I don’t know about you, but the start of a new year always inspires me to take stock of the areas of my life that I’d like to pay more attention to. Goals I want to achieve. Ways I want to be different.
It’s really inspiring.
The problem is that I want to change, to be and do better, but my life somehow stays the same.
Why is that?
One reason I think is that we don’t always equip ourselves with the tools to help us make the changes we want. We don’t really know what to do to adopt different habits that actually stick.
I think back to this time last year. My husband and I had committed to focusing more time on our marriage. We had a full theme song and everything…Beyonce’s Love on Top.
We danced to the song. We listened to the words. And the commitment was really there. Really it was.
But somehow real life crept in between the verses and the hook, and our love was anything but on top. In hindsight, it was such a vague and huge goal. And quickly, we got back into the same old habits, running here and there, missing each other, wanting to connect, but not actually able to do so in the way we had hoped.
Maybe you can relate.
Let this be the year we really do things differently. Let’s focus in on 5 specific things that will make our marriages stronger and better in 2016. Here they are:
#1. Have a Marriage Check-in.
Each 3rd of the month, we celebrate our “anniversary.” We were married on September 3rd and so that day holds special meaning for us. We take time to discuss our marriage sharing 3 things that we appreciate about each other or our relationship. Sometimes we incorporate a discussion of what we could be doing to make our relationship even better.
I offer this idea to you now, not so much for you to replicate it exactly in your own marriage, but just as a reminder that at some point, we need to pause and really take stock of what’s great and what can be improved in our relationship. Even if you only are able to do this once a year, it will make a huge difference. Now again, this may be one of those areas where you could use some support or a specific list of things to discuss. How do you event do a Marriage Check-in? Well I have something for you that will help you do just that!
It’s called the Marriage Maintenance Guide: 10 Questions to Keep Us Strong. It’s a set of check-in questions you can use to keep or get your marriage back on track this year. It’s FREE!
#2. Look Inward.
If I were to ask you “What are the things you’d like your husband to do differently?” I’m sure in 30 seconds you could come up with a pretty long list. Now if I were to ask you “What are the things you could be doing differently in your marriage?” maybe it would take you a bit longer to some up with the same size list.
It’s natural to be able to quickly point out the faults in others. Especially our husbands because 9 times out of 10 his behavior or way of being has a direct impact on us. “If he would only…” I know, that pops into my head often as well.
So this year, I encourage you to turn the question inward. What are the things you know you should be doing, but haven’t yet? How can you be more patient, loving and kind? I’m not suggesting a complete overhaul, but maybe you can find one thing that you will focus on to be a better wife. And each time you want to complain or criticize something your husband is doing or not doing, you can instead focus on you. After all, you are the only person you have control over.
#3. Let it go and move forward.
If you’ve been together longer than 2 minutes, I’m sure you husband has done or said something to hurt your feelings. A time where you felt unappreciated, disrespected, or plain disregarded. Maybe trust has been violated, maybe he lied or cheated, or betrayed you in some other way. Whatever it is, you are holding on to some past hurt that is breeding resentment.
Honey, it’s time to let it go and move forward.
If you are waiting for an apology in order to move forward, stop. You are the only person who can move yourself forward. And moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting and it doesn’t mean you excuse their behavior.
The past is over. What happened cannot be undone. But if you replay it over and over again, you get stuck there, while your present life is passing you by.
Make the decision to let it go because it’s only holding you back.
#4. Schedule quality time together.
For some, a real date night is something you may just be dreaming about. As you see your friends posting about nice dinners with their husbands, fun vacations without the kids, adult-only parties, you know that right now, it’s just not your reality. There are few people you trust with your children, and you don’t want to push your luck with their generosity. Your schedule and your husband’s schedule are so opposite that if you see him in the bed for 5 minutes that’s a major accomplishment.
But quality time together doesn’t always mean a formal date night, and it doesn’t mean you even have to leave the house. It could be as simple as watching a TV show together, or having a meaningful conversation as you both commute to work. Maybe you get up early and have breakfast together, or stay up late and share a nightcap. Quality time is about making connection. Feeling that you know what’s going on in each other’s lives so you can support and help each other. It’s focusing on the two of you as a team. But you cannot leave it to chance or to “when you have time.” The time will never come if you don’t set it aside.
#5. Pray with and for each other.
I’m sure you’ve heard it a thousand times, there is power in prayer. Prayer is one of the most intimate forms of communication. And for some, the thought of praying out loud is scary enough, and the thought of praying with your spouse is downright terrifying! There is fear of am I doing this right, and a vulnerability that comes from sharing the innermost thoughts of your spirit. But it is one of the most powerful things you can do to keep your marriage strong.
If this is new to you, start out just saying a prayer of thanks. Sharing with God together, all that you are thankful for. It doesn’t have to be long, you don’t need to say it a certain way, and you don’t need to memorize any scripture. Just simply say, “Lord, we want to thank you for…” Then maybe another day, you pray for your marriage, asking that God would keep you bonded together with love, open communication, forgiveness, and compassion.
The idea is to come together as a unit before God. This will give you spiritual intimacy and open your eyes to a completely new side of each other.
And in either your time together, or in your private time, say a prayer for your spouse with the intent that God would bless them in specific ways.
Maybe some of these are things you are already doing, or maybe you appreciate the reminder to start. Wherever you are, make a commitment to doing something to improve your marriage. It’s the most valuable asset you have.
And don’t forget that free resource I created for you.