If your “I do’s” could use a tuneup, here are tips to keep your marriage fit and healthy.
Posted in , Feb 8, 2015
When you first say “I do,” it’s easy to find reasons to celebrate marriage.
The mere thought of your spouse makes your heart pound with excitement. Just hearing your mate’s voice causes a big, cheesy grin to sweep across your face. But, are you still celebrating? If you’re no longer in that celebratory mindset, maybe you need Marital Bliss Bootcamp!
Here are five “exercises” that I share when I lead a marriage encounter workshop. If you start doing them today, they could help transform your marriage into a fit, healthy, ripped relationship.
1. Quit beating a dead horse.
In other words, your spouse can’t give you what he or she doesn’t have. Sometimes we try to get something from people that they’re just not able to give.
For example, if your husband wasn’t raised in a healthy, happy home where he received approval, acceptance and affirmation growing up, he may not have those things to give to you.
Sure, he might be able to grow and improve in those areas, but you can’t be resentful or get upset with him as he learns to love you the way you need to be loved. Be patient when he fails in this area, and praise him when he gets it right. But love him no matter what.
2. Don't depend on your spouse to make you happy.
It’s not fair to expect others to keep you happy. Your joy level is your own personal responsibility.
Let’s say you come home from work in a really bad mood, and you grouch your way through dinner and the evening news and finally after hours of your spouse’s attempts to cheer you up, you start to get your joy back.
Now that’s OK once in a while, but if you do this over and over again, that’s not fair to your spouse.
If you’re always depending on your mate to keep you happy, sooner or later that person will let you down and disappoint you because your “better half” is only human. You’ve got to keep yourself happy.
People will disappoint you–even people who really love you. They won’t always be sensitive to your needs. So, instead of running to people, run to God.
Let Him refill your joy tank.
3. Adapt and adjust to keep the peace.
What does that mean? That means you shouldn’t try to change your spouse. But you say, “My spouse really needs changing.” Well, that’s not your job–that’s God’s job. Take your request to God…but beware.
You know what happens when I go to God and pray, “Heavenly Father, please change Jeff. He doesn’t treat me like he should,” God usually shows me how I could treat Jeff better.
You can do little things, make minor adjustments and make a huge difference in your marriage. For instance, if your wife says, “I’ll sure be glad when you get that big project at work done…I hardly ever see you.” Don’t just say, “Yeah, it’s a doozie. I’ll be happy when it’s over, too.”
No, read between the lines and realize that’s your wife’s way of crying out for attention. Recognize her cry and make an adjustment. Get a sitter for the kids and take her out to dinner. Your work will still be there in the morning.
If your husband says, “Nothing I do is ever good enough for you.” Don’t get offended and say, “That’s not true and I resent you for saying that.”
No, realize that your husband is crying out for your approval. Make an adjustment. Put your arms around him and say, “Honey, I am sorry if I’ve been critical of you. I appreciate everything you do for me, and I’m going to try and do better in that area.”
Adapt, make adjustments and keep the peace.
4. Study your mate.
Someone once said, “Anything worth having takes work.” That’s true–especially when it comes to our relationships. You have to work at having a good marriage. It takes effort, but it’s so worth it.
We should make it our business to know what our mates like and dislike. Knowing those things will help us to work with them and not against them. I try to study Jeff, and then I act on that knowledge. He does the same with me.
For instance, I know if I want to bless Jeff, I will cuddle up next to him on the couch and watch the Bassmaster tournament on ESPN. Am I truly interested? Not really, but I like being with Jeff and he likes watching men catch fish.
In the same way, when I’m really excited about the latest children’s story I’ve written, Jeff lets me read it to him and even acts pretty interested. We show each other honor by doing those things.
So, find out your spouse’s likes and dislikes. Study your mate, and act on that knowledge!
5. Do something every day to “love on” your spouse.
Pastors and authors Diana and John Hagee call this practice “O.W.E.” which is an acronym for: One Way Everyday. They make an effort to do something every single day to show each other how much they love one another.
These don’t have to be big gestures of love like whisking your mate off to Maui (but don’t rule that out)!
It might be something as simple as coming home to see your spouse at lunch. Or, it might be helping your wife with the kiddos by putting them to bed one night so she can soak in a tub of bubbles.
Or, women, you might sneak a romantic card into your husband’s briefcase that says how much you love and appreciate him. Be creative and have fun with your daily assignment.
Make a conscious decision today to make your mate feel respected, treasured and adored, and whip your marriage into tip-top shape!
Pray this with me:
Father, help me to be the kind of mate that brings honor to You. Help me to love like You love, and Lord, help us to grow closer to You and to each other every single day. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, Amen.