My friend Ken has a thing about cars. He owns a classic Mercedes convertible from the 1970s and he treats that car like they’re dating. You know what I mean: The spa treatment once a week, plus regular tune-ups. Don’t forget polishing the tires and keeping his baby in the garage. How about oiling the soft-top and detailing, inside and out? “Good morning, would you like your spark plugs changed?” Ken knows how to pamper his car—but not how to fix his marriage.
When his 15-year marriage was all but done, I asked him if he treated his wife with anywhere near the care and attention he offers his car. He appeared—and I kid you not—confused. “What do you mean?” he asked. “We’re married. Doesn’t a good marriage take care of itself?” Nope. But here are 4 ways to fix your marriage.
It’s the little things. Opening the car door. Pulling out the chair. A touch on her shoulder when you walk through the room. Turning off the TV and having a conversation. Saying “I love you” when you leave the house. Making eye contact. Saying, “You look great this morning!” Asking, randomly, “Can I get you something?” Always communicating that she is on your mind.
Making careful plans for special occasions in advance. Putting in a little research to find something to give her that she values. Ordering takeout when you know she’s extra busy. Anticipating rather than reacting.
Investment can involve anything we value: time, intention, and extra work as well as money. Investment speaks to where we allocate our resources and says a lot about what we believe is important. Investment in marriage can lead us to (and should lead us to) reevaluate where we place our priorities.
4. Preventative MaintenanceA marriage that works takes a lot of work.
Marriages break down when we neglect essential upkeep. My wife Rebekah and I schedule an annual assessment/review. We ask each other hard questions. We take a deep look at finances together. Sometimes we discover parts of our relationship that need to be reengineered, like when we’re not dating enough, or we talk about work too much, or when we’re worried our best friends are more important than our own friendship. We decide when to replace guys’ night out and girls’ night out with our night out. We determine when to re-bank some extra relationship points because the tank is nearly empty.
Here’s the bottom line: A marriage that works takes a lot of work. But that’s a good thing because like anything worthwhile, great relationships are worth the work.
Sound off: What is one special “care and maintenance” initiative you use that helps strengthen your marriage?