The Rebuilding a Relationship Series: Making Your Spouse a Priority

April 2, 2019 |Gideon Hanekom

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In this post, we’re looking at the notion of making your spouse a priority when rebuilding a relationship. Putting your spouse’s needs before your own can sometimes mean the difference between having a rocky relationship and a difficult relationship and a healthy marriage.

So far in this rebuilding a relationship series we’ve seen that love relationships can be challenging.

They sometimes require more of you than you thought would be required at the start or you’re even capable of giving.

But, often when the time comes we simply do what we must.

And, sometimes we don’t.

At the end of the day, our love relationships are a gift and they must be cared for as such.

Because without constant care and attention, they won’t remain healthy nor grow.

And one of the only ways you’ll be able to do that long-term is by making your spouse a priority.

More often than not, humans are selfish by nature.

I know that’s an unpopular thing to say and you might not even agree but there is more truth to it than you think.

I still remember this one question in Psychology 101 on whether there really is such a thing as “true altruism.”

Do people ever do anything without some kind of benefit or payoff?

Whether it’s a physical or emotional return.

The fact is we tend to take care of ourselves and make sure that our needs are met, in some way or another.

And we also see this theme played out over and over on Social Media and movies.

Not only do people seem to be in it for themselves but it’s also promoted as the “normal” thing to do.

If you look at most romantic movies, a lot of them insinuate that it’s just fine to head out the door for either an affair or a divorce or leave your partner at the altar when there’s suddenly a “better” option.

It’s actually quite funny just how people in people in movies seem to initially pick the wrong person to marry, only to leave at the last minute for the “right” person.

But that’s not real life though.

That’s not how true love relationships work.

Apart from hopefully choosing the right person to get married to from the start, we also cannot just pick up and leave every time our own needs and wants aren’t being met in the ways we want without cost or compromise to ourselves at all.

I mean, I guess you can, but that’s not how things tend to work.

It’s also not how long term happy relationships are formed.

A love relationship is definitely a place where our needs and wants need to be met, but it doesn’t just happen one way.

making your spouse a priority

It’s a commitment by two people to love and nurture each other for as long as it takes and whatever it asks.

Ultimately life is not about getting but giving.

It’s only by making your spouse a priority and in giving that we find a lot more is given to us in return than we can ever give.

True fulfilment and happiness in love relationships happen when you start looking beyond yourself and by making your spouse a priority.

When you think of your partner more than you think of yourself.

And the old expression that “it is better to give rather than receive” holds just as true with your emotions, love, respect and honour as it is for any physical gifts and trinkets.

A Swedish proverb also says,

Love me when I least deserve it because that is when I really need it.

Swedish Proverb

The point here for those of us in love relationships is that when you are willing to put the needs of your partner above your own by making your spouse a priority, you stand a chance of creating the type of relationship we want.

One filled with happiness, love and fulfilment.

This is even more important if you’re serious about rebuilding or repairing your relationship.

In that instance there is no other place to start – you MUST make your spouse a priority by thinking of your partner more than you think of yourself.

There is no way around this.

You cannot repair a relationship while making yourself a priority over your spouse.

That will NEVER work – not if the goal is rebuilding a broken relationship.

And this goes both ways of course.

Why making your spouse a priority is crucial for relationship success?

When BOTH partners start thinking of the other more than themselves, the relationship stands the best chance of either being repaired and eventually growing again, or from never breaking down in the first place.

By making your spouse a priority, you give your relationship the best platform for healthy growth, intimacy, and long-term happiness.

That, of course, does not imply that you neglect yourself or prioritise your spouse to the point of self-implosion or martyrdom.

Making your spouse a priority speaks of the notion that a relationship is a place where we come to give rather than get.

The only way a relationship will last is if you see your relationship as a place that you go to give, and not a place that you go to take. The number one rule is: my lover comes first. If you’re in love, you put their feelings and needs before your own.

Tony Robbins Quotes

So, let me give you a typical example of how this idea of making your spouse a priority can play out in everyday life.

Let’s say you’re having a disagreement about something.

Now, that can go one of many ways.

You can simply work through things OR it can be the catalyst for major drama that lasts for days.

But, making your spouse a priority, in this instance, sets the tone for how things will go from the outset.

Because when you choose to love your partner through a disagreement rather than defensively act out in ways that further damage the relationship, not only do you nurture the relationship but you also strengthen your bond with your partner.

The reality is that oftentimes our partners may be lashing out at us because of stuff they are going through that’s got nothing to do with us.

But when you can love them through that emotional distress they’re feeling, even when wrongly aimed at you at that moment, you’ll often find a more loveable (and apologetic) partner on the other side.

Sometimes, people who appear to not be listening to you, are overly critical of your behaviour, seem to be deflecting or stonewalling, act out of sarcasm or are outright hostile, can be attacking you when they mean to be attacking a person who isn’t even in the room.

They may be angry with their parents, siblings or other family members.

It is in these moments that you need to take the time to think more of your partner than yourself, no matter how hard.

Because even though their initial harsh words might have nothing to do with you, should you fail to appreciate that fact and lash out as well, it WILL become about you.

Ultimately, when both partners work toward selflessness it significantly reduces the number of unhappy days you’ll experience together.

Good husbands and wives are selfless and put the needs of their partners above their own.

Whether unconsciously or by choice.

Because they intuitively understand the power of making your spouse a priority.

So, let me ask you …

How much do you put your partner first?

How much are you making your spouse a priority?

In the next and final post in this rebuilding a relationship series, we are concluding with perhaps the most important idea of all – to mend a relationship you must walk the talk.

About the author

Gideon Hanekom

Gideon Hanekom is the creator of, a popular relationship blog that ranks among the top 50 relationship blogs in 2024. The website helps couples to create happier, healthier, and more intimate relationships. Gideon is a trained professional counsellor and holds post-graduate degrees in Theology and Psychology. His articles have also been featured on respected platforms such as and The Good Men Project.

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