10 Ways To Improve Your Marriage

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10

Ten Ways

to Improve Your

Marriage

Marriage


Dear friend,

The booklet you hold in your hands is

one in a series designed to help you with

practical “hands-on” information in your

personal search for a better life and to

help those you care most about.

No matter who you are or where in life

you are looking for answers—whether it

be marriage, health, parenting, the loss

of a loved one, overcoming an addiction,

or working through stress or financial

problems—there is help available and

there is hope.

We trust this booklet and others in the

Peacefinders series will be a blessing

to you and your family as you journey

through each passage of life.

—The Publishers


Copyright © 2011

PROJECT: Steps to Christ, Inc.

302 Foster Road

Fort Covington, NY 12937

Printed in the USA

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,Inc. Used by permission.

All rights reserved.


y Victor Parachin

Bob Klinger of Loveland, Colorado, knew

his wife, Katie, never had a high school

yearbook because her family couldn’t

afford one. While she was sympathetic about

her family circumstances, privately Katie had

yearned for a yearbook with recorded school

memories. Without her knowledge, Bob contacted

her high school and asked them if they

could locate a new yearbook from 1985, Katie’s

senior year. When they found one, Bob then

contacted his wife’s old friends and teachers,

asking them to sign the yearbook as though

it were the last day of school in 1985. “On


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Christmas morning, Bob gave me the yearbook

with greetings from all over the country,” Katie

Klinger says, with great delight.

Through that gracious act, Bob Klinger

showed himself to be not only a romantic and

sensitive marital partner, but one who knew

how to nurture, strengthen and fortify a relationship.

Klinger’s unique gift to his wife demonstrated

his love for her and his commitment

to keeping the marriage vital and energized. He

appreciated his partner and their common life

together. “There is no more lovely, friendly and

charming relationship, communion or company

than a good marriage,” noted Martin Luther.

The truth is that most of us can make a good

marriage great.

Here are ten effective techniques which

any couple can use to make that happen.

1

Make Time for Each Other

The simple process of living places many

demands on our time—working, parenting,

commuting, volunteering, etc. Yet, thriving

couples always make their relationship a high

priority. Their marriage is not incidental but


central in their lives. However challenging it

may be, happy couples find ample ways to spend

time together on a consistent basis. In his book,

Solid Answers, Psychologist James Dobson

cites the lack of time spent together as a “marriage

killer.” He issues this warning to couples:

“Husbands and wives who fill their lives with

never-ending volumes of work are too exhausted

to take walks together, to share their deeper

feelings, to understand and meet each other’s

needs. This breathless pace predominates in

millions of households, leaving every member

of the family frazzled and irritable. Husbands

are moonlighting to bring home more money.

Wives are on their own busy career track… and

life goes speeding by in a deadly routine.… I see

this kind of over commitment as the quickest

route to the destruction of the family.”

From time to time every couple would be

wise to take a “time inventory” by reviewing how

the hours of one week are spent. If both partners

are simply racing from one activity to another,

passing each other in the process, it is time to

make changes which free up the schedule to make

more time for each other. As you look at your relationship,

be certain that there are times daily

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when you and your partner connect. Creatively

look over the schedule and find ways to connect.

This can be a quick phone call, a short email, an

early morning walk, lunch together, or a leisurely

stroll together at the end of the day.

2

Honor One Another

Relationships thrive when there is mutual

honor, reverence, respect, and admiration

for one another. Follow the biblical advice

of “in honor giving preference to one another”

(Romans 12:10). This means being considerate

of each other’s needs and feelings. Do all you

can to honor and cherish each other. Consider

the example of Carla and Eric Ackerman. “I was

raised on the Canadian prairie, and the first

snowless December I spent in California was

difficult,” explains Carla. “I was away from my

family and eight months pregnant, which was

going to make for a not-so-merry Christmas.”

One day while she was at work, her husband

drove two hours into the California mountains.

There he loaded his truck with snow, drove

home, and unloaded it on their front lawn. “I

came home to a beautiful, snow-covered yard.

My husband invited some neighborhood boys


over to play, and we ended the evening with carols

and hot chocolate.”

3

Tap into the Spiritual

When you marry, you do become “one

flesh;” but an important component of

every marital relationship ought to be the spiritual.

