So you have come to the point where you believe that investing in your marriage is an important step. However, you might be unsure about where to go from here. What steps can you take that will strengthen your marriage?
A first vital step is to make a conscious effort to communicate clearly and frequently with your spouse. Communication is like many good habits in life. It is difficult to get good at it but once it becomes a comfortable part of life it gets easier. On the other hand if you let good communication habits slip it becomes easier and easier not to communicate. The key then is to make sure that investing in good communication habits is a daily part of your marriage.
What does good communication look like? Those who study communication skills say that listening is the most important of communication. This may seem odd to us at first. But just think how many times you have heard someone say "You just do not understand." Many times misunderstandings are a result of poor listening skills. Instead of listening to my wife while she is speaking I am considering my rebuttal to the point she made. Another part of good communication is body language. Many times I may say one thing with my words but send a very different, and more powerful, message with the way I stand, fold my arms, roll my eyes or in other ways show impatience or disagreement. Good communication also involves empathizing with my spouse. I need to try to view the situation from their point of view. As I practice these skills I will be investing in my marriage.
The second way to invest in your marriage is to view it not in terms of you and me but in terms of us. Many times in arguments spouses are so concerned with winning the argument on an individual level that they fail to think about what effect the argument will have on them on a team level. They fail to realize that regardless who "wins" the argument, the marriage loses. This results not in investing in my marriage but in withdrawal essential energy, emotions and time that could be used to build my marriage up rather than tearing it down. Once I choose to view my relationship with my wife as "us" rather than "me" and "you" I will be more willing to compromise, sacrifice and put "our" needs over "my" desires.
A third way to invest in your marriage is to spend time together. A frequent complaint that women have is that their husband only wants to spend time with them when sex is involved. Men on the other hand complain that wives only want to spend time with them when talking about feelings is involved. Of course both of these stereotypes fall short of the truth but they illustrate the point that both husbands and wives know that spending time together is an important way to invest in their marriage. One suggestion is to find a handful of activities that you enjoy doing together and make conscious decisions to do those things regularly throughout the week. Watching a favorite program together, walking the dog, going shopping or just staying home and playing a game or talking are all activities that build your relationship and are valuable ways of investing in your marriage.