Cleavers! While we’re making plans and setting those goals for an amazing 2020 and beyond, have you set any marriage goals for the year? How can we have a better marriage – one that’s stronger, greater, more fulfilling, more loving, sexier, fun, peaceful, exciting, solid as a rock?
Think that’s a tall order? Not for our “exceeding, abundantly, above all” we can ask or think God! This list just scratches the surface of the abundance Jesus came to give His followers (John 10:10).
Now. Of course, a more financially stable, healthy eating, re-dedicated to Lord spouse is on his or her way to a better marriage. However, I want us married folks to remember that a great marriage requires focus and attention on the marriage and your spouse – not just attention on Self. “New me” goals are great, but the changes or betterment we want to see in our marriages are not just fasted and prayed into existence – they take intentional, consistent work.
Put some work where your love is.
After 25 years of marriage, I get it. It’s easy to grow complacent and retreat to your marriage comfort zone. You may feel like, “I got her now”, “We’re good!”, or “He’s not going anywhere.” Cleavers, we have to be careful with letting our guard down and going to sleep in our unions.
If there’s one place that the enemy can sow discord and discontent, and reap the negative benefits in countless other places – it’s in our marriages.
The family is typically a soft target, but let’s start at the top and seal every small crack that could turn into a larger problem. Ready?
40 Tips for a Better Marriage for Every Spouse
Let’s begin with this truth: There’s no 50/50 in marriage.
Everyone’s in the game to give 100% – even if your spouse is at 20%, 50% or holding out at 95%. So this list is not meant to be divided – 20 for me, 20 for you LOL! All 40 efforts are for the husband and the wife (in no particular order). Let’s go!
- Increase your listening skills. Become an active listener, even if you think you know what your spouse is going to say.
- Become more self-aware. When we’re on marriage cruise control, we’re less aware of our actions and behaviors. Re-center.
- See more good in the little things. Appreciate the small or little acts of kindness you receive from your spouse. They’ll give you more.
- Be more courteous. It’s still appropriate to say please, thank you, you’re welcome and “yield the right of way” no matter how long you have been together.
- Spend less time on social media. Social media can be a time-drain to any area of life, including our marriage.
- Tell your spouse exactly what you need. No more “read between the lines” or dropping hints – be clear and honest about what you need. Say it, in love.
- Have date nights more often. Whether you go out or stay in – have some “us time” together – away from work, the kids… date again.
- Compliment your spouse. Your husband or wife likes compliments – let them hear it from you first.
- Compromise for your spouse. Marriage is sacrificial – put your wants and your way on the back burner for your spouse (Ephesians 5:22-28).
- Ask what your spouse is thinking or feeling. Lay down assumptions and claims of “you think…” or “you feel like…” Ask them what and how they feel.
- Agree to disagree. Allow your spouse to have a different opinion. Non-essential issues don’t have to be WWIII.
- Seek counseling. Purpose and plans can rise and fall with or without counsel. It’s wise to seek help when all else hasn’t worked.
- Keep your word. Marriage is not intended to be the graveyard of broken promises. Do what you said you would do and re-negotiate when needed.
- Set budget/money goals. Sit down and go over your house budget, set spending limits, note who’s paying for what, which bank accounts, set savings goals…
- Set a time limit for speaking during and for the duration of arguments. Fights happen. Fight fairer with a stopwatch for equal speaking time and cap on fight duration.
- Send more “just because” texts. Text “i love you” or something surprising to your wife or husband.
- Respect your spouse. Know how your spouse defines respect for themselves and give them all you got and then some.
- Rest, vacation together. Burnout can make emotions flair and cause confusion – where the real issue is you need a break.
- Have more sex and/or negotiate. Turn up the heat more often. Make time. Time for new lingerie? Be spontaneous. And when you can’t, communicate why and how long – that’s Bible lol (1 Corinthians 7:5).
- Spend time apart. Give your spouse a chance to miss you, keeps your love fresh.
- Increase non-sexual intimacy. Touch, hold, caress your spouse and simply enjoy their presence – without intercourse. What does your spouse’s heartbeat sound like? Their breath?
- Give a just-because gift. You don’t have to break the bank to let your spouse know you were thinking about them.
- Show your spouse that you have his/her back. When opposition comes against your spouse (spiritually or naturally), be his or her safe place when they’re up against trying times.
- Say no or yes when you really mean it. Communicate honestly. Don’t say yes when you want to say no, or that you like something when you really don’t.
- Create a marriage or family mission statement. What were you and your spouse joined together to accomplish? Write it down and make it a focus.
- Give your spouse space to voice complaints. Are you holding your spouse hostage to only communicate the good and pray about the bad? Let your husband or wife voice issues they may have.
- Add a solution to every complaint. When you complain, also offer a remedy. What will make things better, or make you whole?
- Protect each other’s peace. Don’t push your spouse’s nuclear buttons, or allow others to do so either. Be their DE-escalator.
- Speak the truth in love. It’s not always what you said, it’s how you said it. Be honest – without the brutality. Practice empathy and kindness.
- Give credit where it’s earned. Never hold back acknowledgment when your spouse does something you want, something good, etc. – even if you think it’s their reasonable service.
- Let past issues stay in the past. Unless you’re giving God thanks for where He has brought you two, keep past issues in the past. Never weaponize past offenses or hold them as leverage.
- Compare your relationship with no one else’s. What works in the marriage of your close friends or on social media may not work for you. Marriage is personal, do the personal work together.
- Keep emotionally unstable friends out of your arguments. If you know your boys or your girlfriends aren’t clear and balanced thinkers with resolve and peace in mind, don’t share the latest hot argument between you and your spouse.
- Stay on each other’s team. It’s you and your spouse against the world – forsaking all others. Show them that they’re the priority in your life.
- Make room in your spouse’s life for others. Celebrate and create space for your spouse to fellowship with others.
- Admit when you’re wrong. Crucify pride. If you did it, own it, fix it.
- Laugh more. Lighten up the marriage. Be silly, let your hair down. Life is filled with funny, silly moments to enjoy together.
- Discern when advice is welcomed. Everything your spouse shares is not an opportunity for you to solve his or her problem. Save the advice-giving when solicited.
- Add extreme change to every apology. An apology is most effective when accompanied by changed behavior. Don’t scream “I’m sorry”, scream behavior that’s different with new boundaries, tools, or resources.
- Give your spouse over to God. We can’t fix what we didn’t make. Don’t try to fix your spouse and end up doing more damage – take them before the throne of God.
**Bonus! Don’t try to solve spiritual problems by physical, earthly means. If your spouse is dealing with spiritual issues/warfare, no amount of sex, fun, vacations, money, laughter, or date nights will deliver them from the issue. Some issues require prayer and fasting, worship together, repenting together… even prayer alone. Know that God is able.
So, What’s the Play Call?
Remember, no two marriages are alike! So, take this list and get together with your spouse – define what these tips look like for you and create the path that leads to success in your marriage. Do so, of course, in submission to God as the loving head of both of you (Genesis 1:28, 1 John 4:8)
Here’s to richer, greater, better, abundant CLEAVING in 2020 and beyond!