I recently saw a social media post that said “Marriage is just texting each other ‘Do we need anything from the grocery store?’ until one of you dies.” While that’s silly, it can be too close to the truth for some couples. Is it possible to find ways to improve marriage as the years go by?
This year, my wife Kirsten and I celebrated our sixteenth wedding anniversary. I’ve learned a few things about being married in those years. I’ve learned some things not to do and I’ve learned how to navigate and strengthen my relationship from year to year. As husbands, let’s do the work to keep our marriages thriving while trying to raise kids, reach goals, and work well. As I reflect on what’s worked over the last few years, here are 3 ideas for how to keep improving your marriage.
Many couples go wrong by not taking the time to celebrate the milestones. It’s vital to think back and consider just how far your relationship has come, especially in an age when divorce is more common than ever. I don’t care if it’s your first anniversary, your fifth, or your one-hundredth. They are milestones all their own. As I look back over the last 16 years of marriage, these moments of celebration have played a big role in reminding Kirsten and me what brought us together in the first place.
If you don’t already have time during the year set aside, your next anniversary is a great time to start. Plan now to create a space to celebrate, reflect, and be grateful for your marriage.
Another thing Kirsten and I have done that’s helped us stay the course is regularly discuss where we are and make changes as needed in our relationship. We’ve used anniversaries as a natural time for these talks. But, the talks don’t have to be on anniversaries or super formal. We have these “calibration” meetings throughout the year as needed.
I’ll give you an example that involves our kids. Kirsten and I decided to discuss how we argued in front of the kids—with the kids. Yes, we argue sometimes—like in any healthy marriage! So, we straight up asked our older kids, “Should we argue in front of you or go somewhere else? How does it make you feel when we argue? What could we do differently when arguments happen in front of you?” I get it—this could be awkward in a home where calibration conversations aren’t the norm. But we wanted to know. Here’s the point. It was important for my wife and me to know where to draw the line in an argument. We wondered what the kids thought and now we know. Once we learned what they thought, we recalibrated. We tweaked and improved. And we’re better off for it. This should be taking place in your marriage.
3. Connect.As husbands, we need to get intentional about planning times of connection in our marriages.
The third thing that has shaped our marriage is our desire to connect. That sounds like common sense, but as we’ve seen with other couples, it’s not. For us, connecting takes setting goals. In setting goals, we include connecting points throughout the year. For instance, as I look back over the last couple of years, we’ve made memories as a family at a family camp and we’ve traveled together as a couple without the kids for a getaway. These are moments we would not have had if we hadn’t planned them out in advance. As husbands, we need to get intentional about planning times of connection in our marriages.
The bigger the family and the older the kids get, the tougher it is to find connecting points, but we’ve found it’s vital to create them. We will plan to attend marriage conferences and retreats that may be a weekend or sometimes an entire week. But you don’t have to travel to connect. We’ve also had times when we’ve committed to reading a book or doing a Bible study together through the year. This proves to be a great way to connect from year to year.
Keep these three ideas in mind so you have ways to improve marriage. If you’re not actively improving your marriage, then you may end just texting each other about what you need from the grocery store.
Sound off: What do you think is the most important way to improve marriage?