Here’s a list I put together on 15 ways to improve your marriage (in no particular order):
- Deal with all your junk right away. Everyone brings baggage into a marriage and some couples work through as much as possible as fast as possible and others don’t. I think when a couple has been married for 2 – 3 years, you can tell if they have worked on their baggage.
- Understand your roles and live in them. Too many couples think they can have a roleless marriage and it will work. The Bible clearly lays out roles, what a husband is and what a wife is. Too many wives do what their husbands are supposed to do which lead to men doing nothing.
- Be intimate, a lot. It’s no coincidence that every marriage book, every couple who says they are happy, all say they are intimate, a lot. 1 in 5 couples have what is called a sexless marriage (less than 10 times a year). The average for a married couple is 1 – 2 times every 10 days. Wonder why couples aren’t happy? Those stats are a place to start.
- Date night. I’m stunned at the amount of couples who do not have a regularly scheduled date night. I won’t go into much detail here because I just blogged about this the other day (you can read that here). Bottom line, you need a weekly date night, every week, protect it with your life and make it a priority and make it happen.
- Your relationship is more important than any other relationship (except God). Too many couples make their jobs, parents, friends and kids more important than their marriages. Guess what? A day is coming when it will just be you and your spouse. Make that relationship the most important.
- Pray together. This is a great way to connect, especially at the end of a long day. It is a great way to thank your spouse for things out loud. This is especially good if you had a long day or a huge fight at night. This is something EVERY couple should do everyday.
- Play together. Admittedly, this might be more of a man need, but do fun things together. If you are both into football, go to a game. Go shopping. Play golf or tennis. Run together. Do something fun that is just the two of you.
- Find a mentor. Every couple should have a mentor. From the time of our engagement, we have had other couples speaking into our marriage. They have helped us get to where we are right now.
- Put the other person first. One thing marriage brings out is how selfish we are. All over the scriptures when it talks about marriage, it talks about serving each other. If you make it your goal to outserve the other person, you will win at marriage.
- Decide that you will stay married even if it kills you (and it probably will). This may sound obvious, but even though couples don’t get married planning to get divorced, so many couples are willing to call it quits really quickly. If you are going to work through all your junk (see #1), you will need the confidence that no matter what, this thing will make it to the end. If you decide to stay married even if it kills you, you can really do anything and get through anything. It will be hard, but deciding this ahead of time will go a long way.
- No secrets. It is amazing to me the amount of couples who keep secrets from their spouse. I have had men tell me something and then say, “Don’t tell my wife.” Uh, if you don’t, I will. No wonder marriages implode, they don’t trust each other.
- Work out of your gifting. While there are specific roles for men and women in marriage (#2), there are many things in marriage that it doesn’t matter who does them. Things like finances. Some are gifted at it, others aren’t. Do the things you are good at, let your spouse do what they are good at.
- Men, lead. This has to do with roles (#2), but too many men do not lead and take initiative in their marriages and consequently, their marriages suffer. Men are called to take initiative, to lead with a servant heart, to passionately pastor their wives and kids. With Jesus as our model, this is something that will save you a lot of heartache.
- Stay pure. This is not just for men. This is not just a physical thing. It is an all encompassing thing. Are you physically, emotionally, spiritually, relationally, mentally attached to someone you are not married to? Your spouse is the person who should meet these needs more than any other person.
- Boundaries. Because of what I do, Katie and I have put into place some specific boundaries (you can read about those here). The point is, you must protect yourself, your heart and the purity of your marriage. It is hard to commit adultery if you don’t put yourself in the position to commit adultery.
What did I miss? What would you add as a way to improve your marriage.