10 tips to improve your marriage now.
There was a point in my marriage that I was just tired. Tired of fighting and tired of trying. It seemed like it didn’t matter what I did it wasn’t good enough. It seemed like divorce was the only option. Looking back I think it’s because I just wanted immediate relief. I think a lot of people feel that way and so they choose divorce just hoping to make the emotional pain stop. Unfortunately, that just leads to a whole lot of other problems. Fortunately, I chose to keep fighting for my marriage, even though I was tired.
I learned the key to restoring a marriage is patience and perseverance. Your marriage didn’t end up the way it is overnight and it won’t be fixed overnight but there are things you can do immediately to start the restoration process. The following is a list of 10 things that I did to fix my marriage. It’s not easy especially when you’re at month 6 of doing these things and not seeing a response from your spouse, (yes it took my husband that long!) But what I learned is it’s really wasn’t about him, it was about me and doing my part regardless of how my husband chose to act or respond.
I hope these 10 tips will help you as much as they did me.
- Stay committed. Don’t give up! Studies show if you just stay together even if you do nothing to improve the situation (which I don’t recommend) most people are happier 5 years down the road. Stay committed to improving yourself and your role in the marriage. The only person you can control is you, so commit to doing whatever you can to make your marriage the best it can be. Just making that commitment to do something will make you feel better and give you hope.
- Pray. Even if you aren’t use to it. Just ask God to help you do what’s right and see what you need to see to improve your marriage. Invite Him to have a role in your marriage. You will be amazed what happens when you let God handle some of your problems. If you’ve never prayed before all you have to say is “Dear God, I invite you into my life and into my marriage. Please help me. Please help me to see what I need to see.” Continue to go to God with simple prayers and then just pay attention to what God is doing in your life.
- Be kind. Even when your spouse doesn’t deserve it. Hurting people hurt other people. If your spouse is completely happy and full of joy they wouldn’t be unkind to you or anyone else. They are being unkind because they are hurting, whether that is your fault or not. If you can learn to not take it personally and treat them with kindness not only will you feel better about yourself, but your relationship will improve.
- Have weekly meetings. Discuss your calendar, family obligations, schedule date nights, go over the budget, discuss issues with the kids and everything else that needs to be organized and handled to run the family. If you tackle these issues weekly and stay on top of them you are much less likely to feel overwhelmed.
- Stop Complaining. About everything, but especially your spouse. Something happens in our brain when we stop complaining. It’s like our brain has to find something else to focus on. If it’s not focusing on something negative then you’ll find something positive. If you are a chronic complainer this will be very challenging. If it seems just too hard at first, try to just pay attention to how much you complain for the first week. Don’t try to change it just notice it. Maybe mark a piece of paper every time you complain or move a penny from one pocket to another just to acknowledge it. Then the following week, stop yourself when you start to complain. It sounds simple but this one thing has changed people’s lives because it changes your attitude.
- Start a grateful journal about your spouse. Write down 3 things every day that like about your spouse. When you start focusing on the positive, it will expand and the negative will diminish. When I first started doing this the only thing I could write was he had nice hair. I was just so upset with him I couldn’t see the good in him. So I wrote about his hair. It’s ok, eventually I started to see all the great things about him and eventually I started intentionally focusing on those things whenever I had a negative thought about him.
- Set date nights with your spouse. Take turns planning. They don’t have to be elaborate and if you don’t have a huge budget, get creative. There are tons of websites out there that have date night at home ideas or date night on a budget. You can do theme date nights, or you can have a friendly competition like who can plan a more creative date night for under $20.00 etc. Just make sure you are intentional about putting them in your calendar and sticking to them.
- Don’t accept what you consider unacceptable behavior. If your spouse is used to calling you names, yelling during fights or using any other form of behavior you think is unacceptable, it’s because it’s been accepted by you in the past. You may have voiced that you didn’t like it, but you didn’t do anything about it so it became acceptable. You need to let them know it’s unacceptable. I am not talking about physical or emotional abuse. If there is any physical or mental abuse you need to get professional help, I am just talking about normal couple fighting and name calling, yelling etc. There are things that don’t classify as abuse that are still unacceptable behavior. Set clear boundaries when you’re not arguing as to what is acceptable behavior for both of you during an argument and then stick to it. The consequences of not sticking to the rules is the discussion stops for an agreed upon period of time until tempers settle down. No exceptions. The behavior is just unacceptable. Boundaries have to be set and rules have to be followed. Come up with a plan ahead of time when you are both calm. Then make sure you follow the rules.
- Apologize for your actions. Apologize if you are grumpy with your spouse. Don’t just expect them to understand because they know what kind of stress you are under. Treat them better than you would a stranger or friend. Always apologize for your role in an argument. Even if you wouldn’t change your actions, apologize for how it made your spouse feel. If you get heated during an argument and yelled or cursed, apologize for the way you acted during the argument. Click here to read how to give a meaningful apology.
- Give without expectations. Once you’ve made a commitment, decided to be kind, stopped complaining, started a journal, and basically started doing a lot of things to improve your relationship it’s normal to expect your spouse to step up and make some changes also. The key is to just make the changes in yourself with no expectations from your spouse. Just love them where they are and give unconditionally. The only person you can change is yourself. If you concentrate on making yourself happy, and being the best spouse you can be, that is all you can do. So do that. Your spouse may change and they probably will, but it may take a long time. It took my husband 8 months. In fact he got worse before he got better. But I didn’t give up. I just kept doing whatever it took to improve myself and my marriage. The key was to have no expectations from him. If I didn’t expect him to change I wasn’t disappointed when he didn’t. I was always happy with myself though when I made huge strides in how I handled situations differently, treated him kind when he didn’t deserve it, followed through on date nights when I didn’t feel like it and didn’t complain for a few days at a time.
I hope these 10 things will help you! If you’d like some tips on keeping yourself happy while doing this, read my other article 10 Steps To Happiness.
Please let me know how you’re doing by commenting below or sending me a personal message from my contact page.