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Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Marriage: A Man's Guide

Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Marriage: A Man's Guide

It's all in the small daily actions and interactions that say "You matter to me."


Presumably everyone wants to keep the spark alive in their marriage. Some people may believe it's not possible. Some people may have given up. Some people may just not know how. But everyone wants it.

So what's a well-meaning husband to do? The answer is not to whisk your wife away to a private island for a romantic weekend (although that couldn't hurt). The answer is not to follow the dictates of the advertising industry and drape her in diamonds (although that couldn't hurt either).

The answer lies in small daily actions and interactions that say "I care," "You matter to me," "Your needs and goals and important to me."

There is definitely a place for romantic gestures -- flowers, dinner out, a walk along the beach (the latter having the advantage of being both romantic and free!). But the spark is really kept alive through the ins and outs of your everyday relationship -- through easing your wife's burden, by not taking her for granted, by letting her know how special she is -- and how beautiful.

The spark is kept alive by easing your wife's burden and letting her know how special she is -- and how beautiful.

We may mistakenly think that with a houseful of kids, with carpools to drive and mortgages to pay, there is no room for sparks. But this is, fortunately, not true.

While it is true that there is no room for the spoony daydreaming of the newly infatuated (and even they usually have to spend some time working so they can pay the rent!), that is not the only evidence of sparks.

The excitement in a relationship is kept alive through caring about one another, through being interested in one another and through the actions that show it.

When a tired husband takes the time to listen to the details of his wife's day (number of diapers changed and all), the sparks are rekindled. When he patiently describes his own day just because she wants to know (and even though he'd rather forget about it), the flame is kept burning. When he takes out the garbage because it bothers her, when he watches the kids and says, "You go rest" or better yet, "You go shopping," the embers continue to glow.

Every expression of love and caring keeps the sparks alive. None are too trivial to hold back from saying, and don't be stingy with them. Every time you tell your wife you love her, the flame of your marriage burns brighter.

We get confused; we think we need a Hollywood set, designer gowns and sparkling conversation. We look for the perfect setting, the cloudless sky, the moonlit evening.

But believe it or not, sparks can be kindled in the chaos of your family room -- in the shared pleasure of your family (even sometimes in the shared frustration), in the shared sense of goals, in the shared creation.

The fire sizzles every time a man tells his wife how much he appreciates who she is, what she has done, and yes, how attractive she is to him. Don't think your wife doesn't need hear that; everyone does. No matter how "spiritual" she is.

Jewelry is beautiful but these grand gestures can only occur on rare and special occasions (which, in this economy, seem to be even rarer and more special!). But daily life offers plenty of opportunities to keep your marriage vibrant, opportunities that don't take a lot of time but may involve the effort of refocusing, of stepping outside our owns needs and desires, of ignoring everyone and everything else that clamors for your attention.

Start with the simple gestures. Every morning, every afternoon, stop what you're doing (yes, your job can wait a few minutes; no you won't lose that deal!), call your wife and say "I love you," "Thank you for everything you do for me." I promise you, the sparks will stay alive.

Click here to read The Woman's Guide to Keeping the Spark Alive in Your Marriage.

February 14, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 25

(22) Anonymous, October 18, 2013 3:16 AM

Tell your wife she is great and awesome.Take time for the small & large compliments. Don't take her for granted.
Tell her she is beautiful so she won't go looking to hear it from a neighbor a coworker or a therapist. You never know when another man would be very happy to tell your wife these things.

(21) Ammi, November 8, 2011 1:38 PM

All these thngs are good, however, if a wife lives in a home where HaShem is NOT put first, rather 3rd, 4th or 5th, but addictions to the TV, cigarettes, sports, job - all take precedent over all - even if he does these things - she will not be fulfilled. Take it from one who knows. Not only "a woman who fears the Lord...", but a man also...

(20) Anonymous, September 6, 2011 4:40 PM

Why don't you focus on older married couples?

Your advice should cover a broad age range of married couples, including empty nesters who've grown apart over time because of the demands of work, child rearing, and aging parents. How do you keep the flame burning and stay positive. Any advice to those who feel burnt out, but wish to rekindle?

(19) misha, March 1, 2011 10:57 PM

Great advice but...

The above is all sound advice however the author is implying that women who receive this treatment are always fair and reciprocate in kind. Well…Some women DO take us husbands for granted and are not necessarily fair, affectionate and appreciative. In this age of feminism, many women grow up thinking that in relationships its all about them and that we men are to be controlled and reeducated to their rules. They have been told to love their “bad boy” (loser) and when they get tired of the drama or bored then there will be the useful idiot (nice guy) for them. Also feminism has embedded in their psyche that any male assertiveness is perceived as "abuse' or being "controlling". Especially when it comes to disciplining the children. The myths of a "patriarchal" society have taken its toll. Much needs to be understood about simple attitudes of gratitude in order for relationships on any level can flourish. Spoiled, self righteous and/or demanding women don't change once their situation does (no more than we men) so it’s about having the Hachmah (wisdom) to improve our Torah consciousness which will help us see AND treat others for the good. Meaning: imbalance is never right. Spouses who don’t receive properly and thus can’t give set a bad example for kids and demoralize their relationships. Without HaShem (it always comes down to Him) reforming/protecting us daily these unrequited kindnesses can become a form of abuse. One of the worst things in the world is to try hard to please and have it taken with a grain of salt. I know -my wife has made an art out of trivializing my gestures of love and attention which is discouraging. That in itself is of emotional abuse which not only happens to women. Contrary to feminist propaganda, women can (and have) dished this out with just as much selfishness and unfairness as anyone.

(18) Anonymous, February 23, 2009 4:51 AM

Dear Rabbi, Sir and / or Madam, I read your article about putting the spark back into your marriage. As I am a super romantic, I would love to share my ‘secrets’ for an extremely happy marriage. We both aim to please each other, and by doing that, it does not matter ,if we do or don’t like doing things we dislike, because the end result is that we are pleasing each other. The things which do not cost time or hardly any money are: cutting out a small heart and place it on your spouses pillow, on or under his or her plate at the table. Draw a heart on a mirror. Put a note in his/ her lunch box, which says: I love you or I appreciate your company. Just a 10 second phone call to say: I do not have time to talk, but I just want to let you know that I love you, bye, or I do not have time to talk, but just to let you know: thinking of you. When one comes home: stare in her/ his eyes for 15 seconds in silence and then say: nice to see you. Gently touch her/ his arm and say: that is because I love to stay in touch with you. Buy specific chocolates: caramel, because it is the sweetest I could find, cherry ripe, because ‘I cherish you’ (pun intended) mint because that is your favourite and you are mine. Count the days you are married and if it seems to be insignificant, make a celebration of that day, because every day with you is special and I do not take you for granted. Interrupt your partner in the middle of a sentence and say: I love you, sorry I got distracted by that thought. You are just great. Buy streamers in 6 different colours and lay them on your made up bed in the shape of a heart. Buy a tiara (little crown) in the $2 shop as a toy for little girls and put it on the pillow of your wifes bed. She is your princess. I am sure that there are many other ways of expressing love. It has worked for me. We are the happiest married people in the world and married 8635 days and still going strong. Most of true love making is done anywhere but the traditional spots. A table and 2 chairs and a good conversation and talking about each other nicely and with pride, does wonders for one’s feelings of warmth for each other. I guess this is enough for today. If you can spread any of my suggestions to anybody who needs more love in their life, please go ahead.

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