January: New Year Marriage Maintenance
“This year it’s going to be different…” Such is our thinking every January. It’s prime time for thinking about what we want – or need – to change in our life. It can be a time of starting over, trying something new, or going back to basics. So what’s on your list for change in 2016? New job? Lose weight? Go back to school? Or how about improving your marriage?
No marriage is perfect, and every marriage, no matter how good or bad, can be improved. There are lots of ways to do that: books, videos, marriage workshops and retreats. Marriage, like anything else of value, has to be maintained. It needs to be “tuned up” on a regular basis, or it will likely fall into disrepair. The signs are sometimes obvious, sometimes not: more conflict, less fun, higher levels of stress at home, or just a vague aching for the relationship to be better than it is. It can be. Get intentional about your marriage!
The basic ingredients for a stable, healthy marriage are commitment, communication, and common values. Which of these three needs the most shoring up in your relationship?
- Commitment. Commitment has been defined as “a big decision that is supported and lived out through many little decisions.” The vows you made at your wedding were just a starting point. Our motto at Compass is, “love is a direction, not a destination.” The daily decisions you make, how you think, what you say, and how you treat your mate are taking you towards more love and intimacy or in the other direction. Find ways this year to forge and strengthen your commitment to each other and to your marriage.
- Communication. “If we can’t talk, we can’t grow.” That’s a true statement for couples. Why not make this the year you learn how to talk about the things that really matter? A friend of mine says, “talk when it’s fun – really talk when it’s not fun!” There’s wisdom in that. To deal with the important issues of life, we have to be able to communicate with our spouses. And that is something we can learn. Take a workshop, go on a marriage retreat, or read a book on the subject, but do something. (For more resources, visit www.betterlove.org.)
- Common Values. As you learn to communicate, it will become easier to share the things you have in common – your goals, your dreams, your hopes, and your memories. What are God’s purposes for you as a couple? Why did he bring the two of you together? These are questions worth discussing with your spouse. Different stages of life bring different values into focus – doing some kind of ministry, raising healthy kids, leaving a legacy – each of these has its time and place. Share your expectations about them with each other.
It’s a new year, and we don’t know what it will bring. But it can be a time of growth and personal improvement if we plan for it. Take your marriage to the next level in 2016. It will be the best resolution you ever kept.
Contributed by: Larry Compter, Executive Director
Above image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net