Nearly every married couple will go through periods of difficulty. While some may be more serious and longer lasting than others, no marriage is all sunshine and happiness at every single moment. Perhaps even more common than periods of difficulty, however, are small nagging problems that can drag on for the duration of the marriage. These little things, however, can become major problems over time.
Because just about every relationship has at least one area to work on, it’s pretty safe to say that we all want to improve our relationships in one way or another, but where do we start?
The first step is to determine what you’d like to improve – this can be anything, from the largest issues to the tiniest little annoyances. This won’t necessarily be easy, because it will involve admitting that you’re doing something wrong, or at least not doing something as well as you could be. Even though it might be tough, identifying places to focus your efforts (even if it’s just one at a time) as a pair is essential. Once you’ve picked something to work on, you have to set some clear goals – create a benchmark to strive for.
When you lay out specific, explicit goals (and agree upon them), there’s no turning back. Even if the goal is as simple as “hold hands more often,” it will be on both of your minds, set in stone, and you’ll both adhere to it – like having a “buddy” to help keep you accountable, if the goals are agreed upon beforehand, you can support each other in pursuing them.
Setting goals and sticking to them are often two very different things though. Here are some rules to keep in mind:
1. Actively think about your goal – keep it in the front of your mind
2. Take action to move toward your goal every single day
3. Allowing yourself minor relapses is counterproductive – stay vigilant
4. Work toward your goal for your spouse, for yourself, and for both of you – and know the importance of each reason
5. It’s good to celebrate your successes, but don’t celebrate too soon – it takes time and effort to form new, good habits
No goal is ever achieved instantaneously. Small victories over time will eventually lead to large breakthroughs, and this is exactly how taking steps to improve your marriage works. Little by little (with active goal setting and pursuit) your spouse will help cleaning up after pets, you will remember to turn off the coffee pot, you’ll develop a good way to resolve battles over entertainment devices, or resolve any other little issue that is tugging at the solidarity of your marriage.
The point is this: it takes practice, but if you set realistic goals and work toward them every day (not just when you feel like it), positive change isn’t so difficult at all!
Do your marriage a favor, just talk about the little stuff that bugs you (and ask what you might be doing to annoy your spouse). Once it’s on the table, you can begin the steps to solving the problem before it gets blown out of proportion. Don’t let the little things get in the way of big happiness.