Some people buy stocks that look promising, but only check them once a year to see if they’ve made money. Other people study the market consistently, analyze their investments, and make corrections to maximize their return.
Your marriage is the greatest investment you’ll ever make. It’s not “day trading.” It’s “buy and hold.” The more you pay attention, the greater will be the return.
Awesome marriages happen by design, not by default.
So, what can you do in the next 365 days to get the greatest possible return?
- Attend a marriage conference together. People pay for classes to improve their fitness, correct their golf swing, or learn a hobby or skill. Why not invest in a solid seminar or coaching session to learn how to improve your relationship? My wife’s parents went to a marriage seminar at their church when they were in their 70s. I love that.
- Pause before responding. We’ve all said something hurtful during conflict that we regretted. Develop the habit of pausing during tough conversations and choosing your words carefully. Always ask yourself, Is what I’m about to say really the response I should give
- When things get tough, don’t quit. A good friend told me, “When you’re in the middle of a pile of manure, you feel like giving up and going back. But it’s the same distance to get out if you move forward.”
- Give your spouse more attention this year. Count up (seriously) how many hours you spend watching TV or working on your hobbies, and how much time you spend eyeball-to-eyeball with your spouse. Do a little bit less of the first ones, and a little bit more of the last one.
- Treat your spouse better than anyone else in your life. “Familiarity breeds contempt.” It’s a cliché, but tends to be true. Keep pursuing your spouse the way you did when you were first dating, and never lose the sense of wonder.
- Don’t compare your spouse with others. Your neighbor’s grass always looks greener when you’re viewing it from your yard, because you only see the green blade tips. All you see looking down on your lawn are the bare spots and the weeds. There are a lot of nice lawns out there, but there’s only one that belongs to you. Take care of it, and it will flourish.
- Don’t insist on being right. A lot of battles aren’t worth fighting, because they take energy away from the ones that need our attention. Learn to disagree without disrespect.
- Give each other a 15-second kiss daily. I read about this a few months ago, and found it valuable. You can’t rush through it, and it reminds you to slow down and reconnect.
- Set financial goals together. Money is often the biggest source of conflict between couples. When emotions rise because of money issues, use them as a trigger to get help. Determine to face financial issues as a team, rather than letting them divide you. Go through a good book or course together, with the goal of unity.
- Pay attention to your spouse’s day. Don’t just say, “How was your day?” Take the time to explore the journey your mate’s been on while you’ve been apart.
- Surprise your spouse occasionally. Do something unexpected for no reason or holiday. Drive out before she’s awake and bring home her favorite mocha so she has a treat when she wakes up—or wash his car when he’s not looking.
- Don’t complain to friends about your spouse. That’s sacred territory, and needs to be kept between the two of you. Talk with your spouse, not about your spouse (except when it’s positive).
- Hang out with people you admire—together and separately. It’s true that we become like the people with whom we spend the most time. Find a couple that you want your marriage to be like, and simply do life with them occasionally. Do the same with your individual friends.
- Value the differences. That’s what attracted you in the first place, and what brings the richness into your relationship. If you both felt exactly the same way about everything, one of you would be unnecessary.
Having the best year of marriage won’t ever happen by accident.
It happens by intention. Whether your marriage is solid or shaky, make the investment. You can’t always guarantee what the return on that investment will be. But there’s one thing you can be sure of: If you don’t invest, there will be no return. Start investing intentionally. Start today.
It’s your best chance for the best year of marriage ever!
Used with permission. Mike Bechtle is a popular speaker, author and blogger, a former minister and Christian university professor, and is a Senior Consultant for FranklinCovey Co. He has authored four books, including People Can’t Drive You Crazy if You Don’t Give Them the Keys (Revell). He blogs at www.mikebechtle.com.