Tag Archives: acts of love

How Can Beauty Save Your Marriage and The World?

daisy by Simon Howden freedigitalpics.netThe famous quote in a Dostoevsky novel that “Beauty will save the world” sounds somehow superficial in today’s society. But I think it’s true. “What kind of beauty?” the characters ask, and the answer seems to be beauty in action, beauty carried out by a person.

In light of the violence, ugliness and evil that seem more prevalent in our society—although I realize they have been with us all along—my mind returns to the idea that beauty can save the world. Maybe beauty can save the family, maybe even your family.

Acts of love are some of the most beautiful and inspiring “things of beauty” that we have to offer this world. I can’t count how many times people shared the photograph of the New York City police officer last month buying shoes and socks for the homeless man who had bare feet. It was an act of kindness; this is beauty in action. We want to be touched. We want to see love in the world.

Instead of looking to our spouse and wondering, “What have you done for me lately?” it would be great if we will instead ask, “What act of beauty and love can I do for my spouse today?” You might even ask, “What act of beauty can we do together for the world today?”

These acts have transformative powers. Not only do you fill another person with love, you transform yourself into a more love-filled person.

Yes, I believe beauty can change the world.

While we don’t want to be in pursuit of materialism, physical beauty can also help transform us. When we watch the sunrise or sunset, or bring home a bouquet of flowers, when we appreciate the beauty of the human body, when we savor beautiful food, read a treasured book, or take in a beautiful work of art, we are uplifted. Even the beauty of music can change our moods almost instantly.

When we find true joy in our faith, when we find intimacy in our relationships, we find beauty.

I don’t want to list a bunch of ideas for how you can carry out acts of love, because you will see the opportunities around you each day if you are not distracted by the “noise” of life, if you are not staring at your smart phone or filling moments of quiet with TV or other media, if you are open to the idea of seeing beauty and wanting to add to it. But please try to find time and energy to bring love and beauty to those in your family, particularly your spouse.

Efficiency won’t change the world. Multitasking won’t change the world. Ever-increasing busy-ness won’t change the world. Yet, as we wrap up 2012, these are constants. When will we seek the quiet moments?

Love in action can be the beauty that saves us.

What is an act of love or a thing of beauty that has caught you in your tracks lately? For me, it has been all the people helping victims in Newtown, CT, and covering them with love.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Simon Howden courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Best Posts of 2011

I encourage you to read Best Marriage Quotes of 2011 from Sheila Wray Gregoire of To Love, Honor & Vaccuum. She pulls insightful quotes and 50 of the best links on the topics of perspective, sex, commitment, acceptance, and marriage tips.  While you are there, you may want to check out her other articles. This site is very helpful, particularly for women who want to improve the intimacy and sexual quality in their marriage.

One of the quotes Sheila mentioned also struck me as very important: “What you do EVERY DAY matters much more than what do ONCE IN A WHILE.” This is from an interesting post at Simple Marriage offering The Secrets of Marriage.

For those of you inclined to set goals, make changes or resolutions for 2012, it’s great to keep this point in mind that it is daily actions that matter most to our marital happiness and our overall happiness. While it’s great to plan an annual family vacation or a monthly chat with a friend, these may not be enough of a stress reliever to deal with the everyday problems we face. On the other hand, if we can adopt (or increase in frequency) some behaviors that help us on a daily basis, we may have a happier year. Think of SMALL, DOABLE actions you can do daily to benefit your marriage this year.

Many of us don’t need to revamp our lives or change our entire lifestyle. But by finding small ways to improve our day, to encourage each other, to reduce stress and to show gratitude and joy, we can make a big difference in an entire year. For example, maybe you can discuss an ideal greeting for each other when you meet at the end of each day–making time for a real hug and kiss. Or perhaps you can share a cup of coffee in the morning or carve out a few minutes daily to connect.

The most popular blog post from Marriage Gems for 2011 was: Why are women less happy then men in marriage? This was an interesting discussion, and you can still add your opinion.

I want to wish you and your family a fabulous year ahead full of love and good health.

If one of your goals for 2012 is to give your relationship a shot of inspiration, I hope you will consider purchasing my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage , which tells the stories of a dozen amazing couples who used adversity to improve their marriage. Go here for links to Amazon print version or e-books for Kindle, iTunes, Sony, Nook or PDF. If you’ve already bought the book, don’t forget to email me for your 7 free marriage improvement gifts, including everything from an e-book to improve your sex life to date night suggestions, an iPhone app with daily marriage tips, a marriage refresher workbook, a video to hone your communication skills, and tips for how to connect on a daily basis with your spouse in just 15 minutes a day.

Photo by Salvatore Vuono courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Celebrate good times with spouse to strengthen your bond

Tough times don’t necessarily bring a couple closer, but the way you celebrate big and small successes can strengthen your bond. A study by the University of California-Santa Barbara, reported in this January’s Redbook that couples who celebrate together–everything from completing a home project to earning a promotion or reaching a small goal–have the happiest, most trusting, and most committed relationships.

