Showing love to Skywalker is an easier practice for me. I try to go through 1 Corinthians 13, the famous passage on what love is and isn’t, and do what it says. Of course following through on this isn’t so easy, but at least I know what to practice. Am I patient? Was that kind? Was I being self-seeking or looking out for him? And I can very quickly determine whether or not that word or action was loving.
I also try exercising love languages. Skywalker’s love languages include receiving acts of service and quality time spent together. I like to throw in little gifts once in a while…for variety…but it has to be practical ones as he’s not sentimental much. So I pack him good lunches (or try to), try to have nice dinners for him to come home to, give massages, occasionally surprise him with snacks he likes (but know aren’t so good for him) and I guard our schedules to ensure we have sufficient time to ourselves through the week.
As for respect…I DO respect him, but I’m learning this is a hard one to show. I believe it’s hard for a lot of wives out there too. Not nagging or mothering Skywalker is showing huge respect. It goes both ways but not speaking “down” to each other shows respect. I’m also learning to respect his sense of timing or trust his words that when he says he’ll take care of it, he’ll do it. It might not my way or in my exact timing, but he’ll do it. Me keeping quiet demonstrates my trust and respect for him. Of course, there’s been a couple times where he’s said he’ll do something, then DIDN’T do it…so then I have right to be mad about it, but even then, respect is about extending grace by not purposely trying to lay guilt on the other person.
I’m not one to compliment much…but am learning he NEEDS to hear that I respect certain things/characteristics/decisions he made or that I admire different qualities he’s shown. Hearing I respect him is as important to him as hearing he loves me is to me.
In general, I think it’s also in calling each other to be better versions of ourselves…in ways that motivate and nourish us as individuals. He is not me, I am not him. It’s easy enough to find buttons that set the other person off, but loving and respecting each other is about finding buttons that add boosts of energy, well-being, emotional nourishment, etc. Those are the ones a marriage NEEDS. So….learning and practicing.