Behold, the sunny days of courtship! The man calls or tests several times a day. He opens doors for her, tries to be on time, and takes the long way to take her home each night. In short, he does everything to heap attention on her and make her feel desired and valued.
She takes special care to look nice for him, maybe cooks a special meal, and does everything she can to show that she likes his attention. Eventually all that thoughtfulness leads to a proposal, an acceptance, and marriage. Let the lifelong joys begin!
Over the years this couple begins acting very differently. In a hundred little ways they stop living as though they matter to one another. Without thoughtfulness, they live in separate worlds, only touching each other’s lives when necessary. In some cases they actually avoid each other. Such carelessness is dangerous to any marriage.
Considerate and Aware
Two words help us understand thoughtfulness: consideration and awareness.
Consideration means thinking about how your actions will affect your husband or wife. To use some simple examples, if you leave your soiled clothes scattered around the room, who will pick them up? If you are always late waking up, how will that affect your spouse and your children?
Awareness means looking for ways to make life as easy as possible for your marriage partner. Aware spouses watch for ways to help each other, even little ways. Helpfulness becomes their habit.
It’s very human to become careless, to think about our self, but not about our spouse. But when Jesus makes us new people he puts his life in us. That new life makes us look at others in a new way. Then we want the best for each other, not just for ourselves. “Don’t think only about your own affairs,” Paul says, “but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing. ” (Philippians 2:4, NLT)
Why do we become thoughtless? Consider these two common reasons:
Unresolved anger and unforgiveness
You know the story. Your husband or wife makes you mad. You don’t say anything about it, but you start sending signals. How? You act like your spouse doesn’t matter to you anymore. In a score of little ways, you signal your displeasure. By ignoring and isolating your husband or wife you are trying to punish him or her.
Life gets crazy!
Sure it does, but thoughtfulness proves that we haven’t lost touch with the importance and reality of our marriage. Wise spouses don’t let busyness cause carelessness. Instead they look for ways to make life easier for each other, and they think about how their choices and actions will affect the rest of their family members.
Flowers or Chores?
American children’s entertainer Bob Keeshan said, “Attention is like a daily bouquet of love.” He’s right, to a degree. But thoughtfulness is much more practical than a bouquet of flowers. (Not that flowers are a bad idea, guys!) Sometimes a man who buys flowers uses them as a cover-up for neglecting practical expressions of thoughtfulness. Ask any woman whether she would rather have a husband who buys her flowers or a husband who picks up his dirty laundry, and she will say, “Why should I have to choose? Flowers touch my soul one way, but a man who thinks enough of me to make life easier for me really gets to my heart.”
There is much discussion about different love languages. I guess we all have our own way of understanding if someone loves us. For some it is words; for others it is actions. Still others feel loved through physical touch.
Let me propose something radical to you. Suppose God is great enough to make it possible for us to express love in many ways, not just one or two? If he is that great, then he can help us express and experience the fulfillment of being lovers in many different ways. You can be the lover your spouse needs..
Think, Act, Pray
- If you have lapsed into carelessness, you might need a little booster to activate yourselves. Here’s a way for you to recover that thoughtfulness that you may have lost: ask your spouse what you could do to make life easier for him or her.
- Take a few moments, today, to ask that question of each other. When responding, use this statement: “It would help me if you would. . ” The great thing is that this statement is a request, not a demand. It leaves room for a genuinely thoughtful response. Make your requests reasonable. Unreasonable requests just cause more frustration.