The Happiness Project: 5 Ways to Show your Husband you Love him

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I’ve been on a reading frenzy lately. Fiction, non-fiction, historical non-fiction, spiritual, parenting… My bedroom nightstand would look like a cluttered book mess without the help of my trusty Kindle:

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One of the books I’ve been reading is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. (And it’s not pictured because it’s tucked away neatly inside my Kindle.) I’m only a few chapters in and so far I’m really digging how pragmatic and straight forward the content is.

In the book, Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

I just finished up Chapter 2 (which as it happens, was February, the 2nd month in her journey) that focuses on marriage — because as it turns out, she says, “a good marriage is one of the factors most strongly associated with happiness.” (On the flip side, research shows that “marital satisfaction drops substantially after the first child arrives.” Uh-oh, say it isn’t so.)

So here we are in the middle of February, just a few short days away from celebrating Valentine’s Day; a day devoted to showering our significant other with signs of our love (usually in the form of special treats, mementos, gifts and love notes).

In honor of V-Day, I thought I’d share a “Cliff’s Notes” version of what Rubin shares in her chapter “Remembering Love.” To inspire us to show our husbands how much we love them this week (and beyond, of course). I plan on really (you heard it hear Bryce, written officially on the internet) trying to commit myself to these “relationship resolutions” (if you will).

Drumroll please…

Quit Nagging

Simple, right? I mean intellectually, I think we all know nobody likes to be nagged. And quite frankly, I hate it when I find myself being a nag. So why do I do it? Over and over again. Control freak? Maybe. Do I subconsciously convince myself that whatever the item I’m nagging over is for the betterment of the household? Perhaps.

Regardless, putting a red light to my nagging behavior is a sure way to show my husband how much I love him. Rubin does give some tips on putting a halt to nagging:

-Try to be more observant and appreciative of all the tasks your husband does. (Apparently as humans, it’s second nature for us to always put more value in the tasks we do rather than the tasks others accomplish.)

-Do the task yourself.

-Find ways to suggest tasks without talking (i.e. there’s no tone of voice when you leave a note).

Don’t Expect Praise or Appreciation

But it feels so good to get gold stars from loved ones, right? Sure it does, but to expect people to praise us or take notice of tasks we decide to do is unrealistic and setting ourselves up for disappointment, says Rubin.

I’m so guilty of this. In fact, I sometimes expect a thank you and then feel disappointed when my husband doesn’t take notice of something I’ve done. (Now that I’m thinking about this I realize how selfish that makes me.) Rubin recommends telling yourself when you’re knee-deep tackling a task, “I’m doing this for myself. This is what I want.”

Fight Right

“It takes at least five positive marital actions to offset one critical or destructive action, so one way to strengthen a marriage is to make sure that the positive far outweighs the negative.”

I thought the title of this sub-section was interesting. Wouldn’t “keep the peace” or “avoid confrontation” be more fitting? I think Rubin’s point is that disagreeing is inevitable, but there are some things we can do to make the discourse productive rather than destructive.

In addition, her research found that how a couple fights matters more than how much they fight. So what does it mean to “fight right?” According to Rubin’s findings:

“Couples who fight right tackle only one difficult topic at a time, instead of indulging in arguments that cover every grievance since the first date. These couples ease into arguments instead of blowing up immediately — and avoid bombs such as ‘you never…’ and ‘you always…’ They know how to bring an argument to an end, instead of keeping it going for hours. They make ‘repair attempts’ by using words or actions to keep bad feelings from escalating. They recognize other pressures imposed on a spouse — a husband acknowledges that his wife feels overwhelmed by the demands of work and home; a wife acknowledges that her husband feels caught between her and his mother.”

No Dumping

No dumping all your insecurities and troubles into your husbands lap so that you feel better. (Which, by the way, Rubin’s research found isn’t true. We don’t actually feel relieved or resolved after verbally purging anger or stress.) Generally speaking, men don’t enjoy having heart-to-heart conversations as much as women do. So be thoughtful (and sometimes restrained) when coming to your hubby with emotional pain, stress and worries. She says while it’s important to share your feelings with your beau, save the long diatribes for your girlfriends.

Give Proofs of Love

“There is no love; there are only proofs of love.” Pierre Reverdy

In other words, Rubin explains, “Whatever love I might feel in my heart, others will see only in my actions.”

Try to think of small treats or courtesies for your hubby. We are often less considerate to the people we hold closest to our hearts, those that we spend the greatest amount of time. Rubin pushed herself to practice “extreme niceness” to her husband. Instead of focusing on the things that annoyed her about him, she pushed herself to concentrate on all the little details she loved about him. She went out of her way to perform small niceties for him. They didn’t have to be huge, just numerous little thoughtful gestures and expressions of caring.

So there you have it my friends. The love tips aren’t mind-blowing or ideas you’ve never heard of before. But I think when put into practice they can have a profound effect on our husbands feeling love from us.

What do you do (or don’t do) to show your husband that you love him? Any tips to add to the list? (I know this list isn’t comprehensive.)

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