Let’s face it, everyone who is married or hopes to get married someday wants to have a great marriage. In fact, they probably want a phenomenal marriage. The problem is that not everyone knows how to have a great marriage, let alone a phenomenal one.
Maybe great marriage skills were never modeled for you growing up. Maybe you and your spouse started off strong, but your marriage started to drift a bit off track and you’re not sure how to get it back on track. Or maybe you’ve caught yourself wondering if you even married the right person. Marriage is more about being the right person than finding the right person, and we’re going to show you how straightforward it can be.
Take a look at the scale below and rate your marriage from 1-10. Remember this rating is where YOU feel you are right now in your marriage. Your marriage can and will improve if you are intentional to incorporate what we have outlined for you below. Then you can check the scale again in a day, a week, or a month to see how much progress you’ve made.
Regardless of where you are in your marriage today on this scale, here are TEN things you can start doing today that can make a huge difference! (By the way, we made a poster of these ten marriage tips. You can see it below and get a free digital version as well.)
1. Be More Positive
Life is hard. There are bills to pay, relatives to tolerate, and rarely enough time to connect well with your spouse. So what’s a person to do with all of this? As much as you can, you need to learn to be a positive person. There is nothing that negativity will accomplish that positivity can’t do better.
A person with a positive mindset sees strengths and growth opportunities instead of weaknesses. When you train yourself to build on your strengths (as a couple or individually), you will find that you stop focusing on what’s wrong. In marriage, you will accomplish more and have a better marriage if you learn to see more of what’s good and right in your marriage. When couples do this well, they start to feel more connected and more like they are on the same team. Be positive.
2. Honor Your Vows
You might vaguely remember the vows you made on the day you married. There were lots of other things going that day, and in all fairness, you were probably more than a bit distracted. Those vows were essentially promises to love, honor, and cherish your spouse as much as possible. You might be thinking, “Well, some things have changed since that day.” And this is our point exactly. You see, we wouldn't NEED vows if we always felt the way we did on our wedding day. We need vows to remind us to keep our promises on the days when we don’t feel like keeping our promises.
Don’t allow yourself to think, “If things don’t change, then I don’t want to be married.” People with great marriages never think like that. Instead, people with great marriages realize that there is no Plan B. You simply must work things out because you promised to. Wedding vows are the promise of permanence in marriage. That promise, adequately respected, is what makes all the difference in your marriage. This is not always easy, but we never said that having a great marriage was going to be easy. It’s doable and so worth it, but not always easy.
3. Foster Emotional Connection
This sounds more complicated than it is. Emotional connection is a way to build threads of connection between you and your spouse. Build enough threads of connection, and you’ll have a very strong rope holding you together in good times and in difficult times.
Think of this emotional component as empathy. For example, when you take the time to understand how your spouse feels about something (like an awful day at work) and you relate that to something that you already understand (like one of your awful days at work), this allows you to feel some of what they feel. This allows you the empathy to say something like, “Wow, that must have been awful.” And that is how emotional connection is fostered.
Lastly, it’s important to note here that sex without emotional connection is just — sex. But when you have taken the time and effort to foster a deep emotional connection with your spouse, physical intimacy becomes something magical that will only connect you and your spouse at an even deeper level.
4. Meet A Need
We all have needs. You do and your spouse does. And we all want (or even expect) that those needs will be met. What better way to set great things into motion than for you to start being more aware of your spouse’s needs and even meet some of them?
This could very well be one of the simplest items on this list. Does your wife need gas in her car? Why not offer to take care of that for her? Does your husband need a dentist appointment, but has not had the time to make it? Why not offer to make it for him? Kindness begets kindness and this is a gift that will keep on giving.
5. Take Ownership
If you want a great marriage, you must identify and take ownership of your contributions to any problem. As much as we want to blame everything on our spouse (after all, “they are so different from me,” we tend to think), blaming your spouse will never result in a great marriage and will leave you powerless to improve anything.
