This article was originally published on the Jacob's website, Nurturing Marriage. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Thanksgiving isn't typically a holiday you would think should revolve around your spouse, right? Well, admit it. Your true love deserves your thanks more than anyone else at this Thanksgiving time. As you reflect on who your spouse is and all he or she does for you, you will find yourself feeling overwhelmed with gratitude and — if you are the emotional type — even a bit weepy (ya big baby).
You feel it— that deep sense of gratitude for that spouse of yours who has been by your side through student loans and labor, through sleepless nights and food poisoning, through three kids, seven grandkids, one career change, nine moves, 27 overflowing toilets (who's counting?), and the loss of two dogs, one parakeet and a goldfish (sigh).
Your reflections will flood your heart and mind with hundreds and thousands of things your spouse does for you each day that invite more happiness, love and peace into your life than you ever realized — things like the way she scratches your back just right, always finishing up by running her fingers through your hair. Or maybe it's the way he smacks your bum with the kitchen towel as he tells you to scoot over so he can help you wash dishes (all the while threatening to spread dish bubbles over your face so he can call you Santa Claus).
As you allow gratitude for your very best friend (who had better be your spouse) to fill your heart, you will notice that love is there right alongside it — a deep kind of love, a selfless kind of love, a vulnerable, interdependent, "I forgot how much I need you" kind of love.
Let that gratitude and love work within you, and try one of these ideas to let your spouse know that, this Thanksgiving — and always, you are grateful for them.
Just say it
Just say, "Thank you." Say it in your own words and in your own style, but just make sure you say it. Oh, and be specific. Specificity always earns you bonus points with your spouse, right? You may want to express your gratitude by filling a notebook with things you appreciate about her, or get creative and write the things you appreciate about him on a roll of toilet paper (you can think of 260 things, right?). Sticky notes left all over the house or office are also a brilliant idea for expressing gratitude — especially if they form the shape of a "thankful tree" on the wall. You could write her a song or a poem, or text him a picture of you holding up a little "thank you" note. Finally, there is always the ever-romantic handwritten thank you note (smothered in perfume or kiss marks, of course). In all your expressions, just make sure to "keep it real" — express the deepest feelings of your heart.
Show your gratitude by doing something that will make your spouse's life a little easier. Pack her lunch or do the dishes. Clean his car, or surprise him with breakfast in bed or a romantic dinner at home (we like to call it the Cozy Corner Cafe).
Try devoting a whole day to your spouse. Take off work, get a sitter for the kids and spend the whole day with your spouse. Go read children's books at your local library, play laser tag, take a walk in the park, watch a Broadway show or enjoy a sunset dinner cruise.
Pampering is good for the soul
Make or buy a gift your spouse would love — a gift that literally screams, "Thank you for all you do and all that you are! Now go and relax!" Your spouse will be thrilled. It might be a golf trip for two, perhaps a mani/pedi for her. Maybe pre-order that new gadget he has been eyeing, or get a gift certificate to that restaurant she has been talking about. Flowers for her (sent with a card) just may be the perfect thing if they arrive right around 1 p.m. — the time you know she'll be at her wit's end because your 2-year-old will be throwing a tantrum as he fights his nap.
A hug speaks volumes — and so does a nap
Pull your spouse in close, hug her tight for at least one minute, rub your fingers up and down her back and then whisper in her ear something specific like, "I'm so thankful for your patience." Don't add, "especially when I'm always late getting home from work and you don't chew me out when I walk in the door." Generic but sweet always goes over well, too — something like, "I thank my lucky stars each day that God gave me you."
A nice massage may be the perfect way for you to show your spouse you really love him. Pull out the lotion, turn on the calming music and help him unwind from the stress and pressures of the day. Then let him take a nap. Better yet, cuddle up and take a nap with him!
Then, there's always the 100 kisses. Run your fingers through her hair, stroke her cheek, and put your fingers on her lips to get her attention. Proceed to tell her that 100 kisses from you equals one big fat "thank you" for all that she does and for who she is. Then kiss her all over.
There are hundreds of ways to express gratitude year-round. As you try one of these ideas this Thanksgiving, you will feel more love and appreciation for your spouse, and he or she will feel completely and utterly adored by you. Win-win!
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.