Making My Marriage Great: 5 Tips that Will Make a Difference
It could be that your marriage is broken – not working with no forward momentum. Or perhaps, your marriage is okay but struggling at times. But, even if your marriage does have momentum, maybe you’d like to finetune it so that it runs more smoothly. Here are five ways to repair and improve your relationship.
- Accept responsibility for your part.
These ways to help your marriage thrive are not easy. As the saying goes, “They are simple, but not easy!” Accepting responsibility for your part is the first step. You can’t control your spouse’s actions. You can’t control your spouse’s attitudes. You can’t keep your spouse in love with you. You couldn’t force them to fall in love with you. You can’t force them to stay in love with you. You don’t have control over that. But you do have control over your response. The only way you can affect change is by changing yourself, which changes your relationship’s dynamics. When you’re different, your spouse will be given the opportunity to relate to you in a new way. It all begins with you.
Non – productive behaviors and attitudes prevent you from changing and thus keep you and your relationship stuck. Some of those behaviors are:
- Having a pity party.
- Comparing your marriage to others.
- Complaining about your marriage.
- Blaming your spouse for your unhappiness.
- Daydreaming about a different relationship.
- Believing the myth of incompatibility.
The last point calls incompatibility a “myth.” Here’s what two of the top psychologists and marriage experts in the world have to say about it:
Paul Tournier, the Swiss psychiatrist who wrote Understanding Each Other, said, “So-called incompatibility is a myth invented by judges in order to make a plea for divorce. It’s like a common excuse for people to hide their failings. Misunderstandings and mistakes can be corrected if there is a willingness to do so.” He’s saying that there’s no such thing as incompatibility. What it really is, is immaturity!
Dr. Paul Popineau, the director of the Institute of Family Relationships who’s written dozens of books on marriages, says, “I don’t believe incompatibility. I don’t believe it exists. Almost any two people are compatible if they try to be.”
Do what you can to change and adjust and grow. Accept responsibility for your part in the marriage or relationship.
- Have hope that your marriage can be changed.
It could be that you are feeling a deep hurt and pain in your relationship. It could be that what you feel is disappointment. Maybe what you’re feeling is apathy. It could be that you believe that there is no hope for your marriage. Many couples who come to Love Recon are looking for signs of hope for their relationship. They are hoping for hope. Regardless of how you feel about your marriage or relationship, there is hope! If you are a follower of Jesus, remember His words in Matthew 19:26: “Humanly speaking it is impossible, but with God everything is possible.” It’s risky, but dare to open yourself to hope. Regardless of your spouse’s attitude, examine your own heart and deal with yourself and God concerning hope for your marriage.
- Commit to doing whatever it takes.
If your broken marriage is going to get better, if your struggling marriage is going to begin to improve, if the good marriage that you have is going to become a great marriage, it’s going to take real effort. It will take humility. It will take honesty. It will take unselfishness. It will take persistence and faith. More than anything, it will take time. Great relationships come out of all these things being applied over time. If your relationship is in trouble, struggling right now, it didn’t get there overnight. It took a lot of time. And it’s going to take a lot of time for it to begin to improve. So don’t give up too soon!
The truth is it will cost you to have a great marriage. But it will cost you much, much more to go through a divorce! You may be thinking, “I don’t think I have the capacity emotionally to do this. That is more effort and energy than I am willing to expend. I don’t even know if I want this relationship to work.” Take it one day at a time. Talk with a counselor, pastor, or relationship coach. Seek to grow personally and draw on the emotional, psychological, and spiritual resources available to you. If the time comes that your marriage must end, you don’t want to be left wondering if you should have done more or tried harder.
- Practice forgiveness.
There are two main ways to deal with unresolved hurt: Asking for forgiveness and offering forgiveness. Forgiving your spouse will release you from the bitterness, anger, and resentment blocking the love in your life. Through forgiveness, you take your life back and begin to breathe your own air. Forgiving is not the same thing as trusting your mate. If trust has been broken, then it must be earned. Forgiving is not the same thing as reconciliation. In a marriage, the hope is for reconciliation, but that is not always the outcome.
You can learn three essential phrases in a relationship – phrases that we all have to learn to say if a relationship is to work. Those phrases are: “I am sorry. I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
It would help if you learned to ask for forgiveness, but you also need to offer forgiveness. Your marriage will not make it without forgiveness on a daily basis! We are all imperfect and fail in small ways daily and in more significant ways periodically. Therefore, we must forgive each other quickly so that anger, bitterness, and resentment do not build a wall between us.
- Get support from others.
Find people in your life who will support working on and strengthening your marriage. Our culture tends to work against building solid marriages. When things are hard, many voices would say, “Just get out. You need to be happy. It shouldn’t be this hard.” It is tempting to accept this advice and think, “Well, maybe I should get out.”
Caution: Your parents are some of the worst people to go to when your marriage is in trouble. They will invariably take your side in things. You can’t expect them to be objective. As a result, they will give you slanted advice that may do more harm than good to your relationship. They also could develop negative attitudes and feelings about your mate that will make things awkward and complicated after you have reconciled or worked through your issues.
If possible, find an older couple whose marriage you admire to mentor you. Engage a relationship coach who can help you both work together to build a functional marriage and reach your relationship goals. Attend a marriage seminar, conference, or retreat. The point is don’t go through it alone. Find the support and encouragement that you need. Enlist help from others to have a successful and great relationship.