Not too long ago, I was on the phone with a loan officer and we were nailing down some refinancing details when he asked me a question about our finances that I couldn’t answer. I conferenced in my wife and that short conversation revealed something interesting about our marriage.
She answered and I said, “Hey, honey,” in a cheerful, loving tone.
“Hey,” she replied in an equally loving tone; and within minutes, she helped get the issue resolved.
Hours later, I was still thinking about how my wife’s tone changed when she got on the phone and heard me talk to her like I was someone who – well, someone who really cares for her.
It occurred to me that sometimes when my wife I talk to each other, we sound like we're two tired employees working at a drive-thru window. We're just taking care of business – rushed, preoccupied and, at times, irritable. But having that loan officer on the line with us subconsciously made us more aware of how we ought to sound when we're talking to each other.
It's hard to keep that in mind all the time though. Couples have houses to clean, bills to pay, kids to feed, groceries to buy and logistics to plan. But in the midst of all of that, we don't want to let our words sound too familiar or unkind. Before long, it could spread to other areas.
Maybe we'll start looking at our phones more than we look at each other. Binge-watching Netflix could take the place of emotional and physical intimacy. We might look up one day and realize that the only thing we have in common is taking care of our kids.
I’m not saying every conversation couples have is supposed to feel like a first date, and every text isn't going to have a heart emoji in it. It's not practical to be lovey-dovey in those moments when you're talking about balancing the checkbook or figuring out where the baby's diaper cream is.
The point is that we've got to shake up the doldrums of everyday life with unexpected moments of romance. It doesn't have to be a big lift either. Wives, grab your husband's butt while he's grilling burgers. Husbands, buy some flowers from the supermarket and bring them home to your wife.
Start substituting your complaints about each other with compliments. Make out. Brag on each other in public. Tell the kids to go away because the two of you want to have a meaningful conversation.
Just do something.
Love is a verb, not just a feeling; and if we're going to keep love alive it's going to require a series of choices in the little things every day. Because if we're smart, we'll remember that little things become big things over the years – for better or worse. Let's choose well.