- Respect for your spouse's contribution to your shared life - This means being thankful - in words - for what he or she does. Doesn't matter if it's their 'expected' division of labor. The point is that your spouse has chosen to be with you, and chosen a life that includes making dinner, mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, taking out the trash...there is a lot that is being done for you, and it's only right to say 'thanks'. Every time.
- Respect for your spouse as a person - Do you ever say something critical to your wife or husband that you wouldn't say to your boss, or to a friend, under similar circumstances? if you said yes, then you're taking advantage of the 'special' relationship. Your spouse has a vested interest in the relationship, and you can be less considerate - and oft-times, more cruel - than you would be to someone who can simply walk away (or, in the case of a boss, suggest that you walk away).
- Reliability - Do what you say you're going to do, without excuses. If you promised to clean the gutters but your favorite team's made the playoffs - too bad. You made a promise, and while you can be released from that promise, you can't either ignore it, nor ask for release, nor do the work in an attitude of resentment. The team you support really doesn't care whether you watch them or not. But your spouse cares, very much, about being with a person who will do what he says he'll do.
- Present a united front - In public, your obligation is to support your spouse - no matter what. You don't laugh at jokes at his expense (unless he makes the joke), and you certainly never make a joke at his expense. Your spouse deserves to know that "you've got his back".
- Be thoughtful - Guys, open doors for your wives. Car doors, church doors, you name it - you open it. If it's cold, your coat is suddenly hers, and you do not complain. Ladies, don't greet your husband on Saturday morning with a list of things you want done by three in the afternoon.
- Be giving - Everyone loves gifts that say "I'm thinking of you". Men like flowers, even if they have no idea what they are. Just make sure that the gift is for your spouse's pleasure - not yours. Giving your wife a copy of the action-adventure DVD you want to see will get you a strained "thanks", and the knowing that you did what you wanted, while trying to look good.
- Be unexpectant - What you do, do for love, and for the look in your spouse's eyes that says, I feel safe, I feel loved, I feel wanted". Guys, the minute you connect any of these with the expectation of sex, either in the immediate or the no-too-distant future (and that is what most men do), you've destroyed a part of the bond you're trying to nurture. Sure, you may get what you want - after all, you paid for it. How does that sound?
The environment of love and care that is within your power to keep in vibrant life is worth more than any job, more than any accomplishment. It's what makes the good times better, and makes the bad times bearable.
What does the picture have to do with the subject? The puppies look like their practicing skydiving positions together - and isn't marriage a bit like jumping out of an airplane, in the faith that you'll have a soft landing?
What does your spouse do, in the course of normal life, that makes your marriage more romantic?