Marriage can be a struggle, even under the best of circumstances. It requires time and energy, both of which run low when your child is undergoing cancer treatment.
During the 3 years of our son’s treatment for leukemia, my husband and I came to the scary realization that this could be a “make-it or break-it” situation for our relationship.
Putting Your Relationship First
Spending time on “us” felt selfish in the midst of everything our kids were going through. But the unavoidable truth was that our relationship—and whether it survived or not—would have a tremendous impact on our children’s young lives.
So, we pushed aside the guilt and did our best to make our marriage—and each other—a priority. As we did, we were shocked to discover one thing: Many of our fights boiled down to our failure to make each other feel loved and appreciated.
Here are 4 things we did to show each other more love and appreciation.
1. Figure It Out.
We realized we were doing things for one another that would make us feel loved, but it wasn’t necessarily what would make the other person feel loved.
So, we had to be honest with ourselves and with each other. Even though it felt slightly awkward, we both did our best to finish these sentences: “When you _____, I feel like you love me,” and “It makes me feel appreciated when you _____.”
2. Do It.
Then, we had to make a conscious effort to actually do the things that made the other person feel loved. This sounds simple enough, but it was the hardest part.
However, we knew our family—and our relationship—needed to be strong if we were going to survive.
3. Point It Out.
We learned the hard way that even when you are doing exactly what the other person wants, sometimes they don’t notice. This can lead to a lot of resentment and frustration, plus the missed opportunity to see how much you are loved.
So, we decided to simply point out when we did something nice for each other. No hard feelings, just an understanding that we were both under a lot of stress and needed all the help we could get.
It turned out to be a very important part of the process of building a stronger marriage.
4. Be Grateful.
When someone is grateful, you just naturally want to keep trying. We learned how important it was to be grateful for each other’s efforts. Gratitude can completely change the tone of a relationship.
My husband and I have been married for 12 years, and we still have a lot to learn. But making our relationship a priority has been good for us, and it has been good for our kids, too.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.