Little Things

Fastening Her NecklaceEvery so often, I run a post on Normal Marriage that starts with these words…”Little things mean a lot.” I do this because it’s really easy to focus on the big things in marriage (communication, conflict, sex, etc.) and forget that the little things are just as important…if not more so.

We need to pay close attention to little things like… saying “I love you,” holding the door, compliments, saying, “thank-you,” holding hands, etc. The list can go on and on.

I often tell couples it’s not the great white shark that swallows a marriage whole. With the great white sharks, you can see the fin coming and rally to defend yourselves. Instead, it’s the little guppies that take a marriage down. The guppies seem so small you don’t worry about them. But these little guppies can devour a marriage bite by bite.

So why do we ignore the little things when it would be so easy to do them? Here are some possible reasons:

We assume that the little things aren’t that important. But little things are very important. In comparison to the price of a car, motor oil is a little thing. But without that little thing, your car will breakdown. The little things in marriage serve as the oil that keeps everything running well.

We’re afraid of how our spouse will respond. If you start doing little things, your spouse could act suspicious and accuse you of working some kind of angle. Or your spouse could start expecting even more of you. Or perhaps the worse response would be that your spouse doesn’t even notice what you do and you wind up feeling unappreciated. It’s true that doing the little things can make you feel uncertain in the short run, but not doing the little things will guarantee uncertainty in the long run.

We’re preoccupied with other things. Work, kids, bills, phones, calendars, chores, TV, internet, sports, hobbies, etc. There’s so much screaming for our time and attention that it’s easy to just mindlessly drop the little things. But there is nothing more important than doing the little things that show your spouse the care and courtesy they need and deserve. Don’t let what’s urgent take you away from what’s important.

We take our spouse for granted. The longer you’re married, more comfortable you become, and the easier it gets to stop doing the little things. The longer you’re around your spouse the easier it is to stop paying attention to them, to stop appreciating them, to stop trying to make them feel special, to stop paying attention to their needs…to stop doing the little things. Your spouse should be the one person on the planet you never take for granted.

We become selfish. Let’s face it…we all battle selfishness. And nothing will stop you from doing the little things for your spouse like your own selfishness. Selfishness is a virus that can infect a marriage, and the best antidote against the virus of selfishness is to consistently do the little things your spouse wants and needs.

When you stop doing the little things, your relationship becomes mundane and you start functioning more like roommates than life-long, passionate partners.

So how about it? Have you gradually stopped doing the little things? If so, you can get back in the groove of doing the little things. Here are some things to get you started…

  • Do the simple things you already know to do. Say, “Thank-you.” Compliment them. Say, “I love you.” Help them with little things. In short, do all the things you tell your kids they should do.
  • Pay attention to what they say they like.
  • Listen when they say, “I wish…”
  • Consider their complaints and try to do something about them.

Ben Franklin once said, “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” But in marriage, the saying should be, “Watch the little things and the bigger things will take care of themselves.”

Take the challenge. Pick out a few little things that you can start doing for the next few weeks and see what a difference it makes in your marriage. Then, leave a comment and let us know how it went.

Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg

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