Thursday, February 5, 2009


Last Christmas, my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. I still cannot believe that we lasted 25 years of marital life together plus 6 years and 4 months of courtship!!! The initial years were not easy and now that we are older, it almost seems as thought the conflict we had in the past were so minor and even trivial!

After all this time, there is one thing that I realize. A marriage or a relationship need continual nurturing in order to remain healthy. Our plants need consistent care such as in watering, weeding and pruning to flourish and must never be neglected.

Is there a formula then for love and intimacy just as there is a formula for gardening? From my experience, I believe that it is important to make our spouses feel cared for and important in our lives.

In very simple terms,

You + partner + messages of appreciation = LASTING LOVE

Actually, it takes very little effort to show love to our spouses.

Typically, when we talk to our mates, we tend to focus on the things that have to be done.

Common statements in my home:

Are you picking Nick up from violin, or am I?

Did you mail the insurance payment?

And in general, we also naturally tend to point out things that need fixing.

I could be telling my spouse about a leaky faucet or how the car needs to be serviced.

But how often do we take the tiny amount of time to regularly articulate the things that work?

All too often, when things are running smoothly, we begin to neglect what works in our marriages or relationships. The cost of this neglect: you and your partner begin to feel unappreciated, emotional intimacy between you dwindles, sex becomes rote and mechanical. People often rationalize that it isn’t so bad living in a chronic state of disconnection from their loved one (after all, most of the couples you know don’t seem happy either). Some look to friends or relatives outside of the relationship to make them feel special and appreciated. It shouldn’t be this way. And it doesn’t have to.

Change patterns of love-neglect

Keep this simple. In fact, the simpler the better. The goal is to be consistent and make it last. (And most people, no matter how busy, can wedge simple, easy tasks into their routines.) I used to labor over lengthy love letters. Now I don’t. Start with small, loving, and supportive statements. Here are few areas to focus on in your marriage or relationship:

Messages of appreciation

Any sentiment that communicates thanks and gratitude fall into this category.

Make it a habit to say “Thank you” more often, even when you partner or spouse does the little things that s/he has done a million times before (poured you the first cup of morning coffee, fed the dog, took out the trash…even if you had to ask).

Make sure your partner hears your thanks. (In other words, don’t mutter it or say it under your breath. Be generous with your verbalized gratitude.)

I remember how a former classmate from KL told me that her romantic hubby used to leave her post-it notes under the coffee mug so that she would see it when she cleared the table. How romantic!

Beyond “Thank you,” try to add statements like:

“You’re such a giving person.”

“That was so thoughtful of you.”

“That really helped me.”

“I appreciate what you did for me.”

“You’re such a hard worker.”

“You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“That was kind of you.”

As you grow more accustomed to pointing out the positive things, you’ll naturally see places where these types of statements will fit. And of course your partner will be more motivated to continue to do whatever it was that earned your warm appreciation. So you shape a wonderfully reciprocal situation when you tell him/her you appreciate something.

Here are some other ideas for statements you can use in other situations:

Messages of love and interest

I love you.

I missed you.

I can’t wait to see you.

You make me so happy.

I love spending time with you.

I look forward to spending time with you.

I’m thinking of you.

I love that about you.

How was your day? I’d love to hear about it.

How would you like to celebrate?

Messages of support and commitment

We’re in this together.

What can I do to help?

Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.

That took a lot of courage.

I’m so proud of you.

You did a great job.

I’m sending you good-luck vibes.

I’m here for you.

Tell me what you need.

Gestures of love and support:

Actions often speak louder than words. So in addition to regularly sending your partner verbal messages of appreciation to make him/her feel special, take the necessary action steps to make this happen in other ways. And remember, big gestures aren’t necessary. A relationship benefits from regular, consistent, smaller gestures, not large-but-rare ones.

A kiss; a hug; holding hands; touching one another; a smile; a loving glance; a wink; a wave; a thumbs-up; a high-five; making him laugh or smile; making her coffee; bringing home his favorite food; a loving note, e-mail, text message, or voice message; a gift; a pleasant surprise; helping out more; being present; being playful; planning for fun…

These lists are by no means exhaustive.

Start with them and practice with your partner. It’s important to feel the truth behind each statement of love you send.Mean what you say and you will touch your partner’s heart, and to do that you have to be in tune with your own heart first.

Feeling loved and appreciated go hand-in-hand. Love and emotional intimacy are nurtured by messages and actions that make you and your partner feel special. While this tends to flow naturally when couples are first dating, years into the relationship it often takes reminders and consistent effort to stay on top of this vital part of your relationship. Believe me…after so many years…I should know.

So dear reader, whoever you are, wherever you are, I wish you many years of loving, sharing and living with your partner/spouse. God bless you and your family.


mamasita said...

Dear Paula.
I have come to a stage where I'd rather let him marry a nice young lady than make him drool in his dreams! Heck! I too don't want to get stuck to an old cheeky geezer!hahaha
(hopefully not laah)!

Kak Teh said...

Paula, happy belated 25th to you and yours. Our 29th was also in december and I thank God for every year that He gives us.

masterwordsmith said...

Hi Mamasita,

Ah I see the secret to your happy marriage is definitely a great sense of humor! Thanks for popping by..Take care and may you and Dato' Sak have many more decades of marital bliss.


Hello Kak Teh,

Lovely to see you in warm Malaysia. Must be frigging cold there in London now. Hope you and yours stay warm and close together.

Wow! 29 years together! That is superb! May Allah bless you with many more decades of marital bliss too!

Thanks for popping by!