Before you misinterpret the title of this post, let me explain. This post is not about making love to two other people at the same time. It’s about making love to one person for a very long time. Wait… that didn’t sound right either. Let me start again.
There are 3 ways of displaying love to your spouse….not to be confused with what Dr. Gary Chapman describes as the 5 Love Languages. (All of a sudden, love is starting to sound a lot like math.) Anyway, as I was saying, the three ways of love are:
Declaration. The first way you display love is to say it. Think of the first time you said “I love you” to your spouse, or the first time you said “I love you” to a son, daughter or family member. Saying “I love you” forces you to let your guard down and become vulnerable. Saying “I love you” is risky. What if they don’t say it back? What if they make fun of you and say you’ve been watching too many Hallmark movies? It may be hard for you to say “I love you,” but I can guarantee that when you get to the end of your life, you will wish you had said “I love you” more often and to more people.
Description. This is where you go from telling them you love them to telling them how much you love them. With my children, I moved from saying “I love you” to telling them, “I love you more than ice cream,” or “I love you to the moon and back.” When you were dating your spouse, you eventually moved from just saying “I love you” to saying things like, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” If you’ve been married for a while, you don’t just say “I love you,” you say something like, “I can’t imagine life without you.” (Ok, maybe you don’t say things like that, but you should!)
Demonstration. This is where you go beyond telling them how much you love them to showing them how much you love them. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.” Well demonstrating love is putting your actions were your mouth is. This will look different for different spouses, but here are a few examples:
- You go shopping with your spouse when you would rather watch the big race.
- You go see that slasher film when you would rather see a romantic comedy.
- You come home at the end of a hard day and rather than sit down, you ask, “What can I help you with?”
- You say, “Ok,” when you would rather say, “Not tonight.”
- You listen and engage when you would rather check out and shut down.
- You tell them how much you appreciate all they’ve done, when you would rather tell them about all you’ve done.
All three ways of displaying love…declaration, description and demonstration…are important and necessary. You shouldn’t scrimp on any of them.
- You may be better at demonstrating love than saying it, but saying “I love you” is still important. Saying “I love you” helps your spouse feel secure, significant and special. It not only helps them feel good about themselves, it helps them feel good about the marriage, so don’t stop saying “I love you.”
- You may be better at saying “I love you” than demonstrating it, but as the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” If you’re saying you love them, but your actions are saying you don’t really care about their needs, your actions will undermine your words and your marriage.
- Even if you’re telling your spouse you love them and demonstrating your love to them, you still need to be describing for them how much you love them. Why? Because, saying “I love you” can become common place; like a tag line you use before you get off the phone. And demonstrating your love for them can become just a way to get them off you’re back. But, when you go to the trouble to describe how much you love your spouse, it shows your intentionality and your heart. It’s the icing on the cake!
If you love your spouse with this 3-way kind of love, your marriage will last longer, be stronger and probably feel hotter than you can imagine. You won’t get that kind of return from the other kind of 3-way love!
Which of these three ways of love…declaration, description, or demonstration…do you need to improve upon? What’s one thing you could do to get better at this? Take the next 7 days and put some intentional effort into it and see what happens with your spouse…and you.
Copyright © 2017 Bret Legg