10 Ways to Communicate Your Love Beyond Saying "I Love You"

"I love you" is something you tell your husband multiple times a day. But telling him isn't the only way you can or should express your love. You have to show your husband that you love him--and show it in ways he'll truly appreciate.

David A. Bednar has said, "We should remember that saying 'I love you' is only a beginning. We need to say it, we need to mean it, and most importantly, we need to consistently show it. We need to both express and demonstrate love."

Here are 10 ways you can both express and demonstrate the love you have for that handsome husband of yours.

1. Cook his favorite meal.

We all know the quickest way to a man's heart is his stomach--and while you've already won your man's heart, cooking his favorite meal will keep his heart and stomach full. Or instead of his go-to meal, ask him what he wants to eat tonight and make that for dinner instead of that quinoa casserole you had planned.

2. Buy his favorite junk food you don't normally get.

You do most (or all) of the cooking, so naturally you also do the shopping. But next time you're at the store and grab your pint of Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie because you're craving it; think of your man and grab his favorite flavor as well. He'll appreciate the gesture with every sweet bite he takes.

3. Arrange for him to have a guys' night.

Your man works hard, so he deserves a night out with his boys. If your husband is the kind who doesn't normally hang with his friends, organize a guys' night out for him. It's healthy for your marriage for both of you to make time to do stuff with your friends.

4. Hide love notes around the house.

Make a list of everything you love about your husband--from the way his nose crinkles when he laughs to how he reads your daughter the same bedtime story every night. Write each thing down on a sticky note and then hide them throughout the house and his car. They'll be the sweet little love reminders he just might need at that very moment he finds them.

5. Take a night off from work and household chores.

After you put the kids to bed, let the laundry, dishes and those work emails wait until tomorrow. Spend the evening just talking and binge watching your favorite Netflix show together. It's good to put fun and each other first every once in a while.

6. That annoying habit you hate--let it go.

This can be a hard one for many of us. But the next time he leaves the cabinet door open after getting his bowl of cereal, don't nag him about it or turn it into an argument. Just quietly shut the door and go about your day with no mention of it.

7. Let him unwind when he gets home from work.

Don't unload your day's problems or dump the kids on him and leave as soon as he walks in the door, although sometimes you really want to. He needs time to relax and unwind from his long workday, even if it's just five minutes of quiet.

8. Brag about him when he's in earshot.

The next time you're with family or friends and your hubby is around, brag about how awesome, helpful and/or hot he is. It's a good little ego boost for him to hear and know you think he's the most amazing man around, and that you care enough to tell everyone.

9. Don't compare your families.

You may come from two very different families and no one blames you for loving your side of the family a little more than his. But don't compare how his family does extended family gatherings vs. how your family does theirs. And never speak badly of his family. That's his family; they'll always be his family, he'll always love them and they'll always be in your lives, so think twice when you get irritated and feel like verbally criticizing them.

10. Play the "I love you because..." game.

At the end of every week, tell each other three reasons why you love each other. It can be something specific that happened that week or a more general, everyday thing you love. Make this a weekly tradition, and I promise your love and appreciation for one another will grow substantially.

If you want to know for sure your husband will love your extra efforts, ask him to make a list of things you can do for him that would make him feel loved and special. And make your own list to give to him. Then you both can have go-to ways to keep your marriage close through the good and difficult times.

The #1 Secret of Getting Your Spouse to Change

Often during the Save My Marriage Consultations I run, I get asked, "Nicola, how can I get my spouse to change or seek help?"

It is highly likely that when you start on your quest to better your marriage, you are going to run into resistance and that will most likely come from the one person you want to change - your spouse.

You will hear MANY excuses...

"We can fix this on our own"

"It's a waste of money and time."

"We are beyond help."

"Is there a point to it all?"

"I don't feel like it, my heart's not in it."

Or you could sense that your partner is not emotionally interested anymore. They are not willing to put in the effort, or worse, they don't think anything needs to change. They might think everything is ok while you are desperately unhappy with your relationship.

You are not alone in this. I get asked "HOW do I make them change?" so often. I understand your frustration, but you have to listen to the answer so that you can move forward with saving your marriage...here it is!

