remedy lies in both remembering and focused action.
We can accomplish both by doing a couple of things:
- Writing down our partners core love-based needs.
- Daily seeking to meet at least one of those needs.
By having a heart that seeks to be generous we can quickly begin making headway in these two areas. Writing their needs down is an additional factor that enables us to remember what they are, and successfully move forward in the overall objective of helping our husband or wife to feel loved.
A Christian Imperative
Being generous, or other-focused, is centered on fulfilling the Christian imperative to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-40). By keeping our minds set on loving God and heeding his commands, we position ourselves to live according to his wisdom. Consider the following message:
"Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be
health to your flesh and strength to your bones." - Proverbs 3:7-8
I see tons of people try to resolve issues their own way, myself included, and it isn't pretty. The issue is whether we will trust that doing things according to the wisdom found in Scripture is better than how we would do them based our own insight, emotion, etc. Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. This has nothing to do with being thoughtless, but it has everything to do with applying godly wisdom individually and maritally.
A Simple Focus
The factors that make a marriage strong are actually quite simple. Indeed, marriages encompass the vast complexities of emotions and varying circumstances. However, there are certain basic principles of life that largely determine whether or not a marriage will be enjoyable and remain strong in the long term. Generosity is one of those essential principles.
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Eric Gomez, MS LMFT MHP
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Fulfilled Christian Counseling