“You can’t have a maximum marriage with a minimum effort!” That’s a quote from my husband, Lamar, and it’s basically a mantra for our website. If you want the best out of your marriage, then you have to put your best effort in it. If you want things to change in your marriage, then you have to do something different.
We hear a lot of people complaining about their marriages. But when we ask them what have they been doing to fix it, they say things like:
“We tried counseling a few years back … but it didn’t work?”
“My husband/wife does not like counseling … so we don’t go.”
“He/she is never going to change.”
If you were looking for a job, and you got turned down in your first interview, would you stop looking? When you were applying for schools and you didn’t get into your favorite one, did you stop applying? Since when is trying one thing EVER acceptable?
We want your marriage to succeed in 2014. And succeeding means putting your best foot forward to implement change. If your marriage is bad …we want it to be better. If your marriage is good, we want it to be great.
Check out our list of 25 things you can do to improve your marriage in 2014:
25 Ways to Improve Your Marriage in 2014 1 of 26
1. Talk to Your Partner 2 of 26
This sounds simple enough, but you will be amazed at how many people are harboring ill feelings in their relationship and are not speaking up. Schedule some time to discuss your issues with your spouse. This may require regularly scheduled sessions as one meeting is not going to cut it.
Photo Credit: Aliaksandr Zabudzko
2. Find a Trusted Friend/Mentor to Talk to. 3 of 26
Talk to a friend or mentor that you can trust to give you good advice and that will tell you the truth. You want someone that is going help you look for solutions and that will give you good advice.
Photo Credit: Renata Osinska
3. Read a Book 4 of 26
Read a marriage book together or by yourself. There are books out there to address any marriage related question/issue that you might have. They will give some ideas on how to deal with your problems.
Photo Credit: dinostock
4. Find a Marriage Coach 5 of 26
Going to a marriage coach is a great (and sometimes less expensive) alternative to going to marriage counselor or therapist.
Photo Credit: mconnors
5. Take a Marriage Education Class 6 of 26
Marriage education classes provide you with great tools for building a strong relationship. Contrary to popular belief, they are very enjoyable and provide you with the opportunity to interact with other couples that are working on their marriages. Churches and non-profits may be providing free or low-cost classes in your area.
Photo Credit: shock
6. Go to a Marriage Conference 7 of 26
Lamar and I go to at least one marriage conference each year. They give us an opportunity to work on how we can become better spouses and provide us with tools on how to deal with marital challenges and how to keep our marriage strong.
Photo Credit: Logo of the Better Marriages Conference that Lamar and I attended this year.
7. Go on a Marriage Retreat 8 of 26
Like marriage conferences, you will get plenty of tools for your marital toolbox. However, marriage retreats often give you an opportunity to connect or a more intimate and spiritual level.
Photo Credit: Tomasz Trojanowski
8. Join a Marriage Ministry 9 of 26
Marriage ministries meet periodically, most of their events are free or low-cost, they provide you with spiritual tools to strengthen your marriage, and you will meet plenty of other couples that are also working to have strong marriages.
Photo Credit: dani_ana
9. Go to a Professional Counselor with Your Spouse 10 of 26
Sometimes it's necessary to have a professional help you address your issues. Professionals don't tell you to leave or stay…but they will help you get to the root of the issue and they will give you some tools for rebuilding your relationship.
Photo Credit: Peter Baxter — so maybe you won't go to this particular doctor ... lol!
10. Join Marriage Webinars 11 of 26
If you can't afford a therapist or if you don't have time or sitter, then a great alternative is to participate in online marriage training or on-line marriage counseling.
Photo Credit: Adam Borkowski
11. Start a Small Marriage Group 12 of 26
Get together with a few other couples and meet monthly. Discuss marital issues, bond, and hold each other accountable. This is so much fun.
12. Change Your Way of Thinking 13 of 26
Sometimes a change in your relationship starts with a change in your way of thinking. If you are always looking at the negative, and never seeing any positives … then it's time to change your way of thinking. Try focusing on the positive things that your spouse does and the blessing that you have in your marriage. You might find that things are not ALL as bad as they seem and that your problems are not too big to be resolved.
Photo Credit: Smirk_T Tulic
13. Make Some Changes on Your Own 14 of 26
Sometimes you can't wait on your partner to make some changes. Sometimes the changes have to start with you. And your positive changes may be just what's needed to move your relationship in a positive.
Photo Credit: ifoto
14. Go to Counseling on Your Own 15 of 26
If your spouse won't go to counseling, then you go. At the very least, you can figure out exactly what you want and get some tips on how to communicate your needs to your spouse.
Photo Credit: MAXFX
15. Watch a Marriage Movie 16 of 26
There are several marriage movies (such as our movies ... shameless plug) that will spark conversation between you and your spouse and motivate you to make some changes in your own relationship.
Photo Credit: Alex White
16. Pray 17 of 26
Pray and ask God to bring healing to your relationship.
Photo Credit: nighthawk7
17. Stay Away from Negative People 18 of 26
Now is not the time to hang around people that ...
- ... are, in general, negative about relationships.
- ... hate on your marriage
- ... that don't like your spouse
- ... that give you bad advice and tell you to do things you know are not right
- ... that you can get with have a big complain fest with.
Limit your exposure to those people.
Photo Credit: Pavel Losevsky
18. Find a Hobby. 19 of 26
Sometimes you can get so focused on your relationship issues, that you forget about the things that bring you joy. Find a hobby or volunteer at a charity. Doing things for other people can be so rewarding, it helps you to put your life into perspective, and it gives you a much needed break from your problems.
Photo Credit: MAXFX
19. Remember the Things that Made You Fall in Love in the First Place. 20 of 26
20. Work on Your Communication Skills 21 of 26
If you are not able to talk to your spouse about your issues, without someone blowing up or shutting down, then find tools that can help you to specifically work on your communication skills.
Photo Credit: Andrey Kiselev
21. Do the Love Dare 22 of 26
"The Love Dare personally leads you through daily devotionals, records your thoughts and experiences, and ends each day daring you to perform a simple act of love for your spouse. This 40-Day journey equips you to melt hardened, separated hearts into an enduring love that can withstand the flames of fear, pride and temptation."
Photo Credit: Logo for the The Love Dare book.
22. Learn Each Other’s Love Language 23 of 26
I've heard from many couples that Dr. Gary Chapman's book, The Five Love Languages, has single-handedly changed their marriages. This book will show you how to love your spouse in the way that your spouse needs to be loved..and vice versa.
Photo Credit: Book Cover from The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
23. Take a Vacation 24 of 26
Take some time away from it all to relax, have fun, and re-connect as a couple.
Photo Credit: Galina Barskaya
24. Start Kissing and Touching Again 25 of 26
If your intimacy has been lacking, start being intentional about hugging, kissing, touching and being tender with each other each and every day.
Photo Credit: Digimist
25. Continue to Have Loving Actions for Your Spouse 26 of 26
Dr. Parker, author of Renovating Your Marriage Room by Room, says that couples that have great and lasting relationships recognize there is a ebb and flow of love. He's says these couples have figured out that you need to:
"Continue to have loving actions, even when loving feelings aren't present. When a couple chooses loving actions, often times loving feelings emerge again."
Photo Credit: Andrejs Pidjass