I made my husband late for work today.

As I handed him his egg sandwich on his way to get his shoes on, he told me there was a huge spider that ran behind the oven and I might want to kill it.

“You have to kill it before you go,” I implored.

“I don’t have time, sorry.”

Then he explained how it had caught the corner of his eye when it moved, and at first, he thought it was a mouse.

That did it.

We’ve never had a mouse in the house, but the fact the spider was even comparable to a mouse in any way was enough to elicit dread and panic from me.

So the following conversation ensued:

“You can’t leave me here with a giant spider!”
“I have to go, sorry.”
“You have to kill it!!”
“Fine. I’m going to be late but grab the vacuum cleaner. I’ll pull out the oven and you can suck it up.”
“I don’t want a huge spider living in the vacuum cleaner bag! Here, take my Croc.”

So, my husband saved the day.

He pulled out the oven. He smashed a giant spider. And then he vacuumed up the dust bunnies behind the oven.

At last, he grabbed his breakfast sandwich and a picture our son had drawn for him to put in his office and ran out the door with a, “Love you, too,” trailing after him.

Now, it seems sillyeven insignificant.

Yes, I could have killed the spider. I might have screamed in the process, but I could have done it. I have done it before.

But my husband did the dirty work for me out of love even when it was an inconvenience for him. And because I understood his sacrifice, I felt even more loved when he did it. So I told him how much I appreciated it.

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I wish I could say I have always recognized his efforts. But truthfully, I haven’t always seen past his shortcomings.

I have been quick to want to change this habit and that annoying trait. I have been overly sensitive and only focused on my emotional needs being met. I have questioned his motives for doing this or saying that.

And it has led to even more nitpickiness and even more frustration and discontentment about unmet needs on my part.

The ironic thing is, the more I focused on what was wrong with him and how I should fix him into being the man I wanted, the less willing he was to serve me. Especially, when it was inconvenient for him. As a result, you can imagine the cycle of unhappiness we were in.

It wasn’t even always obvious. Even without a big argument, it was in the little comments or the little complaints. Or it was the sacrifices left unseen or the good things left unsaid.

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As women, we know how much we do for others every day, so it can be hard to remember to seek out the good things about our husbands.

But friends, love is in the little things.

It’s a man who wakes up every day and goes to work for his family.

It’s a father who gets up to check on a sick child and measures out a dose of cough syrup and says, “You’ll be OK, buddy.”

It’s a man who runs to the store at the last minute when you are missing the chili powder for the chili you’re cooking for dinner that night. Or grabs diapers or feminine supplies on the way home from work.

It’s a man who cries when he feels the burden of the world on his shoulders or feels trapped in his job but keeps going to work to provide for his family anyway.

It’s a grown son who worries when his aging parents are sick or a partner who gives you the last piece of cake.

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Yes, you do all those things, too. Maybe more.

But it’s not a competition.

Think about how you feel when you are thanked or noticed for the little, mundane things you do on a daily basis—or even the big, significant things you do.

It feels good, doesn’t it? It feels good when people take the time to see our hearts, to see our efforts. And then it makes us even more willing to do more and love more. 

It’s the same for our spouses and partners.

After killing the spider for me, my husband left for work knowing he had done a good thing because I told him. He didn’t ask for praise, but I gave it.

I wanted him to know his little gesture of killing the spider, and subsequently being a few minutes late for work, meant a lot to me, especially because he is always punctual. It showed he valued me and that, in my opinion, is a noble trait worth recognizing. 

I wanted him to know that I know I am blessed he is my husband.

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I’m not perfect. I still say things that don’t always build him up. And my husband doesn’t always do the thing I want or hope he’ll do. But we are both making an effort to notice each other for the good things.

As a result, that old cycle of nitpicking and discontentment from unmet needs is a lot harder to fall into. And the friendship and love that has always been hiding under the surface shines through a lot easier these days. 

Because love is in the little things.

Previously published on the author’s blog

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Heidi Farrell

Heidi is a stepmom and mom of five, whose ages range from 22 down to 4 years old. She and her husband have seen the full range of child development in their house...often all at once! Heidi loves connecting with other stepmoms and encouraging them on their journey. She blogs about her experiences and provides practical strategies for stepmoms at notjustastepmom.com, and is currently working on a book about the complexities and joys of adding an "ours baby" to a stepfamily.