For all who like "lists" as a way to measure success, you'll like this
week's Marriage Message. Men especially like lists because we enjoy being
able to successfully and systematically check off each item.
The following list is challenging but we believe that if you follow them,
you could almost guarantee your marriage will succeed. As you read them
ask yourself, "Am I following this principle?" Then secondly, if you're
not following them, ask yourself, "How can I begin to implement them (a
selected principle or more) in my daily way of thinking and living with my
These principles are authored by Mark Brandenburg who is a certified
Personal Coach and author of, "Fix Your Wife in 30 Days or Less." It
appeared in a Smart Marriages article on 11/18/03 (an "oldie but a
goodie"). We added the additional comments in (parenthesis):
1. FORGET ABOUT GETTING YOUR NEEDS MET. Focus on your spouse and what you
can do for them. This is the best way to bring out the best in both of
you. ("Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility
consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not to
your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4)
2. KEEP SOME MEANINGFUL RITUALS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP. Whether it's having
dinner conversation after work every night or taking a long walk, have
something in place that allows you to stay in touch with each other's lives.
(And don't forget to schedule date times regularly with your spouse.
You dated each other before marriage--that's what contributed to your
falling in love in the first place. Don't neglect dating each other
after the wedding to help your love STAY alive and vital.)
3. HAVE A 5-to-1 RATIO OF POSITIVE TO NEGATIVE INTERACTIONS. There should
be 5 compliments, hugs, or squeezes of the arm for every roll of the
eyes, every criticism, or every episode of blaming.
(Better yet, don't roll the eyes or do anything that's disrespectful to
each other. It causes erosion to the relationship that doesn't glorify God.)
("Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe
yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and
patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may
have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all
these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect
unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of
one body you were called to peace." Colossians 3:12-15)
4. BE RELENTLESS IN YOUR PURSUIT OF SELF-IMPROVEMENT AND TRYING TO BE A
BETTER PERSON. Healthy marriages tend to grow and change. This means
that you must be willing to try on new behaviors and to take some risks.
5. MAKE YOUR MARRIAGE FULL OF SPECIAL SURPRISES. Marriages are more alive
and exciting when there are surprises sprinkled into them. Surprise
your spouse with an outing, a special date night, flowers, candy, or
anything else that excites them.
6. TAKE GREAT SELF-CARE. If you're all stressed out, you're going to be a
"bear" to be around! Make sure you follow a program of self-care that
allows you to give energy to the relationship.
("Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who
is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you
were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1
7. DEVELOP A COMMON INTEREST THAT YOU CAN SHARE TOGETHER. You're going to
be spending a lot of time together. It's nice to have an activity to
share that helps you to enjoy that time together. Whether it's
golfing, traveling, hiking, or shopping, find your common interests and
turn them into pleasurable experiences.
8. FOCUS ON BEING KIND AND NOT ON BEING RIGHT. It's easy to spend time
showing your spouse that you're right. Focus on being kind instead.
You'll argue less and enjoy each other more.
("Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only
what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that
it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29)
9. WHEN THINGS DO GET HEATED, COMMIT TO A PLAN THAT WORKS. Don't say
things in the heat of the moment that may do damage to your
relationship. Have a plan in place that may include: walking away,
continuing the discussion at a later date, for a sort of relaxed response.
(Please re-read this advice. It's excellent. "Do not grieve the Holy
Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get
rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with
every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators
of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love,
just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 4:32-5:2)
10. DEVELOP A NETWORK OF SUPPORT AROUND YOU. Whether it's friends or
family, have a group of people that you spend time with, which you can
confide in and share times with. It always helps to know that others
are going and/or have gone through the same things you are.
("Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of
doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see
the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25)
We pray God's greatest blessings on your marriage this coming year. Don't
forget to treat each other with the love and respect God would have you--
treating your spouse as more important than yourself--using Christ as your
example of sacrificial love.