Many good marriages slip into crisis because we don’t or won’t believe how much work it takes to keep relationships humming at optimal levels. Another reason is a simple failure in imagination.
But, if successful courting requires commitment, hard work, and imagination to pull off… then why does it surprise us when neglect hurts relationships after we walk down the aisle? He wouldn’t have married you if you took him for granted
1. Pray for your spouse. Chances are, you launched your marriage with both promises and prayers. Pray for your husband and ask for guidance as you pledge to make the kind of effort that simply won’t float without turning to God every day.
2. Surround yourselves with people in healthy relationships. Some of those negative patterns involved friends. Hook up with a faith community where marriage is valued and there’s widespread support for making yours work.
3. Choose to love. Love may have come easy when it was brand new. But love over the long haul is as much a choice as it is an emotion. Choice is an act of maturity and it has a much better track record than emotion left to make its way on its own.
4. Act as if your spouse’s happiness is more important than your own. Putting your husband first nurtures trust, gratitude, generosity and affection. It can also lead to kissing!
5. Put the relationship ahead of everything, including your children. It’s unfortunate, but time has a way of eating away at our priorities. “You’re the most important thing in my life” gives way to “My work…the family business…the children…my aging parents…even shopping, gossiping or drinking…” Marriages don’t work well when our partner plays second fiddle to anything – even the children. It’s a fact; the happiest kids are those with parents who love one another best.
6. Start over from scratch. Ask him out. Make sure you remember why you did the first time and build from there. When did you last talk for hours, hold hands at a movie, or smooch behind a plant in the mall? Get silly about one another. If you don’t feel like it, do it anyway; then you’ll remember why.
7. Stop taking one another for granted. Say “thank you” for that cup of coffee. Celebrate obscure anniversaries. Tell him how much it means to you that he cooks a great meal, or vice versa. Ask him out. Clean his car. Pay attention to the little things and act like someone who values the relationship.
8. Get counseling. You say you can’t afford it? Believe us, it’s cheaper than divorce! Most counseling simply involves a few sessions to get the communication flowing again. For girls, a willingness to talk in that context sends a huge positive message to your spouse.
9. Follow the counseling with an action plan. Just like a personal fitness program, counseling comes with homework and an action plan over time. Draw up the plan, ask friends you trust to help hold you accountable, and then follow through. When both spouses take responsibility, anything is possible.
10. Change the patterns. Do you always come home angry? If so, stop the car a block away and pray about it first. Does he always nag you when you leave dirty dishes in the sink? Try getting changed in a different room and initiate a new reflex. Do you always fight about discipline? Try agreeing with his decisions and supporting him 100%. You may find the kids act better because you’re not fighting.