“When your partner receives bad news, the best you can do is try to ease his pain,” says the study’s lead author Shelly Gable, PhD. “But when you share in his excitement, it boosts happiness becasue he feels like his joy is yours too.”

While you should try to be supportive during the bad times, look for small successes to celebrate in your day or in your week. Celebrate even movement toward a goal, and especially accomplishment of a goal. Friends have a way of enthusiastically supporting one another, but sometimes with a spouse it is easier to become mundane about hearing the minutia of their day or the mini-steps toward their professional or personal goals. Instead, listen for things you can celebrate together. Make a toast. Cook a special dinner. Give a big hug. Mail a card. Send an email. Plan a date. But don’t let the sun go down before cheering on your sweetie.

Speaking of things to celebrate as we enter 2010, I’m happy to report more than 1,300 readers visited LifeGems4Marriage in December and approximately 8,000 people visited the blog since its inception. Thanks for reading and for helping me celebrate what marriage can be.

Happy new year! Don’t forget to read 10 tips for making 2010 less busy and more productive.

Who will Make the First Move?

Continuing from our last post about not keeping score in your marriage, there is often an internal debate with husbands and wives that if she would only stop nagging him, he would fulfill her every need, and visa versa. Are you waiting for your spouse to change before you are willing to do your part? Then once you do your part, are you only willing to continue if you see your spouse adjust accordingly?

No one should tolerate an abusive spouse, but if you are regularly focusing on perceived faults of your spouse or personality failures (how they “should be” or how they “should act”), you are not really valuing them as a person along with the attributes they have been given. Remember, if you don’t build up your spouse, who will? If they fail and you aren’t there to help them through a crisis, who will? (In fact, a crisis is a wonderful opportunity to solidify your marriage and what you truly stand for. This is why I have interviewed so many successful couples who have been through extremely difficult circumstances.)

Since wives are prone to nagging, try to be the sweet voice your husband longs to come home to, the one who praises his strengths and encourages his dreams. Make him miss you the minute he backs out of the driveway. Husbands, keep your focus and priority on your wife. Be aware of her needs. Praise her beauty and her skill. Listen to her concerns. Be affectionate. Put your computer and phone down when she’s sharing her day or her struggles.

Put effort into your marriage, not monthly but daily. Forgive when you’ve had a bumpy day and try again tomorrow. Work together through adversity. If these acts seem too difficult given your current conflicts, it’s time to see a marriage counselor.

Share the small actions you or your spouse take that make a big difference in your relationship.

Choose to Love

The movie, Fireproof, leads a disastrous marriage down a triumphant path through a series of selfless acts, which are detailed in the spinoff book, The Love Dare. The husband’s father dares him to perform specific acts of love for a period of time rather than give up on his marriage, which appears to be doomed. The perspective being offered is that it only takes one person making small changes with a loving heart to improve a marriage dramatically. If spouses are focused on the faults of the other person, they miss the point.

Even if your marriage is not on thin ice like the couple’s in the movie, give some thought to whether or not you frequently keep score in your head, i.e. I did that nice thing, now it’s his turn. Or, I always plan vacations and don’t feel appreciated, so I’m not doing it anymore. I once had a friend who kept score of how many chores she and her husband each performed; they are now divorced.

When an unsatisfied store customer asks to see the manager, imagine if the manager argued back that the customer was wrong. The store would lose sales. But when the manager apologizes and meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations, the customer will likely maintain the relationship with the store. The next time your spouse issues a complaint, instead of becoming defensive, try to act like the manager and listen to your spouse to see if you can resolve the issue. And the next time you want to blurt out something nasty or critical to your spouse, think about whether you could say it in a nicer way—or hold your tongue.

Given how busy we all are with work, church, school, homes and children, it’s almost unfair that you are asked to make time to do even small, loving acts for your spouse. If your relationship is like most couples, its priority level has been pushed down a few notches. Realize that you are not just doing it for your spouse, but for yourself and your children, and as an investment in your future. I’ve found in my personal experience and in my interviews with successful couples, feelings follow actions. So, if you’re just not feeling the love today, do it anyway! Choose to behave lovingly, and your feelings will follow. Your spouse may take notice, but even if he or she doesn’t, choose loving actions anyway.

One of my interviewees (who has overcome an addiction and his wife’s life-threatening illness) says he realized it’s the small things that please his wife, like saying something nice in an e-mail. “It’s nothing extraordinary like leaving a trail of petals to the bedroom filled with a thousand candles. We let each other know we’re thinking of the other and that we really care,” he says.

Brainstorm 5 things you could do in less than 10 minutes. Then act on one thing. Do you believe one person can begin to change a marriage, or does it take two?

For information about Fireproof the movie or The Love Dare, visit: http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/resources/.