Sometimes we don't appreciate what we have until it's gone. It's a mistake we each fall prey to. But this is not a mistake you want to make in marriage.

Life is simply too short to spend your time feeling upset, frustrated, unwilling to forgive or angry. Simply put, don't spend your time in the "thick of thin things."

Not long ago I read about a young, pregnant wife and mother with cancer. After giving birth to her sixth child she began her own fight for life. Another story I read years ago was about a young husband and father who died tragically in a hiking accident and whose wife was expecting their second child.

My heart aches when I hear stories like these. It makes me want to give my wife a big hug and kiss and to tell her, "I love you." It makes me want to tell my kids another bedtime story and to have another tickle fight with them.

Unfortunately, we forget what really matters to us until it's gone. Only then do we realize how good we actually had it, how truly blessed we have been. It can be easy to overlook what a wonderful gift it is to spend your life with that special someone.

Time is our most precious commodity, and life is simply too short to waste, especially when we never know how much of it we have left.

So, what can we do?

Make every moment count. Live fully. Love deeply. And appreciate the present. "In that vein, here are five simple suggestions to help you live a full and meaningful life right now.

1. Think before you speak

Growing up, my Dad had us memorize poems - not just any poems, but poems that taught us meaningful lessons.

Even though we didn't fully appreciate the lessons at the time, we were motivated because he would give us a quarter for every poem we passed off.

Here's one I remember by Will Carleton:

Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds;

You can't do that way when you're flying words.

"Careful with fire," is good advice, we know:

"Careful with words," is ten times doubly so.

Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes fall back dead;

But God Himself can't kill them when they're said.

It's a simple lesson, but it had an impact on me. We can't take back harsh words we speak. So, be careful with what you say, especially to your spouse. Always think before you speak.

Every now and then you might let something slip through your lips you don't mean. When this happens, be quick to say, "I'm sorry."

2. Laugh a little more

Life is great, so enjoy it! Laughter is healthy not only physically but also (and perhaps even more so) emotionally. So laugh. A lot. Out loud.

Laugh with your sweetheart about silly things and about inside jokes the two of you share. Then simply relish the renewing feeling laughter brings.

My wife has taught me to not take myself too seriously. It's okay to let loose, show your silly side and let your hair down.

Your spouse knows you better than anyone else; he knows you inside and out, and he's seen ALL of you, so there's no need to hold back and feel embarrassed.

Just laugh!

3. Express love often

You will never regret telling your husband or wife, "I love you." It's impossible to say it too much. Just as important as saying it is showing it.

So here's a challenge: do something extra today to show your spouse you love her. Put your arm around her and pull her in tightly; do the dishes; give her a flirty touch; fold the laundry; scratch her back while sitting on the couch; push her up against the wall and give her a big fat kiss on the lips.

Just do something! She will love it (and you will too).

Expressing love is a beautiful thing. It is something we could all do a little more of.

4. Be a little kinder

Life gets stressful, people get tired and sometimes short tempers rear their ugly heads.

Do yourself and your spouse and family a favor: Take a deep breath, get some fresh air and relax. Rather than choosing to be snappy and uptight about things, choose to be kind.

It's also important not to jump to conclusions. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Put yourself in his shoes. Doing so will help you appreciate all he does, help you understand him better and help you be kinder and more quick to forgive.

There's plenty of anger, contempt and hate in the world. Marriages, families and the world need more kindness.

5. Remember life is a gift

Whenever I hear a tragic story like the ones above, I remember how precious life is. I remember how quickly it can change. And I'm inspired to live more fully, to live with gratitude in my heart and to live without regrets.

We are only given one life to live. It's important we don't waste the time we have on things that don't matter. It's wise to take time on a regular basis to be still and to prioritize what matters most.

We can learn to live a more full and meaningful life when we rid our lives of things that leave us feeling empty and, instead, fill our lives with things that help us feel full - mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically and relationally.

Life is a gift. It's a blessing to spend it with those we love. Time is our most precious commodity. Once it's spent, there's no getting it back. So, spend your time wisely with your loved ones and make every moment count.

This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.

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