Dear Rosie & Sherry,
Now that she has accepted my vow of marriage, what do I do to deepen her love for me?
First of all -- Mazal Tov!
Every couple who decides to marry hopes their love will grow over time. This is one of the great rewards of marriage, but it doesn't come about magically. Loving marriages require continual effort.
Expect to work hard. Particularly, the first several months of marriage challenge every couple. No matter how well we think we know the person we marry, nothing prepares us for 24-hour-a-day immersion into someone else's life. Each husband and wife should develop the following "couple skills" so that their marriage blossoms into a long, stable and loving life together.
- Communication, developing a style that allows each of you to communicate information -- e.g. day-to-day experiences, problems and concerns -- and requires each of you to listen to and "hear" what your spouse has to say.
- Intuition. Husbands and wives learn to "read" each other's mannerisms, moods, personal style and needs for space, independence, comfort and emotional support.
- Flexibility. Newlyweds occasionally need to remind themselves that they are now a couple, rather than two individuals living together, as they learn to adapt to someone whose every move is so different from their own.
- Problem-solving. Since couples inevitably disagree, they both must learn how to argue constructively so that they can resolve disagreements through discussion and compromise.
And then there's what the Western world calls romance. Romance is even more important after marriage than it was during courtship. Married couples should never stop "dating" each other, no matter how crowded their schedules. Once a week or so, go out together -- without your children. This can be something as inexpensive as a picnic, afternoon at the zoo, or movie and coffee afterward. Limit your conversations to the same sort of subjects you spoke of when you were dating, and stay away from "heavy" topics like finances, child-rearing, and work problems. This time together is refreshing and reminds you both that you got together in the first place because you enjoy each other's company.
Another important element is thoughtful gestures that show you are tuned in to what is going on in your spouse’s thoughts. Everyone goes through periods of over-work, stress, worry and feelings of being taken-for-granted. Both of you should get into the habit of simply saying, “thank you,” expressing concern for your spouse’s troubles, and making small but kind gestures such as offering to take over an evening’s household chores.
Also include "material" gestures that say, "I'm thinking of you", such as a card, flowers, a gift-certificate for a manicure, tickets to a sports event, or a coveted book, gadget, perfume, sports equipment or jewelry.
Indeed, marriage is hard work. But you're gonna love it!