"YOU DON'T!"

I know what you're thinking, "Why won't they change for me? They know how important it is to me."

It is widely believed that we are resistant to change. But this is not true. We change all the time, especially if we have chosen a new path. If you look closely, it is not change we are resistant to, but human nature to not like change when it is IMPOSED UPON US.

Take a moment to let those words sink in. When we FEEL FORCED or when we feel we are being manipulated into the change, we run a mile. Choose to make a change and we are ready to tackle it head on.

And here is the important part! They have to think change is THEIR idea. They want a great marriage too; no one wants to be miserable or in conflict; they want to change but ONLY if they can initiate it themselves.

Your partner will change when they are good and ready to change and not before. There is nothing you can do to make them. The more you push, the more they will turn away. I understand that you don't want to sit around and do nothing BUT you have to let it be their choice.

I want you to pay attention here! BACK OFF... give your spouse some breathing room and let's focus on YOUR change and how you are going to save your marriage.

So, here is what we ARE going to do... We are going to work on your change and be an inspiring example to your spouse.

"For every positive change you make in your life, something else also changes, for the better -- it creates a chain reaction." - Leon Brown

You are going to focus on making positive changes in your life that will reflect in your marriage and create a chain reaction in your partner. You will show them how your choices make YOU feel about yourself and YOUR marriage.

You will be amazed how quickly they willWANT to join you in making these changes for themselves and then you can BOTH join forces and create a happier, loving marriage together. When they make the choice, it will be ON THEIR TERMS. You are 50% of this equation and you bring 80% of the effort - so you can have a great impact.

Start today, working on being the change you want to see in them. List 3 actions you can take now to turn things around.

From my heart to yours, Nicola

P.S. Struggling in your marriage? Get the FREE report - 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage!

Nicola Beer

Marriage is Give and Take, or Is It?

I used to think marriage was give and take. It's a phrase used in everyday conversation, especially when talking with those who may be dealing with marriage issues. It's a good concept. You give fifty percent into your marriage, and you take fifty percent from your marriage. But if that's your attitude, you won't be happy for long.

I get a lot of feedback on my particular point of view, and most of it sounds something like this:

"Why should I put any effort into my marriage when she never does?"

"This is helpful advice only if the spouse reciprocates as well!"

"Marriage is equal rights-so why should I cater to his needs? What about my needs?"

Yes, those are real comments. They are on the more extreme end, but I think that general idea has been planted in the heart of most relationships. The bottom line is fifty percent just isn't enough. For a happy and fulfilling marriage, you have to give one hundred percent all of the time. You need to focus on giving and giving alone, not taking. And the key for this to work is not to expect anything in return.

Of course it's important for your spouse to also give what they can as well. If that isn't happening, it can lead to a toxic marriage. But when you are giving only to expect, that's where the problem lies. If you feel your spouse isn't doing their part, have a conversation with them. They may be speaking their own love language-one you aren't recognizing as putting forth any effort. Giving one hundred percent will look different for each individual.

One hundred percent will also look different each day. For example, one day I made my husband's favorite dinner, sent him flirty texts, and picked up his dry cleaning. The next day I felt drained and could barely whip up some mac and cheese for my kids. I gave my husband my best, and as always, he made up the rest.

Marriage isn't about give and take. Taking implies the expectancy. Marriage, at least a happy one, is give and receive.

Make Mine Happy

Books that I Wish Every Couple Would Read

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Last weekend I went to the wedding reception of my best friend's little sister. Being me, I always purchase wedding and bridal shower gifts with a specific goal in mind. I try to gift the happy couple with something that will contribute to a strong and happy marriage relationship. Kitchen gadgets, bathroom towels and pillows are all great gifts, but I like to give date night ideas or in this case, one of my very favorite books.

I always wish that I could buy each of these books and gift them in a bundle to every couple in my life, but unfortunately, I'm not made of money. Two of the books are more for parents so they may be better gifted at a baby shower, but I'm including them in this list anyway. 

If I had to pick a favorite, The Five Love Languages would probably be it. I took the quiz years ago but never read the book until it was required for one of the classes I took for my major the semester after we got married, I've read it every year since and each time I read it, I take the test again because my love languages have shifted over the years. Along with reading this book, I would share three suggestions for making the most of the love languages in your marriage.

