Another example: before I learned how to swim correctly, I wasted A LOT of energy trying to do free style staying flat on my stomach and using mostly my arm strength for momentum. When I learned the correct form, I was able to go twice as fast while using WAY less energy by letting my hips be my power source – moving them from side to side to gain momentum with each stroke.
Sometimes I think we waste marital energy in all the wrong places. I think there are ways to expend less energy and time, while getting more bonding bang for our buck when we use our energy in the right places.
So, what are the “right places?”
I recently re-read the 5 Love Languages. I’m sure most of you are at least vaguely familiar with the book, but if not, here’s the gist: many couples have such a hard time connecting because they are speaking different love languages. We are trying to show our spouses love in ways that just don’t resonate with him/her.
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Acts of Service
- Physical touch
The book is replete with examples of couples wasting their marital energy- showing their love in all the “wrong” ways – meaning ways that their spouses didn’t recognize. (NOTE: The True Agape blog is FULL of awesome ideas for how to best speak your spouse’s love language- check out their 5 Love Languages posts here)
For example, a frustrated wife who does so much for her husband- trying to make good meals, keeping the house cleaned, irons his clothes, etc, yet whose husband doesn’t seem to appreciate her efforts or feel love from her. He complains that their sex life has been lacking and she thinks, “Of course not. I don’t have the energy after taking care of our kids and house all day!”
If his primary love language is physical touch, no amount of service could compensate for a lack of physical connection. Her marital energy would be better spent expending less energy on creating the perfect dinner and cleaning and more energy on back rubs, hand holding, and … well, being physical.
Likewise, if he is confused why his wife is not more affectionate when he does plenty (in his mind) to show his love by buying flowers and cards, but her love language is acts of service, his energy would be better spent less on buying gifts and more on helping out around the house.
That being said, there are certainly some things Rich does that I appreciate much more than others. My primary love language is quality time, so even if Rich were buying me gifts all the time or sending kind texts, to me, it still wouldn’t replace him giving me his undivided attention. That is how his marital energy is best spent- looking me in the eye, talking to me and spending time with me. Little else he does can compensate if that isn’t happening.
So how do we know how to show our spouses love in the best ways and save our marital energy??
Your spouse is the only one who can tell you how to best love him or her. Here’s a simple tip that may help: once a week every week ask your spouse: What is one thing I can do for you this week to make you feel loved?
Write it down and then DO THAT THING. Or at least give it your best shot.
I believe that done right, this tip can save your marriage.
Rich and I have started asking each other this question at the end of our companionship inventory. It is a WONDERFUL way to not spend so much energy with a trial-and-error method of showing love. Your spouse is telling you exactly how they want to be loved that week. And then when you do it, it is interpreted for what it truly is: an act of love. Your motives aren’t questioned. Your energy is well spent.
This isn’t about you, it’s about your marriage, so start by just asking your spouse, and chances are they’ll reciprocate before too long. And when they do, remember to keep your requests VERY simple and easy to do especially at first. (Rich and I have trial-and-error-ed this one for you; trust us, keep your requests simple).
We’re all busy. We’re all tired. We all should probably be spending more time on bonding with our spouses than we’re currently doing. Use your marital energy in the best ways possible- ask your spouse how they want to be loved and then show them love in that way.