Not long after my wife and I were married, I realized that in order for our marriage to be long-lasting andhappy, love needed to become more than a feeling I had for her. It needed to become a verb. But as poor college students, we had to get creative sometimes when our budget restricted the things we could do for each other. I often wanted to get my wife little gifts or take her to dinner, but we simply couldn’t afford it. Here are eight things we've done that helped strengthen our relationship without breaking the bank.
Write a poem
Writing a poem takes more effort than just writing a love letter. It shows your spouse that you are willing to go the extra mile to show your love. But what if you’re not a poet? There are hundreds of rhyme dictionary apps and websites that can help you sound Shakespearean.
For my wife’s birthday this year, I actually ordered flowers to be delivered to her work. But when they didn’t arrive, I had to scramble. Just before she arrived home, I finished arranging some flowers I picked in a vase for her. Although the arrangement was obviously amateur, she appreciated the work and stress I went through to do something special for her.
Cook your spouse's favorite dinner
They say the way to a man’s heart is his stomach, and that is especially true after a long day at work. But even for the wife who works or stays at home with the kids, it’s nice to not have to worry about making dinner. It’s something to look forward to sharing together.
Give a back massage
I still haven’t been able to afford to send my wife to get a massage, but after a few years of marriage and practice, I sort of feel like I no longer need to! Giving a back, foot or whatever else massage (without expecting one in return, of course), is a good way to relieve some of your spouse’s stress and can connect you physically.
Wake up early and make breakfast
If you are like my wife and I, every morning is an early one, and we rarely have time to eat anything besides cereal in the morning. But there have been times when my wife has gotten up a little early to make something special that we can eat together before leaving for work. It has been a great opportunity to talk about the coming day and enjoy great food while we’re at it.
Ask, “What can I do for you?”
As simple as this sounds, it’s surprisingly effective. A lot of the time, your spouse may be struggling with something or be stressed about something that he doesn't want to burden you with. But if you simply ask the question, “What can I do for you?” it shows him that you care and you want to put his needs before your own.
Most of the time, I am too busy to do anything with my car. When I’m driving to and from work, I generally try to ignore the mess. So every now and then, my wife will surprise me by washing the exterior and cleaning out the interior. It’s a nice reminder that she cares. (Or maybe she's just tired of it being that way.)
Do some extra chores
This one has been a huge help in our marriage, especially when we have both been very busy. Household chores seem to never be completely finished, so taking a little time out of your day to do the dishes, vacuum or anything else will take a load off for your spouse and give you an opportunity to serve.
Since we were married three years ago, my wife and I have been through a lot of hard times together. One reason why our relationship is still strong is that we have consistently tried to do things for each other. At this point, the feeling of love is no longer enough to strengthen our marriage. It’s only through small acts to show our love for each other that we’ve stayed strong.
Ben lives with his wife, Kilee, and dog, Paisley, in Arkansas. He has a passion for personal finance, sports, and learning. Ben recently started a blog at www.wealthgospel.com where you can find more of his opinions on personal finance. His life goals are to write about personal finance all day and start a non-profit organization to help others become self-reliant and to find their true potential. On any given day, you could find him eating homemade salsa, picking blackberries, or staying up until 3 a.m. to finish a book.