1. DON’T BE SHY ABOUT BIG AND SMALL ROMANTIC GESTURES. There are a million ways to make a girl feel special (because she is). You can make a small, but thoughtful, gesture by buying her some flowers or planning out a lovely date night as a surprise. Or, you could go big by planning a trip, throwing her a surprise birthday party with her loved ones, or by showing up on her lunch break with her favorite meal. If you really love her, these actions will be easy. They’ll fill your heart as much as they’ll fill hers.
3. ACTUALLY SPEND THE TIME TO DATE HER THOUGHTFULLY. Dating doesn’t end a few months into the relationship. Dating can and should go on for the duration of the partnership. From the early days to the days where you know each other well, really take the time to be intentional about dating. Think of places that you both would have a blast at and take her there. Bring her out to eat, do things like open the door for her, and take the time to treat each date as if it’s a precious gift (because it is).
5. BUT ALSO, TELL HER SHE’S BEAUTIFUL. This is going to be a seeming contradiction, but also don’t just throw the word beautiful out the window. Call her many other things and also remind her that she’s beautiful. In truth, a woman can never hear it enough.
7. BE COMPLETELY DEPENDABLE. One of the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz for living a better life is to “be impeccable with your word.” This essentially means to show up when you say you will and to follow through on promises. If you’ve proven yourself worthy of her trust, it’s important not to break it. I know we’re all imperfect humans, but it’s important to be as dependable as humanly possible so that she knows you mean business.
9. BE EMOTIONALLY AVAILABLE FOR HER AND FOR YOUR LIFE. Emotional availability is a phrase that’s thrown around often. Let’s talk about what it looks like to be emotionally available. Your communication skills are effective—meaning you can communicate while preserving the relationship and also can get your needs met. You are able to tune into what your emotions and thoughts are, then can share them competently with your partner. You can process difficult emotions without exploding or acting out. These are just some characteristics of emotional availability. You owe it to yourself and your partner to be this way.
11. Listen—really listen—to them. Paying attention to and devoting real energy to understanding what your spouse is trying to communicate shows that you value what they have to say. Listening without interrupting or putting them down shows that their thoughts, ideas, opinions, and feelings are important to you.
12. Seek out their opinion. Don't wait for your spouse to always initiate conversation. Seek out ways and times when you can ask for their input on what you are working on, struggling with or interested in. Doing so shows you think they have something of value to offer.
13. Celebrate their wins. When your spouse accomplishes something that was a challenge, reaches a milestone or takes an active step toward fulfilling a dream, celebrate with them. Make a big deal—in appropriate measure—over their win. Brag about their win to others, as appropriate. Be your spouse's biggest cheerleader.
14. Ditch the criticism. That doesn't mean you sweep problems or issues under the rug. It does mean you don't nag. Period. No condescending comments. Express the concerns you have clearly, privately and with the purpose of solving a problem or offering support, not tearing down your spouse.
15. Guard their reputation. There will be things your spouse does that you don't like, or that hurt you. Don't air their dirty laundry to your friends, on social media or otherwise in public. If there are some serious issues about which you need advice or support, seek out a counselor, pastor or older godly Christian to get input from—privately.
16. Speak well of them in public. This is the converse of No. 5, and it's one of the most powerful ways in which you can show respect. Speak well of your spouse in public or on social media. And it's great when your spouse can catch you doing this; it validates how much you respect him/her. And make your positive words real; no underhanded or qualified praise.
17. When you cause them pain, apologize. You don't want your spouse to dismiss your hurt feelings, so don't make that mistake with them. Your spouse feels how they feel; acknowledge that. Even if the pain you caused them was unintentional or seems unreasonable to you, apologize and make it right as much as you are able.