how to make an effort in a relationship

5 Ways to Hit a Hole in One in Your Marriage

In golf, and in any sport for that matter, success isn’t in luck. It’s in commitment and hard work. A quote that legendary South African golfer Gary Player has used sums it up beautifully: “The more I practice, the luckier I get.” If you’re serious about increasing your marriage’s quality, those words apply to you, too.

I’ve been married for 43 years, and I’d say Player hit a hole in one with his assessment. A good marriage isn’t the result of luck. You have to know how to make an effort in a relationship. Hard work, great decisions, and a killer marriage have an irrefutable relationship. Here are 5 ways to hit a “hole in one” in your marriage.

1. Keep the commitment fresh and right in front of you.

Each morning, when I splash water on my face, I feel the shape of my wedding ring. I move it around, and as I do, I simply say “thanks” for what it means and represents. It helps me to remember the commitment I made at the start of every new day.

2. Don’t lose your focus.

When I am standing over a golf ball, or doing anything that requires coordination and concentration, I always take a deep breath and then visualize what I want to see happen. Believe me: I am easily distracted. Same with my marriage, especially when things are busy or tense. I visualize the embrace, the kindness, or the encouraging conversation. Then I take a deep breath and I execute.

3. Don’t rely on natural talent, like charm.

My natural hand-eye coordination makes it fairly easy to make contact in any sport that involves a ball. But accuracy and finesse take work. Same with relationships. A 43-year marriage doesn’t hold together based on the winning smile and easy banter that comes naturally. It comes down to how to make an effort in a relationship. It’s time to give the natural talent a little help. For me, that involved skills such as learning to anticipate my wife’s needs, learning to think before speaking (or before spoiling things with a sharp comment), and listening more closely rather than jumping in to sound clever.

When we need help, it makes sense to ask for it.

4. Be disciplined in your practice.

The way to get better at anything (golf, kindness, encouragement, romance…) is practice. And practice takes discipline. Disciplines could be deciding to bring my wife a cool drink when she’s gardening. Rehearsing specific creative words of affirmation such as “I love the way you encourage me” or “I can’t believe how blessed I am to be married to someone so beautiful as you!” Taking notice and being positive when she’s had her hair done. Acknowledging the effort she makes to show me she loves me.

5. Get help when you need it.

Sometimes time, age, injury, or poor practices require us to seek help if we want to do our best. Similar dynamics impact our relationships. Getting the right help (maybe coaching, maybe counseling) is a sign of intention and strength, not weakness. When we need help, it makes sense to ask for it.

Sound off: Do you know how to make an effort in a relationship? How has working hard at your marriage led to success?

Huddle up with your wife and ask, “What are some things we need to work on in our marriage?”