We all want a happier marriage. We all want fewer fights, more fun, and to be less stressed. Whether you’re at the end of your rope in your marriage or just getting started, I want everyone to have a better marriage! I know it’s possible because I’ve studied long-term, happy marriages and learned their secrets to success. Here are the 12 steps you can start taking today if you want to have a better marriage for tomorrow and the rest of your lives!
1. Practice Better Communication
No one starts off as a perfect communicator. But thankfully we can learn to be better if we practice the right things.
- Use active listening: give your spouse your undivided attention when he or she speaks and always respond to him or her, even if it’s just a noise of acknowledgment.
- Clarify! If you think your spouse said or meant something, ask him or her. Don’t just assume the worst or assume anything period.
- Be patient. Even if you aren’t interested in the topic of conversation, if your spouse is, let him or her talk and be patient.
Learning to communicate better will really help improve your marriage and cause fewer fights.
2. Agree on Finances
One of the most common arguments and even a leading cause of divorce is your finances. In fact, it’s something you should certainly talk about before getting married. However, once you’re married, you still need to discuss finances and agree on some essential things.
- Decide to tithe off your income, no matter how much or how little money you make.
- How much should you save and what kind of account should it go into? Most successful financiers and business people recommend an account with a high-interest rate so your money isn’t just sitting there, it actually makes you more money.
- Set up a budget together. If you’re strapped for money, decide what is absolutely necessary in life and what you can get rid of to give you a little wiggle room.
You should discuss your finances at least once a month in case anything changes and you need to edit your budget.
3. Stand United
You may have disagreements and differing opinions at home, but when you’re facing anyone outside the two of you, including family, friends, coworkers, or sometimes your own children, make sure you stand as a united front.
- Don’t argue in front of others
- If one of you says no to something, the other should say no as well
- If a family member is verbally attacking your spouse, always take your spouse’s side. Even if you disagree with your spouse, you can discuss it on your own at home, but in front of the family always take your spouse’s side.
Remember that God put the two of you together, making you one flesh, so your side should always be wherever your spouse stands – as long as they don’t stand against God.
4. Encourage, Don’t Nag
There are always things we will want our spouse to do differently. Maybe your husband needs to focus more on his business or your wife needs to clean the house instead of watching TV. Nagging your spouse to do something will cause tension and friction in your marriage, and your spouse is more likely to fight you than to change. Instead of nagging, try encouraging your spouse. If your husband needs to work on the business but doesn’t want to do it alone, join him! Tell him, “Hey babe, let’s work on the business together, right now.” And when he works on it, praise him for it. If your wife does clean something, always praise her for it instead of pointing out what she didn’t clean. (And these tips go for either gender in any role) “Hey hon, this kitchen looks amazing! Great job!” If you want your spouse to change, you need to encourage good behavior and then pray about any bad behavior because only God can change him or her. But don’t nag because it won’t bring about the results you desire.
5. Fight Fair
Fighting is inevitable no matter what relationship you’re in. But you can shorten the amount of time a fight lasts and you can reduce negative consequences from fights if you do a few things differently.
- No naming calling. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
- Don’t use “always” and “never”. “You always do this, you never do that.” Instead, focus on what is bothering you right now.
- Don’t bring up past mistakes or your spouse will do the same.
- Don’t fight in public or even in front of your kids. Fight in private.
- Don’t yell or scream at one another. The purpose of a fight is to resolve conflict. Yelling and screaming will never resolve anything, rather you will only escalate matters.
When you learn to fight fair, your fights will be fewer, last a shorter amount of time, and will actually resolve your conflict rather than just causing negative feelings, bitterness, and resentment.
6. Take Time for One Another
No matter how busy your schedules may be, make sure you always make time for one another. Spend time in the morning or evening together, just sitting for a few minutes and discussing your day. Once a week set up a time and day for a date night away from the kids, away from work and stress, and enjoy time together. Remember that the only one who should come before your spouse is God. Your kids, your job, money, and everything else should always come after your spouse.
7. Have Time to Yourself
It’s equally important that you have time to yourself in your life, at least once or twice a month. Get away from your spouse, your kids, your job, and just do something that you enjoy. Do something that relaxes you, like a long walk or a shopping trip or time at a spa or go golfing or hang out with your friends. When you don’t take time for yourself you tend to fight more with your spouse because sometimes you just need a break from one another that isn’t work-related.
8. Kids Don’t Solve Problems
I’ve seen marriages where the relationship is going down-hill and they really need some marital help so they decide to have a child in hopes that it will solve their problems. Children never solve problems in your marriage and will usually only make things worse. If you want to have a child, make sure it’s for the right reasons, not because you want your spouse to love you or stay with you. If you’re having marital issues, go to a Christian marriage counselor. If your spouse won’t go to one, pray unceasingly that God will restore your marriage. But don’t try to solve problems with a child.
9. Make Sex a Priority
Sex is not as big a deal as Hollywood makes it out to be, but it is an important part of your marriage. It helps relieve tension, especially sexual tension, and you are far less likely to be tempted to flirt or have an affair if you are sexually satisfied at home. Sex also helps create a deeper connection to your spouse, a deeper intimacy, and can help improve your relationship. So, set aside a least two times a month, if not more, to make love. Talk about it and decide what is best for your relationship.
10. Set Goals
Everyone should have goals in life, short-term and long-term goals, and that includes you and your spouse. Make sure that you take time to sit down and discuss your goals together. What are your goals for your marriage, your career, your physical health? Make sure you are both on the same page because whatever you do will affect your spouse and vice versa.
11. Talk About Dreams
I’m not talking about dreams you have at night, but rather the God-given dreams deep in your heart. Tell your spouse about them. Discuss how your dreams work together and what goals you can set to achieve your dreams. Much of what we dream isn’t completely achievable without God’s help, so make sure you pray together as well and ask God to do what you can’t do, but set goals to do what you can do.
12. Bible Study Together
The most important thing you can do with your spouse is to spend time with God together. Every day you should Bible study together, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes. And make sure you pray together as well. Place your problems, your dreams, your very marriage in God’s hands. Keep Christ at the center of your marriage and it will never fall apart.
If you do these 12 steps consistently and together I can guarantee that your marriage will improve every year. You and your spouse will be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled than ever before! So, get started on those steps today!