If you are like me and my wife, you do not have it all together, so always learning, always growing, and always trying to be intentional is important. I say this knowing I’ve certainly had an argument with my wife today and I was in the wrong. Not “today” as in I wrote this, but every today that comes. So these 10 tips to improve your marriage are things I have been slowly trying to add over the last ten years of my marriage to my wife and I hope they help you.

Churches, do you have any small groups or conferences you could do to support your couples in your church? Here are some curriculums you may want to look into.

  1. Listen
    Easy to say, hard to do. Serious, stop and listen. Don’t try to fix it, listen. In counseling, we call this active listening, where you do not come up with a “comeback,” sarcastic remark, defensive plea, or anything else. You clear your mind of thinking and truly hear them.
  2. Give Full Attention
    I’m bad about this when I have a project going on, it’s been a long day, or not on my A-game. But my wife’s 5 Love Languages is quality time, but I won’t be able to pull off doing three things at once, she needs my full attention. When you talk, turn off your phone, give your kids something to do for a minute, put that project away for a bit, and look your spouse in the eyes while you talk.
  3. Be Assertive
    Assertiveness is tricky because many people are not fluent in this. They may be fluent in anger, yelling, and criticism, but those are not assertiveness. Assertiveness is communicating your feelings, thoughts, needs, and wants in a clear, direct, and respectful manner.
  4. Understand Their Side
    Understanding is so easy to do, fixes so many “problems,” and yet we forget to do this. If we simply understand someone, even if we don’t agree with them, it helps resolve so many conflicts. How do you do better at understanding? Ask lots of questions, more questions than seems normal. And keep asking.
  5. Be Positive
    You can critique, be assertive, listen, and correct all while in a positive manner. Negative comments are designed to tear down. If you take a second in the middle of an argument and think about it, why are you being so negative? Are you hoping to tear down your spouse? So then be positive.
  6. Makeup, Every Time
    I’m not looking for big elaborate acts every fight you do. Sometimes it is a simple hug, an apology. Sometimes apologies are followed up with flowers, acts of services, and these are good. But situations may not allow for it. When you can, make amends with their love language. Give them their undivided attention, have sex, or go do the laundry that they were doing before you guys started fighting.
  7. Offer Praise, Frequently and Limitless
    I’ve heard this a lot in counseling “I compliment them a lot. What do you mean?” And then when reflecting, they realize it’s about once a day. They are good at critiquing, they do that several times an hour. It should be flipped. For every negative comment or criticism, offer seven positive, UNIQUE compliments or praises. Unique being the keyword here. You can’t duplicate it each day.
  8. Be Interested In Your Spouse
    Take time to see how their day was. Even if their answer was “fine,” you are showing interest. If they hate something, ask why. You know your partner, but when’s the last time you asked about their latest dream in life, what they would love to have spontaneously happened to them today, or their biggest fear in life? Go ask them, even if you think you know the answer.
  9. Have Boundaries
    Your work or school life is tough. Bringing that pain into your home life can cause problems. I’m not talking about compartmentalizing your emotions and life. But if you are frustrated by work stuff, don’t start yelling at your spouse who does the slightest thing wrong. Verbalize your frustration about the other thing to your spouse, but know that it is not their fault.
  10. Get Marital Counseling
    This is not a cookie-cutter set of items. Some things you may need to work on in your marriage are specific to your relationship. Go to counseling and work on things now before you and your spouse are in a place that counseling is the last thing before your marriage is ruined. There is no shame in counseling, it’s support for the most important relationship you have with another individual in your life.

What other items would you put as a tip to a couple that wants to improve their marriage?

Published by Jeremy Smith

Jeremy is the Co-Occurring Program Coordinator and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor at a community mental health center. Jeremy has a history of working as a ministry director for Youth for Christ for 8 years and then working as a mental health and substance use adult counselor in Colorado and Ohio, specifically running an Opioid Residential Treatment Center.

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