What makes you feel like an exceptional spouse?
Read that again.
I don't want to know what your spouse expects you to do for them, or what you think it looks like to be an exceptional spouse.
What do you do for your spouse that sets your soul on fire?
When Brett comes home to a "clean" house - my soul does this silly little dance like a baby who is hearing music for the first time that makes them want to move in ways they haven't yet.
Brett works hard to provide for our family and so that I can stay home to raise our little humans. When he comes home and the dishes are done, laundry is washed, and there is minimal work left to do - whoa. My giddiness level is through the roof.
My exceptionalism is based on what makes me feel such a way. No one else's definition of an exceptional partner in crime will be the same as yours or mine. They may be similar, but we all have our own definitions.
Focus on those things and do them knowing the end result will bring you joy. The joy you get from feeling your love and making it known you enjoy being their spouse does exceptional things for a marriage.
Does that mean you don't have to do the things that don't make you feel that way? Whether it's doing the dishes, taking a turn staying up all night with a less than cooperative baby, or helping load wood in from outside; you should most definitely still do them. A marriage is a partnership and it takes two people, not just one to pull the load.
Spend more time focusing on what you do for your spouse that sparks joy for you. Learn each other's things. What makes your person feel like they're being exceptional?
Is it getting you flowers just because, or drawing you a bubble bath and taking the kids to play while you soak in peace? Find out. Work together to remember what sparks joy for the other person. Give your marriage an opportunity to flourish.
Make time for each other and seek out opportunities to grow. You will never regret watering your marriage. The grass is not greener on the other side. It is Greener where you water it consistently and with joy and tender loving care.