Being in love with someone and in a close committed relationship in which you are adored by your spouse is a deep desire that lives in most everyone. The picture and dream that you have of what that relationship should look and be like is sometimes very different than the reality you are living. What are you supposed to do when you want to become a great couple but are not hitting the mark on most days?
Debbie and I have a GREAT relationship together. We by no means have the perfect marriage, but we both agree that most of the time it really is great. We like being together, spend a lot of time together and do lots of activities together. We have fun being together, virtually every day.
Here are some things that we learned in the process of becoming a great couple:
- Make the decision together that your marriage is going to be awesome. Start at the beginning with a decision that no matter what, the two of you are going to have a great and an awesome marriage. Make the decision! Make the decision together! Sit down together or go on a walk together and talk about your marriage. Make a joint agreement that your marriage is going to be great regardless of the things that life throws at you.
The first step is making a commitment that the two of you will be awesome together.
- Think and plan ahead ways each of you individually and together can nurture your relationship! This will not be a one-time event but rather an ongoing process. Great marriages require forethought and planning. If you do not think and plan ahead and thereby protect your time together as a couple to do the things you both enjoy, other people and other priorities will fill up your life quickly. You will find you have no time for each other.
You will need to learn how to build this into your lives and your thinking so that you are continually planning ahead and deliberately setting aside time for ONLY the two of you. Make it a priority. Learn how to always keep it on the radar and in your schedule.
- Understand that it is not selfish to protect, nurture and continually work at building your marriage. We have learned that there is a great payoff for making the relationship a priority and keeping it one. Life is not always easy. When “Life Happens;” it can sometimes be difficult and painful. Having a spouse who not only “gets you,” but whom you know is also solidly in your corner and on your side is a HUGE help and blessing.
You can each handle about anything that happens in life when you have done the hard work to make and maintain a great marriage.
- Make it a priority to express gratitude frequently. I did not come from a family that expressed gratitude much, so I did not learn how to do it very well. I actually learned this from our son. As a young boy, I would hear our son thank his mom for supper, tell her how good it was and thank her for many other things. It really impressed me, and I decided that I needed to learn how to do that too.
We now thank each other many times each day, many times just for some of the simple things that one of us does for the other – such as bringing a cup of coffee to the home office, or getting out the vitamins for the next day, or getting the bed ready, etc., etc. Even though we do it all the time now, it has not gotten old, it still feels good every time I hear it and puts a little money in the bank with me for the next time I take on a small task for my wife.
- Conduct an annual review. Years ago I used a daytimer type product called Geodex, long since gone. There was a page titled “Life Goal Planner,” and it had very important areas of life listed. There was a place to write a few goals in each area, a spot to put the target date, and also a place to list how the goal would be measured.
We have always had an annual review of our marriage, family and life. I will write more about this in another blog at another time, but we both are convinced that this has been a key ingredient in helping us to live up to our decision many years ago to have a great marriage. Come up with a plan for a review of your relationship. It is a time to dream dreams and make big plans and to chart mid-course corrections.
- Read one marriage book and or attend one marriage seminar at least every other year. Even the best relationships have room for growth. You need new input and challenges in order to keep growing. Find a good book on marriage at least every other year, and get the workbook if there is one. Read the book and highlight it. Make notes about the things you want to bring into your relationship. You will find that it breathes new life and energy into your marriage.
If you want a list of good books to choose from, just drop me an email and ask for our book list. You will also benefit from attending a good marriage seminar every few years. Put it on your list. When you hear about one, check it out and put it in your schedule. We conduct marriage seminars a couple of times a year, usually in the Midwest. Sign up for our newsletter, and you will see any coming events we have planned.
- Decide to be as positive with each other as you can be. As counselors, we would often hear one spouse say to the other, “you are turning out to be just like your mother, or that is just like your dad.” Whenever we heard that being said, it was NEVER a good sign.
That statement was always a remark about some negative trait in the other spouse’s parent that both spouses hated. It was always a dig, a put down and a very negative way to portray the other spouse. Everyone has picked up traits that result in negative responses and reactions. It is your job to be aware of the things you are doing that bring negativity into the relationship and work at rooting them out.
- Learn how to resolve conflict quickly with minimal messiness. It is not realistic to think that there will never be conflict in a relationship – even in a GREAT marriage. While it is difficult at times to predict what will result in causing a conflict, it is predictable that there will be conflict from time to time. Great couples learn how to resolve conflict quickly and not allow it to drag on and on. Great couples make a commitment to learning how this works in their particular relationship and the find that it gets better and better as time goes on.
Conflicts don’t flare up as often or become as big and don’t last as long. We accepted long ago that conflicts between us can be a little messy, but we have learned how to keep them shorter, resolve them faster and not allow them to get as messy as in the past. You can do the same. As you do so, you will be well on your way to becoming a Great Couple. We have other blogs and articles on conflict that can give you some guidance.
Great marriages are always a “work in progress.” To be a great couple involves a commitment from both of you. It requires you to subsequently continue work on the relationship resulting from both a husband and wife that have placed a priority on nurturing their marriage.
We have been in the business of being a great couple for 40+ years. We have spent our entire professional lives helping others find it too. If you are stuck in a marriage that is unfulfilling and keeps holding out hope that it can turn a corner, now is the time to take a step in that direction. Call 331-308-0113 for a free 15-20 minute phone/Skype consultation to learn more about your situation and to find out if we are a good fit to help you have a GREAT marriage.