  1. Learn your love languages. Take the quiz with your spouse. it makes a great date night activity, and take note of what each of your languages is. 
  2. Speak your spouse's language. At the beginning of every week, think of one thing that you can do in the coming week to let your spouse know you love them in the love language that they recognize.
  3. Be aware of when your spouse is speaking to you in their language. It's always nice when your spouse takes the time do something that makes you feel loved. However, if you keep their language in mind, you'll find more moments when they are showing love to you in their own language.

This is a book that I started one summer and never finished but recently picked up again. It is so good and was a real eye opener to me. There are a lot of different ways that boundaries can help your marriage, some that I wasn't expecting. This book is a great one for couples who are preparing for marriage, but can make a difference for couples in every stage of their marriage. Click here to read my full review and thoughts on the book.

The authors of this book, Tony and Alisa DiLorenzo, are the voices behind one of my favorite podcasts, One Extraordinary Marriage. They share my same passion for helping couples make their marriage a priority. I love this book because it provides couples with a lot of unique questions on a lot of different topics. We went through some of them on a long drive one day and truly learned a lot about each other. Click here to read more about my experience with the book.

I love, love, LOVE this book! I'm a big fan of traditions and rituals and believe that they help couples and families connect. Rituals add meaning to regular routines and give you something to look forward to. This book has ideas for making any moment special, both simple and extravagant. The important thing to remember is that every ritual and every tradition should have a purpose in your family. Don't adopt one just because it sounds fun or because your neighbor does it. Make each tradition meaningful, whether it solves a problem (ie bedtime rituals), carries on the family legacy (ie making your grandma's cookies for Christmas every year) or creates moments for you to bond (ie going on a walk every night after dinner).

This is our personal favorite finance book, but there are a lot of other great ones out there for married couples if you look. I think every couple should have a guide to prompt them to have all of the important financial discussions and keep the line of communication open when it comes to money. We listened to this on our drive back from Disneyland four years ago and are getting ready to start it again. We love the motivation that we have to conquer or financial challenges and make our goals a reality after reading this book.

This was another book that I read for one of my college courses, coincidentally the semester after I had Bensen. I loved the logic behind the parenting approach and how it helps parents raise responsible adults. We discovered the early years version when Bensen was about a year old and use its simple concepts to help with what people assume has to be stereotypical toddler behavior. It is my favorite parenting book the way that The Five Love Languages is my favorite marriage book.

I will continue to recommend every one of these books to couples that I cross path with. They have made a difference in my marriage and I know that they'll make a difference in other marriage relationships as well!

I'd love to hear what some of your favorite marriage and/or parenting books are. Are there any that you'd add to this list or any that have been gifted to you? Share them with me in the comments below!

10 Ways to Connect with Your Spouse in 10 Minutes or Less

Earlier this month, my friend Brooke wrote this great post with ways to bond with your toddler in five minutes or less. Since then, Bensen and I have taken quite a few walks to the mailbox together. Our mailbox is three houses away so it's a fun little adventure and he runs to the front door excitedly every time I ask if he wants to go check the mail. A few days after reading Brooke's post, I had an idea and asked her if she would mind if I used her post as inspiration for a similar post about marriage.

Life with two little ones has been a crazy, chaotic adventure and one that hasn't left as much time for Joe and I to spend working on our relationship with each other as we're used to. As with every other stage in our lives, we've made adjustments and are making room in our schedules for our marriage. Not only is it different having two kids who are different ages and have slightly different schedules and routines, but it is also different having a preemie who we can't take out in public with us. We're no longer working to balance our time between home and the hospital, but some days it feels like our family is still divided when half of us are able to go to an event and the other half stays home.

I know that our time together will shift as our babies get older, but I also know that time will never slow down and life will always be busy. Finding ways to build my relationship with my husband and my kids every day, no matter what my schedule looks like, is important to me. So I sat down the other day and wrote down a list of ways that I can connect with Joe on the days when we're only able to spend a few minutes together between sleep, work, feedings and our other responsibilities. Because I know there are other couples in similar situations that leave them with only a little bit of time together each day, I thought I'd share that list with all of you.

