Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

Not too long ago my husband and I attended a marriage conference. Well, to be more precise, some bribing and coercion may have been involved in getting the hubbers there. He was concerned that the sessions would involve us sharing feelings and divulging deep thoughts. (I have no idea why that would scare a man away. No clue.)

I don’t remember much from our two days at the conference. Except for one “exercise”: the 20-second hug. Couples were asked to hold each other in silence for twenty seconds. Twenty seconds. Like that’s going to make a difference in a decade-long marriage. Turns out, I should really shush my inner critic. After 11 years of marriage, I discovered that all it took was a longish hug to turn me into butter. I just about melted in my man’s arms. Sure, we give each other hugs all the time. But this was quiet and intentional and made everything all better. It was a sweet moment in our marriage – and it’s going to stay with me a long time.

When we talk about marriage, we usually dwell on the big stuff. But little things make a huge difference. Don’t take my word for it. I have it on good authority from none other than Winnie the Pooh (via A.A. Milne). “Sometimes,” says Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

Small things like kindness. Kindness is a hugely underrated quality in marriage. Remember when you made a mental checklist of qualities to look for in a potential husband? I bet “sense of humor” beat “kindness” by a mile. Fast forward to your reality today: When your four-year-old is throwing up like she was out at a frat party all night, I doubt you need a joke. During a 2 a.m. crisis, you need a helpful, albeit sleepy, spouse who is willing to change the sheets.

Studies have shown that kindness breathes life into relationships, even possibly restoring brokenness. What are some ways you can show kindness to your spouse while expecting nothing in return?

  • Two simple words. Thank you. We teach our kids to say it. We’re sure to say it to the stranger who holds the door open or the guy bagging our groceries. But, how often do we take a minute to acknowledge the husband who took the garbage out or unloaded the dishwasher or read the kids bedtime stories after a long day at work? It might seem formal – even unnecessary. You think, “Of course he knows I appreciate him.” But, does he really? It only takes couple of seconds and two words to communicate: I see you and I appreciate you.
  • Ask how you can help. There’s no denying that you’re wiped out. The day has been a blur of diapers and spit-up, teething and tantrums, Goldfish and Cheerios. But, here’s one way of surprising your spouse: ask him if there’s anyway you can help him.  Here are seven words to incorporate into your routine, “How can I make your day better?” Letting him know that the two of you are in this together takes some of the pressure off your relationship.
  • Listen (like you mean it). This one’s hard for me. I ask my man how his day went. And sometime through his description of it, my mind wanders to the fact that I need to add brown sugar to my grocery list. Or, if I’ve RSVP’d to that party invite. Here’s what you and I could do instead: Put away the phone. Make eye contact. Ask questions. Acknowledge that he’s had a hard day too. Celebrate his victories.
  • Plan a date night. When our kids were teeny weeny, we had lots of low-key, low-budget date nights. The husband would take the kids upstairs to put them to bed. I would cook steak on the stove top (Who am I kidding? Sometimes, it was a microwaveable TV dinner), pour us some wine and light a couple candles. I even pulled out a tablecloth and real china on occasion (like he really cared! That was solely for me). Sometimes, that’s all it takes to show you’re investing in him, in both of you as a couple. Date nights in PJs which end with a movie on the couch equals to no pressure, even if one of you (read: you) knocks off after a few sips of vino.
  • Compliment him. It’s his company annual do. The kids are with a babysitter and you’ve taken the effort to shave, pull down the ponytail, slap on some make up and get out of your sweats. You actually feel like a person again (as opposed to mama, or a grizzly in hibernation). But, instead of expecting a “wowza,” how about you extend a compliment? Let him know that he cleans up real good. That he’s still the man. That he’s going to be your arm candy for the evening.

Little acts of kindness could add up to the best gift you can give your children: A strong marriage. Maybe that’s simplistic. But, maybe it’s worth a shot. Like the Greek philosopher Aesop writes in the children’s fable The Lion and the Mouse: “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Susan Narjala

Susan Narjala is a freelance writer who shares her faith with authenticity and humor, and has been published on leading Christian sites. You can find her at susannarjala.com and @susannarjalawrites.

I Thought Our Friendship Would Be Unbreakable

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Two friends selfie

The message notification pinged on my phone. A woman, once one of my best friends, was reaching out to me via Facebook. Her message simply read, “Wanted to catch up and see how life was treating you!”  I had very conflicting feelings. It seemed with that one single message, a flood of memories surfaced. Some held some great moments and laughter. Other memories held disappointment and hurt of a friendship that simply had run its course. Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on her profile page to see how the years had been treating her. She was divorced and still...

Keep Reading

The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

In: Journal, Marriage, Relationships
The First Ten Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking www.herviewfromhome.com

We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash. Meet Single Christians! My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site. We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the...

Keep Reading

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

In: Journal, Motherhood
Toddler sleeping in mother's arms

Tiny sparkles are nestled in the wispy hair falling across her brow, shaken free of the princess costume she pulled over her head this morning. She’s swathed in pink: a satiny pink dress-up bodice, a fluffy, pink, slightly-less-glittery-than-it-was-two-hours-ago tulle skirt, a worn, soft pink baby blanket. She’s slowed long enough to crawl into my lap, blinking heavy eyelids. She’s a little less baby today than she was only yesterday.  Soon, she’ll be too big, too busy for my arms.  But today, I’m rocking a princess. The early years will be filled with exploration and adventure. She’ll climb atop counters and...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

In: Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
Man and woman kissing in love

Dear husband, I loved you first. But often, you get the last of me. I remember you picking me up for our first date. I spent a whole hour getting ready for you. Making sure every hair was in place and my make-up was perfect. When you see me now at the end of the day, the make-up that is left on my face is smeared. My hair is more than likely in a ponytail or some rat’s nest on the top of my head. And my outfit, 100% has someone’s bodily fluids smeared somewhere. But there were days when...

Keep Reading

Stop Being a Butthole Wife

In: Grief, Journal, Marriage, Relationships
Man and woman sit on the end of a dock with arms around each other

Stop being a butthole wife. No, I’m serious. End it.  Let’s start with the laundry angst. I get it, the guy can’t find the hamper. It’s maddening. It’s insanity. Why, why, must he leave piles of clothes scattered, the same way that the toddler does, right? I mean, grow up and help out around here, man. There is no laundry fairy. What if that pile of laundry is a gift in disguise from a God you can’t (yet) see? Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. I was a butthole wife. Until my husband died. The day...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

Love Notes From My Mother in Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Journal, Living
Woman smelling bunch of flowers

Twelve years have passed since my mother exclaimed, “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” as she leaned back in her big donut-shaped tube and splashed her toes, enjoying the serenity of the river.  Twelve years since I stood on the shore of that same river, 45 minutes later, watching to see if the hopeful EMT would be able to revive my mother as she floated toward his outstretched hands. Twelve years ago, I stood alone in my bedroom, weak and trembling, as I opened my mother’s Bible and all the little keepsakes she’d stowed inside tumbled to the floor.  It...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Friendships End, No Matter How Hard You Try

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Sad woman alone without a friend

I tried. We say these words for two reasons. One: for our own justification that we made an effort to complete a task; and two: to admit that we fell short of that task. I wrote those words in an e-mail tonight to a friend I had for nearly 25 years after not speaking to her for eight months. It was the third e-mail I’ve sent over the past few weeks to try to reconcile with a woman who was more of a sister to me at some points than my own biological sister was. It’s sad when we drift...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the House That Built Me

In: Grown Children, Journal, Living, Relationships
Ranch style home as seen from the curb

In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister. I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every...

Keep Reading