Happy New Year!! I don’t know about you but every year I have a list of resolutions I make for the new year. They usually include eating healthy, working out daily, keeping my house clean, spending more time with my kids, etc., etc. But when I stop to think about it the one thing that makes my life the happiest besides my relationship with God is having a great marriage. When my marriage is out of whack it feels like my life is out of whack.
This year I’ve come up with 10 resolutions to improve my marriage in 2013. I already do these things just not all the time. I thought I’d share them because when I do all 10 things faithfully my marriage is incredible.
1. Commit to make your spouse number 2 in your life.
Yes I said number 2. God should be number 1 always. When you are following Gods will for your life it’s much easier to do the right thing and honor your commitments. Putting your spouse second means sometimes putting their needs above your own. The world teaches us to look out for ourselves or we’ll get taken advantage of. The bible teaches us to put others needs first and we ”shall reap what we sow. “ One incredibly helpful thing my husband I learned through a counselor was never to do anything the others “enthusiastic agreement”. At first this seemed impossible. What if I wanted to go out with my girlfriends and my husband wasn’t enthusiastic about it. That didn’t seem fair. I had no idea how that could work. I can tell you it does work. It’s a great way to tell if I really am putting my husband first. It is also a huge blessing and reassurance to me to know my husband won’t do anything without my approval. I’ve found this has given us more freedom not less. Because we both feel secure in knowing the other won’t do anything without each others approval.
2. Schedule a planning meeting once a week.
Meet once a week with the intention of planning your upcoming week and checking on the health of your marriage and finances. Ask each other if their needs are being met. What can you do differently or better to make sure your marriage is on track. This isn’t a time to argue about things but a time to make adjustments for the next week. This is also a time to coordinate your calendars, which is especially helpful if you have active kids. Also a time to check the finances and make sure you’re on the same page.
3. Pray together.
A family that prays together stays together. Spending time in prayer everyday with your spouse will bring you so much closer. If this is something new to you, I suggest you get a book such as Stormie Omartians book The Power of Prayer(TM) to Change Your Marriage. It has prayers you can read aloud with your spouse until you’re more comfortable saying your own. Prayer really does have a way of transforming your marriage and your life. Studies have shown that couples who pray together have a stronger relationship and a lower divorce rate. It’s a wonderful thing to share with your spouse. Click here for an article on couples who pray together stay together.
4. Plan and have a date night at least twice a month.
Time together away from the craziness of daily life is essential to a good marriage. If you can’t afford to go somewhere on a date, plan something at home that’s out of the ordinary. When our children were young it was very difficult and expensive to have a night out. We use to wait till the kids were in bed and make an appetizer plate, have a glass of wine and read the book 237 Intimate Questions Every Woman Should Ask a Man. You can choose any book that gets a conversation started but that’s the one we read. You can also search the web for great date ideas at home. Whatever you do just make sure to carve out alone time involving a fun activity twice a month or more.
5. Respond with kindness even when it’s not warranted.
“If you are kind only to someone who is kind to you will God be pleased with you for that? Even sinners are kind to people who are kind to them” Luke 6:33. Usually when someone, especially a spouse is not kind, it rarely has anything to do with you. You’re just the easiest and closest person to take their anger out on. Responding with meanness and anger only adds fuel to the fire. You can’t fight fire with fire. You have no way to control your spouses behavior but you have all the power to control your own actions. No one makes you act mean. If you react with meanness, it is your own fault regardless of how someone else is treating you. When you start responding with kindness even when it feels unwarranted, your whole relationship will change for the better. For one, you will be happier just by doing the right thing and eventually your spouse will change their behavior when they aren’t getting the same reaction from you they are used to.
6. Quit trying to change your spouse and accept them exactly as they are.
Make the decision today to be happy even if your spouse never changes anything. Once you make that decision, you will become someone pleasant to be around and your spouse will probably try to change whatever they can to please you. Remember when you were first dating and your spouse was just perfect? Well they still are. Your perception has just changed and perception is everything. You choose to let things they do bother you. You can also choose to not let it bother you. The choice is yours. Once you accept them and love them as they are, you will be much happier and your marriage will thrive.
7. Turn to prayer before the phone.
If you’re having problems in your marriage don’t run to the phone and call your friends or family. Go to God in prayer and ask for guidance. Ask God to help you see what you can do to change the situation. He may reveal things to you that change your heart or change your spouses. It may feel like he doesn’t do anything at all. Do not call your friends or family – trust God to take care of it. He will.
8. Only speak positively of your spouse and compliment them in front of people.
Stop saying anything negative about your spouse or your marriage. What you talk about you bring about. If you’re talking bad about your marriage, you will bring more bad to your marriage. If you speak good of your marriage, you will bring more good to it. A great book that explains the power of the tongue from a biblical standpoint is about this is Hung by the Tongue: What You Say Is What You Get. Be sure to compliment your spouse in front of other people. Not only does it make your spouse feel good but it makes your marriage stronger. Not only will it make your spouse feel good, but it will make other people view your spouse in a good a way and be more likely to support your marriage. When you’re constantly putting your spouse down and only talking about their bad qualities to your friends and family, they don’t have much reason to support your marriage.
9. Be a united front with the children.
Even if you don’t agree with each other, support your spouse in front of the kids. You can ask to have a word with your spouse in another room and come to an agreement, but always stick together in front of the kids. Not only will your spouse feel supported but your children can not play you against each other. And Never Ever let the children do something your spouse would not agree with and tell them not to tell your spouse. This not only undermines your marriage but also your spouse as a parent.
10. Come up with a budget together and stick to it.
One of the most argued over things in a marriage is finances. It used to be our number one thing to argue about also until we took a class by Dave Ramsey called Financial Peace University. You can purchase the book, or go to the library and check it out. We use the written budget every paycheck and it has stopped all of our financial arguments. We both know where every penny goes and where we are financially after every paycheck. When you’re both on the same page financially and can look at a written list of where the money goes, it tends to stop arguments before they start. There are many programs available to help with finances and most can be checked out at your local library. Once you find a program that works, I suggest you invest in owning the book.
I’d love to hear what resolutions you have for your marriage this coming year and if you’ve implemented any on my list. Please message me or leave a comment on this blog and let me know your thoughts. I wish you and your marriage the best in 2013!