Staying in Like
by Steve & Annie Chapman
ANNIE: People get married because they love each other. But I believe they stay married because they like each other. And because I believe this, I’m a great crusader for falling in like, and staying in like with your spouse.
My penchant to promote “like” in marriage may never result in songs that make the Top 20, simply because it’s so difficult to rhyme. Look at love. You can pair it up with sticky sentiments like “my turtle dove” and “the stars above.” Unfortunately, “like” rhymes only with expressions like “take a hike.” Hardly the sentiments passionate ballads are made of.
But liking has a wonderful thing going for it: Partners who like each other have a relationship founded on respect—respect for their mate and for themselves as well. When respect, and the “liking” it fosters, flourishes in a marriage, you can bet the relationship rests on very solid ground.
If you want a marriage of long-term like, the key is to make sure you are likable. To help you see the truth in this, consider the type of person you would prefer as a friend. Don’t you look for someone who’s pleasant, inspiring and enjoyable to be with? Personally, I don’t tend to stay in long-term friendships with people who are always negative, or boring, or unhappy, and I shouldn’t expect Steve to, either. Because his character is influenced mainly by his commitment to Christ and because I know he loves me, I believe Steve will never abandon me. Still, I want to do what I can to help make his “staying” as satisfying and rewarding for him as possible. I don’t want to be just his wife; I want to be someone he’d willingly choose as a good friend, even if we weren’t married. In short, I want to be someone he likes.
Through our years of being “in like” we’ve discovered three doable actions that help each of us maintain likability.
-Tell your spouse about their strengths and how they bless you and tell others about them as well. When you brag on your spouse to them, it helps them feel better about themselves. When you brag to others about them it helps them feel even better about you.
-Thank your spouse for the big and little things they do for you. While flowers, cards and candy are nice tokens of gratitude, it’s hard to beat the value and effectiveness of simply saying the words. Sometimes, for example, Steve will yell from our bedroom as he gets ready for the day, “Thank you for the clean clothes!” I can’t fully describe how much I appreciate his recognition of the work I do. To hear his sincere, “Thank you,” is to like, and love, him even more.
-Surprise your mate with acts of service he or she doesn’t expect. We’ve found that the possibilities are endless. Making my special peach cobbler for him on a night when no guests are coming always gets his satisfied smile. Coming home from the grocery store and finding Steve pulling weeds out my flower garden is a winner for me. The truth is, you don’t have to think long at all about what unexpected act of service would bless your spouse. Why not give it a try right now…and then go do it. You’ll enjoy “falling in like” all over again!
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