In order to have your love flow more freely

and more generously, remind yourself of these

biblical exhortations:

Ephesians 4:32—“And be kind to one another,

tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even

as God in Christ forgave you.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8—“Love suffers long and

is kind; love does not envy; love does not

parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave

rudely, does not seek its own, is not

provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in

iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all

things, believes all things, hopes all things,

endures all things. Love never fails.”

John 13:34—“A new commandment I give to

you, that you love one another; as I have

loved you, that you also love one another.”

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Display the Attitude of Gratitude

Toward Your Mate

For her book, Now That I’m Married,

Why Isn’t Everything Perfect? The Eight Essential

Traits of Couples Who Thrive, author and researcher

Susan Page interviewed numerous

couples. “Virtually every happy couple I spoke

with mentioned how grateful they are to be with

each other,” she notes. “They behaved as though

they were grateful, and they told me that they

mention this to each other often.”

Here are some of the attitude of gratitude

responses Page heard from happy couples:

“We are always telling each other how

blessed we are to be together and to have

the life we have.”

“I really feel that Lisa saved my life. I mean

she did. I thank her for it every day.”

“We probably mention our relationship

every day, just saying things like, ‘I’m so

grateful to be with you. We’re so blessed to

be together.’”

The lesson from these happy couples is a

simple one: express your gratitude toward your


partner. Let him know you are grateful for him.

Let her know how fortunate you feel to have

married her.

5

Express Public Praise

for Your Partner

“A little praise goes a great way,” observed

Ralph Waldo Emerson. While any compliment

is a source of pleasure, one offered in a

public way heightens the sense of joy. Be sure

not only to compliment your mate privately,

but don’t forget to also do it in public. Former

President George H. W. Bush often praised his

wife, Barbara, in public. On one occasion he was

asked to answer some questions about his wife

for a reporter working on a profile of the First

Lady. Here are some of his comments:

“She (Barbara) has enhanced my life and

career by caring, by loving, by supporting.

Nothing annoys me about her—nothing at all.

There is no single thing I like most about her.

It all comes together… her laugh, her beauty,

her caring, her love, her being with me through

thick or through thin. In the early days we

moved a lot. In the Navy, base to base, then to

New Haven for two and a half years, then out

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to West Texas, then to Whittier, California, then

Ventura, Bakersfield, Compton, then back to

Midland. Then, 8-10 years later to Houston,

then to Washington, but never a complaint,

never a selfish word. What has she meant to

me—everything!”

6

Be a Servant

Pattern your marriage after the inspiring

example of Jesus, who did not hesitate to

wash His disciples’ feet (John 13). His action is a

reminder that we ought to have the same humility

toward others that Jesus had toward His disciples.

Do not neglect to be of practical service

to your partner—fill her car with gas when the

tank is empty; warm his car up on a cold morning;

bring her a cup of warm tea when she is feeling

discouraged; bring him a small gift to simply

celebrate your love; send flowers to her office or

home after she has completed a major project.

7

Turn Negatives into Positives

Because no one of us is perfect, there are

bound to be personality traits, which we

may find exasperating from time to time. Rather

than allow yourself to be frustrated by this, try


to turn a negative into a positive. Train your

mind to automatically turn a weakness into a

strength. This is something which relationship

authority Gary Smalley often recommends for

couples. In his book, Secrets To Lasting Love, he

says it is easy to reframe a mate’s negative traits

into positive perceptions. He charts the process

this way:

9

Negative Trait

Nosy

Touchy

Manipulating

Stingy

Talkative

Flighty

Positive Trait

He or she may be overly

alert or sociable.

He or she may be very

sensitive.

He or she may be a

very resourceful person

with many creative ideas.

He or she may be very

thrifty.

He or she may be very

expressive or dynamic.

He or she may be an

enthusiastic person with

cheerful vitality.


10

Too Serious

Too bold

Rigid

Overbearing

A Dreamer

Too Fussy

He or she may be very

sincere and earnest

with strong convictions.

He or she may have strong

convictions, uncompromising

with his or her own

standards.

He or she may be a welldisciplined

person with

strong convictions.

He or she may be a very

confident person—sure of

himself or herself.

He or she may be very

creative and imaginative.