Connect with your spouse in just a few short minutes a day!

Share a drink

Drinking is something that seems to be a social activity. I don't drink alcoholic beverages or coffee, but going out for a drink together seems to be a popular date night activity. Enjoy your drink of choice together, whether it is alcoholic, an ice cold soda or something warm like tea, cider or hot chocolate. Meet somewhere after work, go on a Saturday or send one spouse out to get drinks while the other gets the kiddos to bed, then enjoy your drinks on the porch or somewhere cozy in your home.

Play with your kids together

It's not quality alone time, but I promise by the end you will feel more connected as a couple. A couple of Sundays ago, I left the dinner mess for a couple of hours while Joe and I spent some time playing with Bensen. It was a lot of fun and we made a lot of fun memories, plus I know that Bensen really appreciated the time that we spent with him.

Read a chapter from a book

Every night before bed we sit down and watch a episode of our current Netflix favorite while I feed Emmy. A few nights a week, I would like to start reading and discussing a chapter or two from one of the books that we've been meaning to read together. Our little stack of "to read"s currently includes this book and this book. I am also always a fan of couples reading this book together. And for a little fiction fun, we've been meaning to listen to these books on tape because Joe hasn't read them all yet.

Wash the dishes

I'll be honest, this is something that you'll never see Joe and I doing. Dishes are at the top of both of our "least favorite chore" lists. This is something that I've seen my parents do. Take something that needs to be done and turn it into an opportunity to connect. One of you can wash and rinse the dishes and the other can dry and put the dishes away. It's a task that doesn't take a lot of thinking so you can spend the time talking and enjoying each other's company

Cook together

Everyone has to eat and in order to eat, you have to make food. Dinner time is about when Bensen starts to want a lot more of my attention, even if we've just been playing together, so I usually rely on Joe to keep him occupied while I cook. If I'm home by myself, I'll get the coloring book and crayons and put Bensen in his chair at the table and he's content to color while I cook. If I do that on a night when Joe is home, he can talk to me while I make dinner or we can strengthen our teamwork skills and prepare the meal together.

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Dance to your song

After the kids are in bed and the dishes are done, pull up your wedding song, or any love song that fits your relationship, and dance together. I always picture dimmed kitchen lights and a couple dancing around the island and the kitchen table. We also have nice sized open space in our front room that is perfect for dancing, both with my husband and with my kids.

Sit and cuddle

Don't do anything but cuddle, hold hands and talk. Don't look at your phones, don't watch TV, just enjoy being together. You could purchase a big fluffy blanket like this one and dub it the "cuddle blanket", reserved for those moments when you want to connect and hang out. If you have a fire to sit in front of while you cuddle, that's even better.

Watch YouTube videos

This may be similar to watching Netflix together, but it's still fun. It can be a great way to wind down at the end of the night and take anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes depending on the length of the video(s) you watch. We look forward to getting e-mails from The Piano Guys saying that they've released a new video and we always wait to watch them together. We also like most videos on this YouTube channel.

Look at wedding pictures

After we got married, I printed all of our engagement, bridal and wedding pictures and put them in an album. Bensen constantly asks to look at it and he'll flip through every single page and look at each picture, Whether you have all of your pictures printed out or if they're in an album on the computer, sit down together to talk about and remember the moments behind the images. I've also put together a book for each year of our marriage filled with pictures and stories of memories that we made. We love to look through those together every once and a while.

Enjoy a treat together

Whip something up for the two of you to eat. Share a milkshake, make these skillet cookies, run to the store and grab each of your favorite candy bars. I've even seen desserts for two at the store both in the bakery and by the frozen foods. Set aside any distractions and enjoy the time that you have to spend with each other while you satisfy your sweet tooth. If you're not a big fan of sugar, you could make some nachos or seven layer dip, or grab any savory snack that you both love.

In an ideal world, we'd have plenty of uninterrupted time to spend together. Maybe one day when we the kids are grown and we are retired, we will have that kind of life. But for now, we're going to make the most of every moment that we do have to spend together, whether it's only ten minutes at the end of the day or an entire evening away from the kids.

What do you do to connect with your spouse each day?