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Saturday, November 27, 2010
In the next few weeks we’ll be wrapping up the marriage small group that my lovely wife and I have been leading. It’s been great fun, and we’ve learned a lot by working through each of the twelve marriage principles that formed the basis for our weekly discussions. As part of most weekly lessons, we developed some simple, practical exercises meant to prompt action and discussion around the week’s topic. I thought I’d post a few of these exercises here in an attempt to answer the call for more practical, actionable marriage suggestions.

Yes, I just spent most of the last few posts (part 1 here and part 2 here) explaining why it is more important to think the right way about your marriage and your role in it than it is to just do the things that someone else prescribes. But I thought sharing these exercises might spur you on to some thoughtful action. Almost all the exercises are open ended and designed to get you to think about your marriage and your spouse anyway. You won’t find a lot of “just do this” in the exercises.

The first joint exercise is actually something I posted way back here. It is designed to answer two questions. The first one is, “Does your spouse really know what you love about him or her?” The second one is, “Do you know what your spouse loves about you?” If you didn’t do it yet I strongly suggest you take the time to do it now. It can be very revealing.

The other exercise is one I’ll call the “Little Love List.” The idea is this:
  • Make a list of 10 “little things” that you know your spouse appreciates as a gesture of love.
  • By little things, I mean it shouldn’t be anything that requires major planning, expense or extraordinary effort.
  • It may be something to which he or she has responded to positively in the past or something they have expressed as a wish. The idea is to think in terms of what love expressions mean the most to them. It may not be anything that floats your boat, but your boat isn’t the point.
  • Over the next ten days, make it a point to do one little love expression each day. You don’t have to make a religion out of it. Be flexible as you need to be. The main thing is to do it consistently over a period of time.
  • Plan these things into your to do list or your daily routine. Making a deliberate attempt to show love to your husband or wife not only shows them your love in their terms, but it also gets you into the habit of thinking of ways to bless your spouse..
There’s a follow up part to the exercise we did that is also helpful. (We did it as part of the next week’s exercises). At the end of the ten days, or however long it takes you to work through your list, show your spouse the list and let them give you some feedback on it. Did you put some things on the list that really don’t say “I love you” to them? Are there some little love expressions that would see as more suitable? Use the feedback to improve your list and keep it handy. Pull it out periodically, and do something on the list.

If you do the exercise, stop by and let us know how it went for you. I’d love to hear your stories about what you learned from the exercise.


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