He or she may be very

organized and efficient.

8

Stand by Your Man or Woman

Pastor E. V. Hill is the dynamic senior

minister of Mount Zion Missionary

Baptist Church in Los Angeles. He expresses

profound gratitude toward his wife, Jane, who


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has stood by him during some difficult times

in their married life. One discouraging period

of time stands out in his memory. As a struggling

young minister, Pastor Hill had trouble

earning enough money for his family. That led

him to invest the family’s scarce resources, over

his wife’s objections, in the purchase of a service

station. She felt her husband lacked both time

and expertise to manage this investment. Her

prediction proved to be accurate. Before long,

the station went broke, and Pastor Hill lost everything

he put into the business.

This was a critical time in Pastor Hill’s life

as he failed at something important to him. Jane

could have been justified in saying: “I told you

so.” However, she understood her husband’s

vulnerability and responded in an extraordinary

way. When Pastor Hill came home he expected

Jane to be upset with him for the foolish

investment. Instead, she sat down with him and

rationalized: “I’ve been doing some figuring. I

figure that you don’t smoke and you don’t drink.

If you smoked and drank, you would have lost

as much as you lost in the service station. So…

let’s forget it.”


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Rather than shatter his already fragile ego,

his wife indicated: “I still believe in you.”

9

Give More Gifts

“Gifts lift our spirits and brighten our

hearts by making us feel indulged and

special, by making us feel worthy of the delightfully,

irrational pleasures of life,” says Daphne

Rose Kingma in her book True Love: How To

Make Your Relationship Sweeter, Deeper, and

More Passionate. Although love is a mystical and

spiritual union, it is often a material gift which

symbolizes the depth of love and feeling we have

for our partner. “So do give more presents. Don’t

wait for the special occasion. Buy the unnecessary,

foolish, touching thing, the gift that says I

love you, I know who you are. Be silly, be serious,

be generous, be inventive: the china box with the

pink ceramic bow, the fuzzy teddy bear, the gym

bag with five pairs of tennis socks, the space age

thermos, the porcelain thimble,” Kingma advises.

10

Write Your Mate a Note—

Lots of Them

The writing of “I love you” notes

is highly recommended by therapists Don


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Dinkmeyer, Ph.D., and Jon Carlson, Ed.D. In

their book, Taking Time For Love: How To Stay

Happily Married, they say: “The ‘I love you’ note

to your partner develops a brief and effective

way to express your positive, loving thoughts.

Much like the Browning poem, ‘How do I love

thee, let me count the ways,’… it gives you a process

for counting the ways you love your partner.

In the love note you can talk about things you

want to do for your partner, positive attitudes,

patience, cooperation, caring, or any other traits

that are present but are usually not recognized.”

Those notes can then be delivered in a variety

of ways: through the mail; placing them in the

pockets of dresses or suits; tucked into a briefcase

or purse; put under a dinner plate; taped to

the car steering wheel; written on the mirror; or

placed inside a dresser drawer.

This is precisely what Miriam Williams

of Gilroy, California did for her husband. She

cut out 500 pink paper hearts. On each one

she wrote a reason why she loves her husband.

“Coming up with five hundred reasons made

me look at the daily issues and joys I had overlooked,”

she explains. “I taped the hearts on the

wall from the bedroom to the dining room, and


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enjoyed my husband’s chuckles and sighs as he

collected his treasured hearts. He still has them

stuffed in a drawer, and he rereads them every

now and then.”

* * *

Finally, always be positive about your relationship.

Even though there may be some rough

spots, remind yourself that your love and respect

for each other will empower you to travel

through the difficult times. As you strive to

make a good marriage great, you will have the

pleasure of seeing and experiencing your love

deepen and your joy heighten.

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these

three; but the greatest of these is love”

(1 Corinthians 13:13).


Other titles available in

the Peacefinder book series:

You Can Stop Smoking

Addiction Free

Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage

A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness

Hope in Times of Trouble

Money Management

Stress Management

Survival Tips for Single Parenting

Successful Parenting

Living with Loss

The Healing of Sorrow

Life After Death

Medical Miracle

Gentle Ways to Ease Depression

To order additional titles, visit our online

bookstore at www.peacefinders.org

or call 1-800-728-6872.


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