If you haven’t noticed, the world offers terrible marriage advice…
“Slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don’t need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free.”
That’s definitely not biblical marital counseling! It comes from a famous ballad written by Paul Simon back in the 70s.
Back when I started writing, I felt like the song deserved a response. So I tweaked the title and wrote an article called, “50 Ways to
Leave Love Your Lover.”
50 Ways to Love Your Lover
1. List the “Top 10 Reasons I’m the Most Fortunate Husband/Wife in the World.” Read them aloud to your spouse.
2. Surprise your mate by doing one of his or her chores. When asked why, give a smooch and say, “Because you are worth it!”
3. Don’t just show – tell! Say, “I love you.”
4. Communicate your plans to each other. On Sunday night, go over your schedules for the coming week.
5. Use the T.H.I.N.K. method to determine whether an issue needs to be brought up. Is it True? Helpful? Inspiring? Necessary? Kind?
6. Plan an appreciation celebration for your mate, complete with his or her favorite meal.
7. Look at your schedule. Make time with your spouse a weekly priority.
8. Bring back those dating days. After picking up the sitter, walk back outside and knock on the door with flowers in your hand.
9. Don’t turn on the TV until after dinnertime, if at all. Allow a conversation to break out.
10. Pray together. Thank God for your mate, then pray for his or her needs.
11. On your spouse’s birthday, send your in-laws a thank-you card.
12. Set boundaries in outside relationships. Don’t let anyone take away too much of the time you spend with your spouse.
13. Are you seeing eye to eye? Experts have found the deeper the love, the more frequent the eye contact.
14. Pull out old love letters, taking turns reading and reminiscing.
15. Take turns reading from the Bible each night.
16. Stretch out birthdays with special activities, fun surprises and a whole lot of hoopla.
17. Be a student of your spouse. Learn what he likes. Learn what she needs.
18. Treat your wife like a lady. Open doors and hold chairs.
19. Throw away fighting words like “You never …” and “You should …” Use healing words like “I’m sorry …” and “You may be right.”
20. Make church attendance a joyful priority.
21. Instead of making a joke at your spouse’s expense, give a sincere compliment.
22. Create traditions as a couple by budgeting money for special times together.
23. Be affectionate. Back rubs and tender hand-holding communicate love.
24. Choose your battles carefully.
25. Be a person of integrity. Give your spouse no reason to doubt your word or question your commitment.
26. Find ways to declare your love for your mate. Buy a bumper sticker that proclaims: “I love my husband [wife]!”
27. Sit down with your calendar and schedule time to be together.
28. Practice kindness – in your words and in your actions.
29. Discover little-known facts about each other. Share stories from your childhood.
30. Find scripture verses to pray for your spouse.
31. Instead of making a joke at your spouse’s expense, give a sincere compliment.
32. Be spontaneous. Surprise your mate with a random act of kindness.
33. Anyone can remember birthdays and anniversaries, but it takes a real Romeo or Juliet to romance when nothing’s expected.
34. Guard your time together. Turn off your phone or computer. It tells your mate, “I’m all yours!”
35. Sandwich criticism between two positives.
36. Memorize scripture verses together.
37. Protect your mate. Instead of saying, “Don’t talk to your mother like that,” say “Don’t talk to my wife like that.”
38. Go for your Ph.D. in marriage! Read all the books. Attend all the seminars.
39. Get away with God as a couple. Spend time with God separately, then share what He’s spoken to your hearts.
40. Pick up some Post-It notes and write short messages to hide everywhere.
41. Come up with a special kiss or secret word that says, ‘You’re the most important thing in my life.”
42. Take turns planning anniversaries. A little competition creates a definite win-win situation.
43. Respect one another. Listen to the tone of your voice. Hold hands when “discussing” issues.
44. Husbands, practice loving your wife as Christ loves the church. Wives, submit to God by giving your husband the privilege of the final say.
45. Accept your spouse as he or she is. Ask about and listen to his or her dreams.
46. Love on purpose. Don’t let time slip away. Daily find new ways to show love to your mate.
47. Do the unexpected. Slip a rose under his windshield wiper. E-mail or text her a love note.
48. Let go of grudges – be quick to forgive. Don’t rehearse it. Don’t nurse it. Let God reverse it.
49. Guard against criticism and negativity. Speak well of each other, and do it often.
50. Change your prayer from “Lord, change him/her” to “Lord, change me.”
Making Beautiful Music Together
Paul Simon wrote “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” after his divorce from his first wife. Obviously disillusioned, he wrote the lyrics as advice coming from a mistress.
“Hop on the bus, Gus. You don’t need to discuss much. Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.”
This kind of escapism is rarely the answer. For we often leave one bad relationship only to end up in another, with the only constant in the equation being the problem of ourselves.
When we commit to marriage through the good and the bad – for better or for worse – we become the best version of ourselves. For the secret of making beautiful music together in marriage isn’t found in going solo. It’s hidden in harmony.
It takes two distinct melodies willing to blend in order to compose a love song and two different perspectives willing to bend to build a marriage.
And that takes time…and practice. No matter what Simon says.
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(This post contains some affiliate links.)
Help me expand this list to “100 Ways to Love Your Lover” — Leave a comment and share your tips!