In college, I got to know an elderly couple who took a real liking to me, and they would often have me over to their house and take me out to dinner. While they were nothing but kind to me, their relationship with each other was incredibly hostile. Every conversation would turn into an angry shouting match, and they could barely relate to one another without harsh words or bitter criticisms.
While I don’t know this couple’s history or how they came to interact this way, the relationship they had is sadly all too common. Marriages are crumbling, and the divorce rate is creeping above 50%. And while the Church has always defended the indissolubility of marriage, it is a tragic reality that Catholics are civilly divorcing at essentially the same rate as everyone else.
The causes of this breakdown of marriage are many, but really, the solution is simple. We who are called to the vocation of marriage must love our wives. Let’s face it, we ultimately can’t change anyone’s marriage but our own. In the face of marital collapse on a massive scale, our Catholic marriages must be a prophetic witness of joyful life, fidelity, and love.
So with that said, here are 25 ways to tell your wife you love her. There are hundreds more!
- Listen to her and care about what she has to say
- Show her physical, non-sexual affection
- Surprise her with flowers
- Take her out to dinner (without the kids)
- Buy her a book she’s been wanting
- Write her a love note
- Wash the dishes
- Check something off your honey-do list
- If you have babies, change a diaper
- Let her go out with her girlfriends sans kids
- Open the door for her
- Pray with her and for her
- Apologize to her when you sin
- Forgive her when she sins…never hold a grudge
- Ask her advice
- Pay attention to her pet peeves and avoid them
- Take her shopping
- Fast for her
- Understand and comfort her fears even if you don’t share them
- Talk to her about life
- Compliment her specifically
- Kiss her in public and in front of the kids
- Hold her hand
- Give up something you want to do to do something she wants to do
- Don’t criticize or complain…praise
In short, keep dating your wife.
Once upon a time, your chief preoccupation was winning your wife’s heart and securing her affection. Remember? Yet, many men stop doing this the minute they say “I do.” This shouldn’t be. Your mission as a Catholic husband is to become a life-long student of your wife. Study to understand her hopes and dreams, her fears and practical concerns. What does she love? What does she hate? What makes her happy? What’s her love language? Learn what delights her heart and then do it.
Men marriage is a sacrament, just like confession or the Eucharist. A good marriage can literally give us spiritual life and grace. Isn’t that amazing? And yet despite this fact, many of us treat our spouse casually and irreverently, as a nuisance, or worse, as an enemy. How sad.
The saints tell us that we receive more from the sacraments if we receive them well. The more prepared our hearts are, the more graces we receive. Why then, do we who are called to the sacrament of Matrimony so often neglect our marriages and ignore our spouses? Your wife is a sacramental sign to you. Treat her like one.