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As I write this, we are expecting serious snow in the Four Corners. That got me thinking that massive amounts of snow are comprised of numerous individual flakes. Insignificant by themselves, but in combination with others, they can be a powerful force. The same can be said for ravaging floods. All are comprised of individual raindrops that pooled their energy to create an unstoppable force. Beaches are the result of tiny grains of sand all taking up residence in the same location.

You probably get my point that separately none of these aspects of nature are noteworthy or impactful. It’s only when they group together that they get our attention. So now I have a dilemma. There are two tangents I can pursue from this analogy. I could make the point that we as individuals are not nearly as powerful and potent alone as we are when united with a lifelong partner. That’s an interesting premise, but not the one I choose for this column.

Actually, the inspiration for today’s column came to me at a funeral I recently attended. I didn’t know the deceased, Howard Reider, but I have long been a friend and fan of his wife, June. At the time of his passing, they had been married 58 years.

At the funeral, one of his daughters and a sister-in-law shared memories of someone I quickly wished I had known. The stories they recalled painted a vivid picture of a man who lived a life many might envy. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather while also faithfully serving his church, community and country.

The story I found most appealing was of the time Howard cared for his lawn in a special way. He used extra fertilizer in a specific pattern that went unnoticed for several days. After a time, however, his efforts had created a dark green message in the lawn that simply read "I Love June."

Now I cannot imagine this creation cost Howard much time, effort or money. But if the expression "it’s the thought that counts" was ever true, I’d say this was certainly the time. I also find myself picturing the glee and joy Howard must have experienced as he knew that in a few short weeks his wife would know what he had done and how deeply he cared for her.

A small effort on a man’s part led to a lasting and beautiful memory in his wife’s heart. So how about you? When was the last time you did something special for your spouse? I don’t mean at Christmas, birthday or anniversary times. I’m asking you to think back to the last time you went out of your way to show — not just tell — your husband or wife that you truly love and appreciate him or her.

I recall hearing a radio program many years ago about a couple who would leave SHMILY notes around their home, while traveling or at other unsuspected times and places. He would open the kitchen cabinet and find a SHMILY note there. She would open the washer to do the laundry, but first had to remove the SHMILY note she found there. Either would open their suitcase to unpack at a hotel and there would be — you guessed it — a SHMILY note.

Apparently, this was not an everyday occurrence, but a regular one that served them well over their long and successful marriage. SHMILY, in case you’re wondering, stands for "See How Much I Love You." Their habit of exchanging the notes over the years served as a frequent reminder of how much they mattered to one another. Such a practice could be a wonderful protection against a marriage getting stale and routine. And, like a snowflake, a raindrop or a grain of sand, these efforts gain in strength and power over time.

Here’s a little thing that my wife and I frequently do that will mean little to you, but is significant to us. You know how when you check into a nice motel the toilet paper is folded into a triangle to make it easier to grab the first sheet? That’s the motel’s way of saying we’re glad you’re here and we prepared for your arrival.

Trust me, it’s a nice feeling to see the paper folded and to know that my wife was thinking of me. Again, was this a monumental effort on her part? I don’t think so. But it carried a message that I, and quite possibly your spouse, might need at any given moment.

So I’ll leave you with a challenge to consider how you might begin this year to incorporate little efforts on your part to show love and appreciation to your spouse. Small gestures, often repeated, can have a dramatic impact over the course of time.

Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners. He can be reached at 505-327-7870 and ronp@fccmf.org.

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