to Improve Your
The booklet you hold in your hands is
one in a series designed to help you with
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Copyright © 2011
PROJECT: Steps to Christ, Inc.
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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
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
Here are ten effective techniques which
any couple can use to make that happen.
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
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.
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.”
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
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.”
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
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
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
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
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.
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
He or she may be overly
alert or sociable.
He or she may be very
He or she may be a
very resourceful person
with many creative ideas.
He or she may be very
He or she may be very
expressive or dynamic.
He or she may be an
enthusiastic person with
He or she may be very
sincere and earnest
with strong convictions.
He or she may have strong
with his or her own
He or she may be a welldisciplined
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.
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
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.”
Rather than shatter his already fragile ego,
his wife indicated: “I still believe in you.”
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.
Write Your Mate a Note—
Lots of Them
The writing of “I love you” notes
is highly recommended by therapists Don
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
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
Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage
A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness
Hope in Times of Trouble
Survival Tips for Single Parenting
Living with Loss
The Healing of Sorrow
Life After Death
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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