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On the heels of my post “The Art of the Love Letter”, let’s hear it for acts of kindness in Marriage!

On the heels of my post “The Art of the Love Letter”, let’s hear it for acts of kindness in Marriage!

With Valentine’s Day approaching, I wrote “The Art of the Love Letter” last week to give men —  who think they’d rather show their love instead of talk about it — an insight into the heart of many women for whom the words of love are important. Yes, even long past the “honeymoon” stage of the relationship, there’s nothing like receiving a handwritten testament of the love of one’s mate. I made the case that in Catholic life both words and deeds are important because they reflect the sacramentality of our lives. We are both body and soul, and marriages are both physical and spiritual. Of course, a woman wants her man to demonstrate his love with the things he does, and while some men may balk, I continue to stand by the notion a love letter is a physical demonstration of their love for their wives.

By the same token, there’s no reason a woman shouldn’t compose a love letter to her husband or husband-to-be. So, of course, good women, write away! Just because I wrote my piece from a woman’s point of view, does not mean that woman could not return the favor in kind.

In fact, the point of this whole post, is that marriages need acts of kindness to support the relationships between husbands and wives. I’m happy to report that Frank Weathers at Why I Am a Catholic gives an excellent reply to the invitation to write a love letter for his wife by issuing his own Valentine’s Day challenge to the women…

As Pat Gohn shames us men into drafting epic love letters for our sweeties this year, will us men be rewarded in kind? Here’s an idea, ladies. We’re pretty easy to please… Bacon_Roses

…Think STOMACH! Just give him Bacon Roses.

Do read the rest!

Just today, the Wall Street Journal has an excellent article by Elizabeth Bernstein: Small Acts, Big Love” that describes that a recent study finds that “small acts of kindness boost marital satisfaction.”  The husband of the first couple cited in the article, Mr. Kline, mentions that he’s not one of those tell-her-I-love-her kind of guys…

Chris Kline doesn’t like to tell his wife of 17 years, Tara, that he loves her. He prefers to show her—by loading her favorite songs on her phone and warming up her car on cold mornings. While she was away on business recently, he surprised her by painting her home office in her favorite colors, Mardi Gras purple and gold.

“Saying ‘I love you’ is just words,” says Mr. Kline, a 42-year-old engineer from Shoemakersville, Pa. “I like to do things that require effort, planning and a little bit of sacrifice. It shows you are putting the other person first.”

Researchers call this “compassionate love”—recognizing a partner’s needs and concerns and putting them ahead of your own. “It’s not just making people feel good,” says Harry T. Reis, a University of Rochester professor of psychology. “It’s a way of communicating to the other person that you understand what they are all about and that you appreciate and care for them.”

Illustrations by Kyle T. Webster

Since 2009, Dr. Reis has been studying 175 newlywed couples from around the U.S., asking how they show their spouses compassion. His findings, not yet published, indicate that people who discover ways to regularly show their spouses this kind of love are happier in their marriages.

Small selfless acts between spouses aren’t just nice—they also are necessary, experts say. When acts of kindness and caregiving disappear, it is an indication the relationship needs help.

You’ll have to read to the end to see if Mr. Kline changes his perspective on using words of love to his wife… but I stand by my advice when it comes to love letters from husbands to wives. There’s a separate side bar that includes “10 Marriage Sweeteners” such as:

“Put your partner’s goals first. Giving your husband the last cupcake is easy. Spending your vacation—again—with his family is hard.

“Go out of your way to ‘be there.’ Pay attention when your partner seems particularly stressed and try to help.”

“Show respect and admiration. Celebrate successes, even little ones. Did your spouse handle a touchy situation well, or make you laugh? Point it out.”

Finally, here’s a video with tips from the article.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

The Art of the Love Letter: Tips for husbands and husbands-to-be as Valentine’s Day Approaches

The Art of the Love Letter: Tips for husbands and husbands-to-be as Valentine’s Day Approaches

In which I kind of get to brag on my husband a little as I encourage men to commit their love to paper in honor of St Valentine…

In the rush to go green and paperless, and in the never ending screen-related communication that we face daily, the love letter will never lose its power. Sure, there’s flowers, and candy, and dates, and tokens of affection that warm the heart. But a letter… an offering of thought and emotion and whimsy and truth — surely I hope a few men will look to try their hand at it, especially if they’re shy about it. Here’s an except from my latest column at Patheos:

We are looking for words that endure, that are authentic, and worthy of being committed to paper in a moment that cannot shut off or erased. (And yes, you can buy that awesomely tender card in the store and sign your name, and really, she will love your thoughtfulness. But stick with me here, guys, go for something a bit more customized, and permanent.)

Remember: If you’ve found a woman who loves you, then you’ve found a treasure.

Do you see all those empty and counterfeit “loves” out there? Do you see the heartaches and the pain that exists between women and men today? So does she. It grieves her soul. Do what you can to sure up the foundations of love in your life. Make sure she knows what she’s won, when she has won your heart.

For Valentine’s Day, or really, for any special occasion — her birthday, your anniversary, you name it — you want to do the uncommon thing, the heroic thing, the thing that sets you apart from anyone else in the world, the thing that she will carry in her heart, or in her top dresser drawer, or purse, until next Valentine’s Day and beyond.

She wants to hear and know the words that only you can give her: words from you that describe how you cherish her and value your love together.

How does a guy accomplish this love letter thing? I give him a few tips in this article — writing prompts for writing for a woman’s heart.

You can thank me later, ladies and gents.

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