8 “Secrets” to get you way beyond Valentine’s Day

More than 4 decades of marriage have taught me 8 “secrets” that might just give you a leg up this Valentine’s Day. Of course, you’ll have to do your own hard work, just like I still have to do mine, but I promise you it will be well worth it.

The “one-minute” secret starts it off. When you see your spouse at the end of the day, you give her or him one minute of undivided attention. Whoever is home first, stops everything when the other arrives. Everything means everything. You hold each other, kiss, speak sweet nothings, and relish a minute of undivided attention. You want to communicate love and security at a primal level? That will do it.

Secret No. 2 is the “best sex” secret. Women are ovens; men are stove-top burners. Well, often that’s true but certainly not always. We are all unique and even respond differently when it comes to intimacy. Men, one of the surest ways to discover intimacy in your marriage is to be tender-hearted in both sexual and nonsexual ways. This Friday on Valentine’s Day morning embrace your wife and say, “Good morning baby.” Kiss her and say, “You are the prettiest woman on planet earth. How did I get to be such a lucky man?”

Now don’t be surprised if she flirts and asks, “What makes you say that?” Get out your notepad right now, and write down 5 things about her you love the most. If you want to flirt with her during the day, text her another 5 things you love about her. You want her to melt? Then be prepared to tell her why being with her makes you feel like such a lucky man.

Ladies, I have 3 words for you: “Seize the day.” Little old you? Of course! Can you spell initiate? Men, warriors all, like that.

The “How-to-fight-like-cats-and-dogs” is secret No. 3. Great marriages emerge from learning how to fight well. If you never fight, you don’t have much of a marriage. You have to be humble and teachable to get this secret. The next time you start going at each other, cool your jets, make eye contact and really listen, instead of pouting, rolling your eyes or yelling.

Each of you try repeating what you think the other person is saying without being defensive and minimizing every word they say. Everyone wants to be understood. So, lower the volume, carefully listen and repeat back what you think you are hearing. You’ll be sending a message that says, “I value you. I respect you. I support you. I want to be on your team.” A spouse who feels heard feels loved.

Secret No. 4 is the “last-laugh” secret. My wife is witty. She makes me laugh out loud. When we laugh together, I feel connected and my stress evaporates. So, bring on the humor. Be playful. Laugh and joke together, but don’t be vulgar. In this vulgar-laced society, you don’t have to be coarse. No spouse is turned on by vulgarity.

The “lavish-praise” secret is No. 5. Our spouse is crying for approval, encouragement and respect. Quit taking each other for granted. “Nice meal,” is not praise. Don’t be disingenuous (“My husband is the smartest man in the county.”), but be authentic and deliberate. Compliment your mate in front of your children, your friends and your co-workers. Make your spouse feel like a million bucks.

“Chemistry” is secret No. 6. If your husband says, “Your hair smells good,” go out and buy a semi-load of shampoo with that fragrance. Responding to non-material things is even better. If your spouse says, “I like it when you hold my hand that way,” well, there’s your invitation. Do that 5,000 times this week. Who knows where that might lead?

The happiest marriages are ones where each spouse quickly says, “I’m sorry baby. Please forgive me.” The “I’m sorry” secret is No. 7. You want lasting contentment in your marriage? Get off the stupid escalator of revenge and move toward the knives that your spouse has pointed straight at you because you have offended her. Humble yourself, move toward those knives, ask for forgiveness and watch the knives turn to butter.

Secret No. 8 is the “give-your-spouse-a-blessing” secret. That’s right. Pray blessings over your spouse. You can speak or write your blessing. Either way, blessings enlarge the heart of the person you dearly love.

How about trying the famous blessing from the book of Numbers, where Moses blessed the Israelites? Hold your wife in your arms and say, “Sweetheart, the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord shine his face upon you and be gracious to you.” Or how about this blessing from the book of Philippians, “My sweet husband, may the peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.”

Every spouse needs to know they are wanted, valued, and beautiful in God’s eyes. There is no better way to know that than to receive a blessing from the one who loves you.

You practice these 8 “secrets” and you will be well on the road I’ve been on for more than 40 years. It can be bumpy, winding and narrow, but what a ride.