Developing a strong marriage takes daily investment- you can’t set it and forget it. Relationships are ever-changing because people and life are ever-changing. With intentional changes, you can build a stronger marriage and go deeper with your spouse.
I think that most of us want to have a stronger marriage relationship. Life is much easier when you are in a good relationship. It makes it easier on your kids, extended family, and friends, also.
The issue is that developing a stronger marriage isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and intentional work to get there and stay there with your spouse. Here are a few things you can work on to strengthen your relationship.
1. Give Them The Benefit of The Doubt
There will be times when your spouse says or does something that hurts your feelings. It can be easy to jump to conclusions that they did the offensive thing on purpose. Just because they know you better than anyone else doesn’t mean that they always know how their actions will affect you.
Instead of concluding that they did something intentionally, give them the benefit of the doubt. Believing that they meant to hurt you will cause your defenses to go up. Going to them about an issue when you are defensive will usually lead to unnecessary fighting.
Rather than believing that they were trying to hurt you, consider that they did it unknowingly.
2. Become a Life Long Student of Your Spouse
My husband, Austin, says that I’m his favorite subject and that he is committed to studying me for the rest of his life. (Yep, I’m a lucky girl.)
Even if you have known your spouse for a long time, it doesn’t mean that you have them all figured out. They change- you change- everything changes.
If you commit to being a lifelong student of your spouse, then when those changes happen, you will know it. Committing to studying them will keep you connected. The moment you assume there is nothing new left to learn about them is the moment you will start drifting apart.
3. Stop Being So Busy
Being busy is a badge of honor that many people wear, but it can quickly destroy your relationship. To have a strong marriage, you need time to invest in one another. It is vital to spend uninterrupted time together on a regular basis.
In order to stop being so busy, it will require you both to make intentional decisions to say “no”. Before either of you agree to a commitment, discuss it. Be willing to hear your spouse tell you their honest opinion about taking on the responsibility.
Carve out time to be together where you put electronic devices down, cut off the television, and send the kids away. By spending intentional time together, you have the ability to connect emotionally, spiritually, and physically. All of these components are necessary for a strong relationship.
4. Focus On Their Strengths
Most couples end up marrying their opposite, which causes a lot of conflict in the marriage. Believe me, Austin and I come at everything in life differently. That means we do things differently and cause a lot of annoyance. It’s really easy to pick apart your spouse’s actions and things that bother you…instead of focusing on their strengths and the good in them.
When you catch yourself thinking about the things your spouse does that frustrates you, turn your thoughts to the things about them that are strengths. It will help you appreciate them more.
5. Improve Communication By Defining What You Mean
You can talk each other to death and never get anywhere with each other. Talking more doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll improve your communication. The best way to actually understand what your spouse is trying to tell you is for both of you to define what you mean when you say something. Without realizing it, we all say things based on our experiences, perspective, nature, etc. that doesn’t necessarily communicate to the other person the way we think we are.
Here is a phrase we used to say that caused a lot of strife in our marriage because we had different definitions:
I want to rest.
Austin defines rest as sitting on the couch and not getting up for hours. I define rest as leaving the house and doing something fun. As you can imagine, when I used to tell Austin that I wanted to rest, it caused a lot of issues because he thought I wanted to clear our schedules and do nothing. I would suggest that we go somewhere and do things…and he would say no because I needed to “rest”. As you can imagine, this caused a lot of frustration between us because we weren’t communicating.
Not only do words miscommunicate, but so do actions. A simple way to improve communication is to use this conversation prompt:
When you do ____, I think you mean _____. Is that what you mean?
You might be really surprised at what they say.
There are many things you can do to have a better marriage, but these are great places to start. What are ways you build a stronger relationship?