15 ways to change your marriage for better

12/28/18

 

A couple days ago Aaron and I celebrated our 15-year anniversary. I have often wondered about marriages that have ended in divorce. You know the ones where the couple has been married 20-30 years. It’s been on mind a lot actually. Here are my thoughts on this. The longer you are married, the quicker and easier it is to forgive. With that, it also gets easier to throw in the towel.

My husband and I are very compatible. We get along great. Marriage probably comes a little easier for us just because we get along so well. Even with this, we are not exempt from the feeling of wanting out sometimes. In honor of the 15 years, I have come up with 15 things that have helped us tremendously.

  1. Complacent – Complacency in your relationship is being ok with the way things are and choosing not to be aware of what your spouse might be feeling or what reality is. Choose instead to be purposeful in your relationship.

  2. Be intentional – If you have children you may recognize this famous line, “I didn’t mean too!” My response to this is, “I know, but I need you to mean to.” When it come to your spouse, you have to “mean to”. Be intentional in your actions and words.

  3. Choose to cherish – Yes, this is a choice! You absolutely must choose to cherish your spouse. It is not just a feeling, it is an action. I often think about how fortunate I am to have this person in life that is all mine. I get to love on him and cherish him. No one else gets this privilege. I ask myself, what can I do to make my spouse feel completely adored. Change your perspective. Choose to cherish and adore your spouse. It’s an honor and privilege.

  4. Go the extra mile – It is so easy to be lazy in marriage. Especially if you have a super awesome spouse. I have to choose to go the extra mile, die to my selfish desires and bless my husband instead. I always tell the kiddos, that if they show up on time, they are already late. I tell them always show up early. Showing up on time is the minimum requirement. Always do more than what is required in your relationship. Go above and beyond. Not 100%, 200%!

  5. It’s about commitment – When I was engaged to be married, I saw a Christian lady I knew at the store. I had mentioned that I was getting married and asked if she would like to help me plan the wedding. It became obvious, really quick, that she was not interested. She said matter-of-factly, “Marriage isn’t about love, It’s about commitment!” Initially it was hurtful to hear her say that with such lack of support, but it is something that I have always carried with me and remembered. It keeps me on guard. I have realized that she is right. I still love my spouse, even when I am mad at him. Most people still love their spouse even after they get a divorce. At the end of the day, it is about how committed you are to your spouse and how committed you are to doing everything else on this list.

  6. Slow to speak, quick to listen – I can’t tell you how many times we could have avoided an argument if we would just follow this simple wisdom from the bible. If we can take a moment, be calm and quit worrying about our reputation and defending ourselves, we will be able to actually hear what our spouse is trying to say. Which usually makes sense and is more than likely a misunderstanding.

  7. Listen to hear, not to respond – Sometimes when communicating with our spouse, we just can’t wait to put in our two cents worth. When your spouse is talking, you want to listen to understand their heart and really hear what they are trying to say. You should always be a safe place for your spouse to share their feeling without worrying about what might happen or wonder if their words are going to be twisted up.

  8. It’s not against flesh and blood – The Bible says that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Realize that the enemy is always at work. He is only here to kill, steal and destroy. He doesn’t want your marriage healthy. He wants you divided. Try to remember that it is not your spouse, it is the enemy doing his work. If you think it is your spouse, you just might be deceived too.

  9. Know the statistics - When Aaron and I got married, I read somewhere that the average age for a child whose parents were going through divorce, was 12. Right smack dab in the middle of puberty. This is no doubt the hardest time a child has in life. The time where kids need both of their parents to be there for them. The huge amount of hormones now traveling through their body in order to help them transition into an adult can cause things like depression, tiredness, loneliness, headaches, awkwardness, suicidal thoughts and a whole list of other things. Now throw in a divorce. It is good to be up on the facts about statistics. It has helped me stay determined to work things through with my spouse, because I know the risk involved when it comes to my kiddos. A risk I am not willing to take.

  10. Let God rule your heart – There is only room for one. You can let God rule your heart, or you can let the enemy. Someone is going to be in there. Who are you going to be representing? God or the enemy?

  11. Only listen to what God has to say – You will have plenty of thoughts coming in your brain about your spouse. I want to caution you on which ones you listen to. If it is negative, it’s the enemy. God only speaks through grace. Only listen to his thoughts.

  12. Be gracious – A couple of years ago I was struggling with my faith. I sat down with my husband and I let him know that I wasn’t sure if I believed anymore and told him that I needed time to figure it out. I imagine that he didn’t really like what I was telling him, but his response was so gracious. He said ok and he continued in his walk and he never judged me. He supported me. Thankfully it only took me a couple of days to come to my senses. But, sometimes we need a day or 2 or even longer to come to our senses when we are discouraged or deceived. Remember God’s grace when your spouse needs it.

  13. Call them out – Along with grace, comes a boldness that is needed to call out your spouse when they are not acting righteously. Some women stay quiet because they don’t want to disappoint their husband. Some men stay quiet because they feel like they are walking on eggshells. It is our job to help keep our spouse on the straight and narrow. And it is their job to help us. We do not have to like it! We just have to listen. If me or my husband are not doing our best parenting, we expect each other to hold us accountable and keep the higher standard. This holds true for all of our relationships as well as our integrity. Iron sharpens iron.

  14. Speak life – The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. Your words to your spouse can speak life or death. Here is the catch, not only do you need to speak life, you need to speak it to be genuine. It is easy to focus on the bad and find something critical to say. If you find yourself thinking negative about your spouse, flip it and say the same thing in a positive view. When Aaron and I first got married and we had just moved in together, he overloaded the washer. When I mentioned it to him he said, “I just figured since it was already too full, that I would go ahead and throw the last few things in there.” Haha, this is a joke between us now, but at the time I never wanted him to do laundry again! I am sure that his perspective has changed by now. If I find that he is doing a load of clothes, sometimes I have said, no don’t worry about the clothes, I will do them. Now I say, thank you so much for doing the laundry. It is so nice of you to think about me. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if it wasn’t done the way I would do it. But he matters and how he feels matters. So we have to be intentional about speaking life over our spouse and be careful to not do the opposite.

  15. Build up – I love that verse in the bible that says, a wise women builds her house. For a long time I thought that meant that all I had to do was be patient, kind loving, etc. But, no! The word is build. You have to actually build something. We need to take the time to gather the materials and put it together. What are you building in your relationship with your spouse? Are you just maintaining it or are you building something, investing in it? Honestly, I don’t want a single family home. I want a mansion! The second part of that verse says, “But a foolish one tears it down.” Let me tell you this, if you are not building, you are letting it go to ruins.

What are some things that have helped you?