As we approach the beginning of the holiday season, I gear up for a busy time of couples counseling. There always seems to be an influx of couples coming to see me for counseling help after Thanksgiving and Christmas. These holidays can test family relationships, strain finances, and highlight the lengthy winter that lies ahead. However, couples can combat some of these tendencies and strengthen their relationships through the holidays. One of the best ways is to help your spouse realize how thankful you are for them.
My family has a ritual at Thanksgiving dinner. We all go around the table saying all the things we are thankful for. This is certainly an uplifting exercise. However, I think couples can take this a step further by actually showing their spouse they are thankful for them. After all, actions do speak louder than words. My father often recounted the wise counsel he received when he was being sealed to my mother. President Lee said to him, "Just because of this ceremony, Heidi will not lose her love for roses or her taste for chocolates." Simple, yet incredibly profound advice. While I am not suggesting that flowers and chocolates are the only key to showing your spouse you love them (though chocolate goes a long way for me), the principle is vital for healthy relationships: you need to keep doing the things that made your spouse fall in love with you. After all, that is who you convinced them you could be.
Too often couples stop doing the things that made them fall in love with each other. Are you guilty of such behavior? What better time to recommit to showing your spouse how much you love them than Thanksgiving. Here are several things you could do to show your thankfulness to your spouse (for a printable list of these ideas visit www.swintoncounseling.com):
-Take her out for a date every week. Take the initiative to find the babysitter.
-Surprise him with a clean house.
-Watch the kids for the afternoon so she can have some time to herself.
-Give him a hug and a kiss each time he leaves or returns home.
-Surprise her by bringing her lunch at work.
-Take care of the kids in the morning so he can sleep in.
-Make her breakfast in bed.
-Take him to his favorite restaurant (even if you don't like it).
-Keep a dry-erase marker in the bathroom and write her notes on the mirror.
-Ask him to tell you about something he cares about.
-Do whatever you used to do when you were courting her.
-Do you have other ideas? Leave a comment below.
Each person may need something different to feel love from his or her spouse. Do you know what would say that to your spouse? If so, do more of it. If not, you may not be showing your spouse how much you love them. This Thanksgiving, will your spouse know how thankful you are to have them? Show them, they will be thankful.
Jonathan Swinton is an LDS Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. He accepts self and Bishop referrals, and is available to provide marriage and family therapy services and weekend couple retreats to anyone interested. He is also available to speak on marriage or family issues at Relief Society and Ward events. Contact him at Swinton Counseling: 801-647-9951, www.swintoncounseling.com.