In any situation, ask yourself what things you can take ownership of and improve. Is your behavior causing issues? Are your words hurtful to your spouse? Are your negative thoughts setting up your spouse for failure? Take ownership of those things and work on improving them, which will improve you, which will improve your marriage.
6. Maintain a Friendship
Every great marriage starts as a great friendship and spouses should learn how to maintain that friendship. Unfortunately, by the time most couples have been married for 5-10 years, it is all too easy for that marriage to feel more like a business arrangement and less like a thriving friendship.
Being friends takes time and intentionality. Remember how the two of your used to talk for hours and hours about nothing and anything? You must create the time and space to continue that kind of friendship. You can do it and you must.
7. Embrace Compromise
For about 20 years now, we have been in the habit of asking older couples their secret to a great marriage. Why older couples? Well, we figure that they must be doing something right to be married for 25 years or more. We simply ask them, “What’s your secret to a happy marriage?”
Over the years, we have asked this question to hundreds of couples and there is one answer that stands out far above the rest. Compromise. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. We always say that in marriage, you will either wear each other out or break each other in. The secret to breaking each other in and doing it well is compromise.
Side note: Tami and I had a good laugh when we realized that we are now one of those “older couples.” At 32 years of marriage and counting, we are clearly in the “married 25 years or more” category!
8. You Need Time Together
We have often said that LOVE is spelled T-I-M-E. If you love your spouse or you know that you should love your spouse more than you currently do, spending quality time together is the answer.
Quality time means two things: It means that you make your time together a priority. And it means that you will often need to plan out your time together. For example, if you are not in the habit of having deep and meaningful conversations, don’t plan a quiet dinner that results in neither one of you knowing what to say. In this case, you should plan out some fun topics of conversation or questions that you can ask each other during your time together. If you love outdoor activities, on the other hand, take the time to plan them well. In these ways, you will get the maximum benefit from your time together.
9. Give Away Grace And Forgiveness
In marriage, each spouse will need to forgive, and be forgiven. You need grace for that. This truth gets out of balance quickly if you have convinced yourself that most of your problems are your spouse’s fault.
When (not if) you need grace and forgiveness for something, you hope to receive them freely without any strings attached or reservations, right? This is why you must give grace and forgiveness in the same manner. As a husband or wife, we don’t forgive because our spouse deserves it, they may not at times. We forgive because a grudge is simply too heavy a burden for us to carry.
10. Learn To Be Intentional
In your marriage, you will either be intentional about having a great marriage or you will drift. It is one or the other and you choose daily which one it is.
This is one of the primary reasons why a couple will go from a 10 (on our Tandem Marriage happy marriage scale above) on the day they married, down to a 5 or below just a few years into their marriage. “What happened?” they will say. As life and it’s challenges crept in, they forgot to be intentional to keep their relationship on track.
Avoid the drift, learn to be intentional.
Now it’s up to you. We dare you to try to incorporate several (if not all) of these things into your daily marriage routine. You will be surprised by how quickly your marriage starts moving towards phenomenal (which is a 10 out of 10!).
Now that you have worked through this little exercise yourself, have your spouse rate your marriage too. You shouldn’t be surprised when your spouse rates your marriage higher or lower than you did. This is normal since each spouse will view things through their own lens.
Now go and make your marriage great! But why should you stop at having a great marriage (8 out of 10) when a phenomenal marriage (10 out of 10) is so close and within reach. By the way, no one can sustain a phenomenal marriage at all times, but that shouldn’t stop you from having it as your goal. Having a great marriage all of the time and a phenomenal marriage some of the time is pretty awesome if you ask us.
We commissioned a poster inspired by this article which you can see below. We would love to send you a free digital version of this poster and will do exactly that if you sign up for our email list by going to this page of our website. Also, we will send you a sweet deal on buying a hand-painted version of this poster done exclusively by one of our sign-building partners, One Girl Design Shoppe. It is quite amazing in person!
If you have any comments or questions about this post, we would love to hear from you in the comments below.
By Brad & Tami Miller. Contact us at brad@TandemMarriage.com. Copyright © 2017
Link to: https://tandemmarriage.com/10things