Ways to Improve Your Marriage

A major goal of our life together has been to keep improving our marriage. We often take time to look at articles in newspapers and magazines and on the internet that offer advice on making a better marriage. For a long time we have been aware of how many of the self-help books and articles in all areas of life start with a number – 7 habits of…, 12 ways to…, 5 things you can do to be a better. .., etc.

This morning we did a Google search on “Ways to Improve Your Marriage.”  Here is a list of the 10 items on the first page of the search results.

5 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Marriage in 2011
50 Ways to Improve Your Marriage in 2010
How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It
Five Things You Can Do to Improve Your Marriage
3 Ways to Improve Your Marriage on Your Own
7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Marriage
15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage | My World
5 Ways to Improve Your Marriage – WikiMommy
5 ways to improve a marriage – Verbal cues can keep …
101 Ways To Improve Your Relationship Right Now

There is only one item which does not contain a number. The other 9 offer 196 ways to improve your marriage. You’ll have to be busy to work through these before your 70th wedding anniversary!

We have always been a little turned off by the implication in many of the publications that seem to say: if you just do these 5 or 7 or 50 activities, your marriage will be wonderful. As we wrote our book we consciously avoided the numbers game in favor of just trying to give couples topics for discussion and encouragement to do so.

With that in mind, we are sure that many of the suggestions in  the sources listed are great ideas and can help to improve your marriage, if you work on them. The difficulty is in deciding where to start and how to proceed. It always helps to have ideas and you might find something in the articles listed or in your own search. Like surprises? Try the first item listed. Want results right now? Try the last item. Already know something you would like work on? Go for it!

At various times in our life together we have used a technique of picking a topic to work on in our relationship and consciously pursuing it for a period of time – with good results. It is a way of changing your habits in the way you relate to each other. The following hints are from our experience and the experience of other couples and can help you to be successful.

-You must have an open discussion to choose an area to work on. It has to be something that you both are interested in pursuing. If one partner is pressured into an area, expect that little will happen.

-Discuss the specific actions that you will try to change in your daily lives and agree that you will work on your part. In some cases you will each agree to do something different that will best lead you together to your goal. Check in with each other on a regular basis to see how you are doing and discuss tweaks in the plan.

-Set a time limit. At the end of the time have a discussion about the results of your efforts. You can decide to continue, if you see good progress and potential for greater growth. . If your results are good and growth seems solid, it may be time to move on to another topic. If your efforts don’t seem to be productive, it might be better to abandon this idea and try something else. There is no value in continuing to hammer away at something that isn’t producing any benefit. Usually a period of 4 to 6 weeks is enough to tell what to do next

-If you can, enlist some support. Find another couple interested in improving their marriage and share with each other what you are working on. Provide each other with encouragement and support.

There is great satisfaction in looking back after 4 or 6 weeks and being able to see improvement in the way you relate to each other.

If you try this, let us know what happens.

Learn more about the Forever and a Day Workshop and other programs offered by Bob & Rita.
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime, is available on Amazon.com. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Check out our Marriage Enrichment Programs at readabookpress.com.

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About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at thewonderofmarriage.com and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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