Sunday, November 15, 2015

5 Ways To Improve Your Marriage

There are so many tips and ideas for improving a marriage. These are just a few ideas I’ve learned from my own 21 year marriage, as well as observing the marriages of those around me.

1.    Don’t criticize your spouse. ESPECIALLY in public.

Criticizing is a harmful cycle to get into. When we criticize, it usually ends up backlashing on us, instead of doing the thing we intended it to do – getting our partner to acknowledge or change a pattern or behavior.  It’s especially embarrassing when I witness one spouse criticize the other in public. I can only imagine how embarrassing it is for that individual, as well!

When we criticize, it creates hurt feelings. Our spouse will have a sour taste in their mouth for us, instead of focusing on the true issue at hand.

2.    Don’t forget small kindnesses.

The longer you’ve been married, the more comfortable you get with one another. Comfort is good, but not so much comfort that you forget what it’s like to tend to one another. Remember when you were dating and you met each other’s needs and did little things for each other? Those gestures go a long way in a marriage. If one spouse is especially tired or needs encouragement, leave them a special note in a hidden spot where they will find it. Do a chore for them, “Just because” they always do it! Think about how nice it would be to go and do something you always do, only to find it already done! Small kindnesses are so inexpensive and easy to do. Their lasting effects on a marriage can not be overemphasized enough.

3.    Forgive and swallow your pride.

Swallowing our pride is a hard, hard thing. But we can’t move forward in our marriages without sometimes swallowing that thing down – no matter how much it hurts. Forgiving and swallowing pride allow room for error. And we all make errors! They allow room for growth. They force us to become more humble and generous.  Marriage should be teamwork. So if your spouse wins at something, you win too. And vice versa. It should be a “win-win” for both partners as they seek to put each other first.

4.    All marriages have bad seasons.

There will be ups and downs in your marriage walk together. You will be “in sync” and “out of sync” with each other. You will want different things at times. It’s normal and it’s natural.  Just because these things happen, don’t panic! They don’t mean you’re headed for a divorce. These are just times you need to work through as a couple. Acknowledge them.  Sometimes the only thing you can do, is promise your spouse you will keep trying to be on the same page as them. Then, you continue to be committed to one another until something clicks and the bad season fades away. It’s a cycle. Because we are human, we all stretch and grow. So do marriages.

5.    Pray.

There may be no greater gift that you can give your spouse than prayer. Sometimes we need to fight for someone we love, when they can’t fight for themselves. Prayer does this.   There may be issues that you aren’t ready to discuss with your spouse, but you can discuss with the Lord. God can prepare your heart (or theirs). He can protect them, give them wisdom, guidance, encouragement…. So many, many things! Prayer can improve your marriage in mighty, mighty ways.

I believe that marriages make us better people. We have to adapt, stretch, grow, be selfless, and I also think they make us healthier people because of that love and accountability we have with our spouse.

The grass is always greener where you water it. So if you want to improve your marriage (and every marriage can always improve), never stop watering. Continue to look for ways to better yourself personally, as well as a couple. 

There is no investment that is greater than family.

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