When a passionate connection between you is present, you are willing to suffer and sacrifice for each other. John R. Buri, author of “How to Love Your Wife”, and a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota shared helpful tips at one workshop at the National Association of Relationship and Marriage Educators annual conference about loving each other well that I’m summarizing as follows:

  1. Since losing appreciation of each other can kill love, identifying and sharing gratitude and what we appreciate in each other keeps love present. If we do something differently, such as making a gratitude list each evening, we feel and think differently and more positively about each other. This changes the environment of our home and time together. He encouraged doing this practice in the evening so that the gratitude consolidates during sleep and increases the sense of love the following day. He encouraged being a loving spouse, not just doing the things that look like being a loving spouse [although doing can lead to being!].
  2. Maintaining a healthy connection of sustainable love between couples before and after marriage requires three elements: intimacy, passion, and commitment. In building intimacy through communication, couples are best to go below the surface, below talking about people, places, and things, and share what’s important to you, what you care about, what you value, as well as talk about the personal impact of events or circumstances. He called people to be witnesses to their spouses’ lives, to know them better than anyone. [He recommended a helpful book to spark deeper conversations: “If Questions for the Soul” by Evelyn McFarlane and James Saywell. He also suggested that couples before marriage have times without videos, TV, CDs, radio, texting, Internet…and be together. Likely good advice for married couples too!]

Commitment sees you through the winter of a marriage, which every marriage experiences. When you get disoriented and lost, commitment is your stable compass that helps you find your way. Often what is needed is to move from “me” to “we”. And God is needed to keep courage for going forward and stay encouraged…

Other Helpful Resources:
– University of Arkansas: http://www.arfamilies.org, particularly their Marriage Garden materials