How to Nurture Fondness and Admiration in Marriage

Do you remember the first few months you started falling in love? It seemed that everything your partner did caught your attention. And every time you talked to your friends, you were always gushing about everything you admired about him or her! 

When Daniel and I started dating, I thought he was cool. But after we got married and got to know him a little bit more, I found myself comparing him to other guys—you know, the ones who open the door, carry your bag, all these very gentlemanly things. Daniel wasn’t like that, and after some time, I got a bit resentful, how come he’s not doing all these things? 

Before I knew it, I was no longer dwelling on what he was good at. When admiration and fondness is not there for your spouse, you end up with a lot of complaint; sometimes you question, am I the right one for him? He’s just not meeting my expectation of how a husband should be.

What really changed for me was when we went through a marriage workshop. There was an exercise where I got a glimpse of how Daniel was originally designed: a person with an important destiny, who knows how to ignite new things, tenacious in his faith.

That was when I realized that all this admiration I had for him before was gone because of comparison. Remember this: comparison is one of the quickest ways to kill admiration.

Remember this: comparison is one of the quickest ways to kill admiration.  
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How to Nurture Fondness and Admiration 

Nurturing fondness and admiration is one of the Seven Principles of Marriage that Dr. John Gottman compiled through his decades of working with married couples. Here are some practical steps you can take if you want to cultivate this important component of a healthy marriage: 

1. Identify your partner’s strengths. 

Instead of looking at your spouse in areas that he’s lacking, try to look at areas in which he is thriving, what really makes him shine. If it’s been a while since you’ve done so, it may take some effort. 

Some things to jog your memory may be: 

  • In what ways does he treat you, your children, or other people well? 
  • What talents and strengths does he have that he uses to bless others? 
  • What things does he do that make you smile or make you feel loved?

2. Express your admiration.

Once you’ve identified one thing that you admire about your spouse, find a way to express it. It can be by verbally telling him or her, or you might send a text message of leave a note somewhere visible. It may feel awkward at first, but the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature. 

3. Practice speaking respectfully to each other. 

Another way of nurturing fondness and admiration for your spouse is to practice using a respectful tone of voice. A lot of the time, we are most apt to be sarcastic or condescending when talking to our spouse! If you feel that you can relate, try to be conscious about your tone and choice of words, and be intentional about being as respectful as possible when conversing with your partner. You will notice that it can make a world of difference. 

4. Do at least one act of kindness to your spouse everyday. 

Sometimes we can get so caught up in everyday busyness that we don’t think of doing anything for our spouse. Sure, we may spend the whole day doing household chores that’s for the family, but it’s a whole different thing when you intentionally do something kind for your partner. 

For example, it can be as simple as making him a cup of coffee while he’s working against a deadline in the home office. Or it can be a husband offering to take care of the kids while giving your wife a day off for some me-time. If you can’t spare a whole day, maybe you can initiate a ten-minute back massage. 

5. Give consideration to your spouse’s needs and wants. 

Another way of nurturing fondness in your relationship is being intentional to give consideration to what your spouse needs or wants. When it’s within your power, you can choose to forego your own preferences. For example, if your spouse wants to go out for coffee but you’d rather stay home and watch TV, it would not hurt to give in to his or her desire. 

Cultivating Fondness for Each Other 

With these steps, we hope you can develop a habit of cultivating fondness for each other. Constantly “depositing” into your partner’s love bank can help develop a strong foundation for greater intimacy in your marriage. It can also help protect your relationship from the allure of unhealthy friendships and affairs! 

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