Woman Holding Valentine's Day Gift BagMy grown daughter from Seattle called two weeks ago and thanked me for a gift I had given her. What gift? I wondered, since I hadn’t mailed anything out yet. I listened as she continued.

“Mom, your gift to me is that you take care of yourself and enjoy your life. You don’t expect anything from me and I never feel guilty if time goes by and I’ve been too busy to call. I know you aren’t feeling unloved. Thank you.”

“Thank you.” I felt blessed to have a daughter who took time to say something so kind while I was still alive instead of saying it at my funeral one day.

Well, that conversation has been on my mind for the past two weeks. For one thing, her words were so uplifting that it was enjoyable to replay them in my mind. But, for another reason too.

Since Joe and I serve in a ministry for crisis marriages, we hear many couples complain about their spouse and their lives. Most of the time at least one spouse wants to separate or divorce. The list of complaints can go on and on, and the frustrated spouse feels empty and worn out.

The conversation with M’Lissa reminded me of the importance of self-nurturing–especially in marriage. In fact, Joe and I believe that taking the pressure off your spouse (and others) to make you happy is the most unselfish way to live.


1. Spend Time Enjoying Life Alone

Make a list of 10-15 things you enjoy doing alone that are not immoral, expensive or illegal. Things such as, going for a walk, listening to music, reading, biking, fishing, or going for a drive. Then, implement at least 10 things each week into your life. I learned this when Joe and I were separated for two years, from 1987-1989. I realized that my focus had been on others to make me happy. I was trying to change my ways, and wanted to learn how to be content alone, since it looked like Joe and I weren’t going to resolve our differences any time soon.

2. Keep Short Accounts of Offenses

Realize that people don’t wake up each morning thinking about what they can do or say to make others not like them. Everyone wants to be loved. Give others the same break you would want, when behaving without thinking. Forgiveness is the key to being healthy on the inside. Consider these words by Jesus, “For the words that you speak come from the heart–that’s what defiles you”, Matthew 15:18, (NLT).

3. Keep An Eternal Perspective

Let’s face it, life is short. Theology differences aside, most agree that we were created by a God who wants more for us than an empty existence. Jesus told His disciples that He was preparing a place in heaven and would come back one day (see John 14:1-6). Keeping an eternal perspective on life helps relieve worry and stress, and can even  bring humor to many uncomfortable circumstances.

Give those you love the perfect gift this year–enjoy the life God has given you, and take pressure off others to make you happy by self-nurturing.

What are some ways that you have learned to self-nurture?