How To Make Your Imperfect Marriage Better


I don’t have a perfect marriage. I have a good marriage. My wife, Cheryl, and I work at it. We are intentional. I would even say we have a really good marriage — but, it’s not perfect.

It isn’t perfect, because our marriage — probably like yours — is a work in progress. And, the real reason we don’t have a perfect marriage is because there are two imperfect people in this… Click To Tweet — just like in your marriage.

But as a result of my years of working with hundreds of marriages in distress, I have a few thoughts on what it would take to have the perfect marriage. I’m not saying we will ever get there. You won’t either. But, having a standard to push for, and then actually pushing for it, always seems to make me better than I am today.

If I had a perfect marriage, here are 12 things we would probably do:

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  1. Neither of us would ever go to bed angry. I’ve learned over the years that if a couple goes to be angry, they wake up angrier. Clearing the slate each day — being “okay” with each other as we go to sleep — helps us start each today together rather than apart. We may not agree on everything, but our hearts are heading in the same direction.
  1. We would always consider each other’s interests ahead of our own. The Bible says to do this, right? And, imagine the power for the marriage when both parties obey the command!
  1. We would invest our best time, apart from our time with Christ, in each other. The world demands a lot from us. Outside demands can pull us apart if we aren’t careful. If the marriage were perfect, we would never let anything steal our most precious time.
  1. We would love Christ deeply and model his love for each other. I’m a better person when I’m full of Christ’s presence. My wife, Cheryl, is too. Jesus on the inside — working on my outside — changes who I am to the world — and to Cheryl.
  1. We would protect each other’s heart above all things. This is so true, so profound. When the heart is injured, it impacts everything else in our life.
  1. We would value each other more for who we are than what we do. It’s easy to get caught up in what we do or don’t do for each other. And, while each spouse should pull their own weight, when this is the primary focus, we often forget the value the other person has to us apart from those things.
  1. We would always honor each other with our words. In a perfect marriage, we would always encourage one another. We would remove negativity about each other from our conversations. The goal would be to use words to bless the other person, never to destroy.

In a perfect marriage, we would remove negativity about each other from our conversations.

  1. We would listen genuinely to each other. So many problems in a marriage are simply communication problems. We don’t ask questions to make sure we understand. We misread intent. We illustrate value to another person when we truly care what they have to say.
  1. Our prayers would be more for each other than for ourselves. We all get caught up in what we want or need God to do for us. When we focus our prayers on our spouse, it’s amazing to see how God honors them. He seems to love humility.
  1. We’d encourage each other’s dreams. A perfect marriage would be made up of two cheerleaders — each cheering for the other person to succeed.
  1. We would never take what we have together for granted. It’s so easy to do, isn’t it? We fall into routines and we forget the love we have for one another, the way the other spouse blesses our life, what we would be missing without them. We can get so distracted by life we fail to realize the value our spouse adds to our life.
  1. We would remind each other often of all the reasons we married. We all like to know the person we married cares, they love us unconditionally, and — if they had to do it all over again — they would do so without reservation.

There’s my list. I’m sure there are many others — if we had a perfect marriage. Maybe if we — I — just worked on one of these at a time we’d have — I’d have — an even better marriage than we have today.


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