Would you admit that you started out thinking marriage was going to have very few difficult moments and overall your vision was much bliss and fairytale vibes?!
I’ll admit it. I honestly thought marriage would be so much easier than dating.
With four years of dating behind us, I pictured our foundation being unshakeable, and secure enough to carry us through anything, especially any difficult time.
Although a solid foundation of friendship IS great, my vision of marriage didn’t require so much effort. But it’s like Levi Lusko says, “marriage is spelled w-o-r-k.”
At 20, I was immature and selfish when we vowed forever.
Reality smacked me in the face and I had a big pity party. [I’m a recovering narcissist.]
Four years in, there was a wake up call; which is a story for another time.
It pushed me to put in the effort required to flourish our marriage.
I read books and articles, put advice to practice, and made the conscious choice to make my husband a priority.
Seven and a half years in we were rebuilding from scratch; another story for another time.
I vowed to put in even more effort.
Over a year later, there are still days I fail. There are full weeks I fail.
But my encouragement to you is the same encouragement I repeat over and over to myself : progress not perfection.
In all my progress I’ve come across plenty of articles and books with all sorts of advice on ‘how to make your marriage better than ever.’
In this post, I’ve gathered a compilation of some encouragement I’ve found through my research and own desire for a flourishing marriage.
Is it possible to make your marriage better than ever? Absolutely!
It’s all up to you and the efforts you’re willing to put in.
Proceed with understanding that personal pruning is involved.
The pruning process is not to harm you, but to blossom the fruit of your labor.
Let’s get started…
Why am I married to my spouse?
A lot of times we forget our why.
Why did we marry them?
Why are we still married to them?
Take some time and remember your why.
Write it down.
Now, let’s think about the basic concept of marriage for a second.
According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition marriage is :
The legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.
Some synonyms : alliance, fusion, or partnership.
A quick google search for ‘the purpose of marriage’ pops up hundreds of articles, mostly stating “The primary purpose for marriage is fellowship, companionship, and a mutual help and comfort.”
After reading those definitions, go back to your why.
Is your why complicated or pretty basic?
Are the expectations you have on your spouse on par with companionship and a mutual help and comfort? Or are you expecting more?
Let’s look at a few people’s personal definitions of marriage :
“Marriage is the adventure of discovering one another so you can share body, mind, and spirit intimacy.” Linda Dillow
“”You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy.”
My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.
No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams.
Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?””
Seth Adam Smith – Marriage Isn’t For You
“The whole point of marriage is to encourage your partner’s development and have them encourage yours.” Carol Dweck
Go back to your why.
Rewrite it if you need to.
Let your spouse know you’ve been putting unrealistic expectations on them and you’re getting back to the basics of why you married in the first place, and why you LOVE being married to them still.
What’s it like to be married to me?
Last year I read the book “What’s It Like To Be Married To Me? – and other dangerous questions” by Linda Dillow.
Take an honest glance at yourself and ask, what’s it like being married to me?
What’s it like to wake up next to me?
What’s it like to fight with me?
What’s it like to travel with me?
What’s it like to have sex with me?
What’s it like to not enjoy the dinner I made?
What’s it like to parent with me?
Write it all down.
Honestly, what do you think it’s like to be married to you?
Have you ever asked your spouse, “How can I make your day better?”
According to this article, asking that simple question every day ‘saved’ this couples marriage.
Have you ever asked your spouse, “When do you feel the most loved by me?” “How am I doing at being your spouse lately?” “What areas of our marriage do you feel could use improvement?”
Don’t ask those questions unless you’re willing to hear an honest answer and are willing to start or continue the process of growing, learning, adapting, and changing.
If you’re ready, ask away.
And do it without proposing you want to tell your spouse your answers.
It’s not about you right now.
What areas of our marriage could we improve?
What’s been going on recently that makes you say, this particular part of our marriage is not going so great?
Relationships ebb and flow.
We grow through seasons of good and difficult.
Anyone who has talked to me in the past year about marriage has most definitely heard me mention The Gottman Institute.
John and Julie Gottman have wisdom up the wazoo pertaining to marital stability and how to avoid certain behaviors that harm these relationships.
In his book The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work, Dr. John Gottman states the signs for divorce are :
1. harsh start-up
2. four horsemen (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling)
4. body language
5. failed repair attempts
6. bad memories
The end draws near in these four final stages
1. You see your marital problems as severe.
2. Talking things over seems useless. You try to solve problems on your own.
3. You start leading parallel lives.
4. Loneliness sets in.
The HOPE is found in these seven principles for making your marriage work ::
1. Enhance your love maps
2. Nurture fondness and admiration
3. Turn toward each other instead of away
4. Let your partner influence you
5. Solve your solvable problems
6. Overcome gridlock
7. Create shared meaning
Do you feel you’re on the same team as your spouse?
Do you work through fights together and not against each other?
Do you create solutions where you both win – compromise?
What have you put in place to prevent negativity from escalating out of control?
How are you taking care of yourself?
In order to be a good spouse, you must first take care of yourself.
I came across a cute image that’s titled, “Bucket Filling Family” and thought I need to create a “Bucket Filling Self” because you cannot pour out anything when your bucket is empty.
So what things fill you up?
What could you speak over yourself or do for yourself that would ultimately help you be a better version of yourself?
Visit here to get to know yourself better.
If my spouse were to treat me the way I treat them, would I be happy?
Marriage is constant work. There are no vacation days, no sick leave, no clocking out at 5pm. And when you hit a groove where everything is going great, you still need to maintain that work. Marriage is the most difficult and most rewarding relationship to maintain. Prune what needs pruning, and then patiently wait to bloom, flourish, and blossom!
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