ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Improve My Marriage? Six Ideas For A Joyful Marriage

Updated on May 21, 2014
How to help your marriage?  Consider trying one of our ideas, just one small step at a time.  Your marriage can be joyful!
How to help your marriage? Consider trying one of our ideas, just one small step at a time. Your marriage can be joyful! | Source

Six Tips:

  1. Improve your communication.
  2. Laugh together.
  3. Be teachable, willing to learn together.
  4. Learn each others' love languages.
  5. Serve each other daily.
  6. Be on the same page with money.

You Have A Choice

According to the American Psychological Association, 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the US end in divorce. But, that means 50-60 percent do not! You do not have to fall into that statistic of divorce. Rather, your marriage can be joyful, one day at a time!

In this hub we share some of the insights we have seen, learned, and try to implement in our marriage. From improving our communication and laughing together, to being teachable and learning our love languages, each day is a choice to love each other. And by loving each other, choosing a joyful marriage.

What do you think is most important in creating a joyful marriage?

See results
Even while building a gingerbread house, our communication was central.  We were able to decide on a plan together, and as we worked, we communicated necessary modifications and encouragement.
Even while building a gingerbread house, our communication was central. We were able to decide on a plan together, and as we worked, we communicated necessary modifications and encouragement. | Source

How would you rate communication in your marriage?

See results

Idea 1: Improve Your Communication

Communication is central to all relationships. Healthy communication where both sides feel heard and understood takes time to build. It takes willingness, humility, perseverance, forgiveness, and love, to name a few. While we are still a young married couple, we have grown in improving our communication.

Waffle vs. Spaghetti Brains Affect Our Communication

Even in our first years of marriage it has been very helpful to realize that my husband has a brain like a waffle with different "boxes." One of his boxes is his "nothing box," where he goes in his brain to decompress from his day. If he is in his "nothing box" and I want to talk, it might take him awhile to fully engage in our conversation. He has told me it is helpful to explicitly give him a direction to our conversation. It sounds silly and not helpful for me, but I might say, "I'm moving from budget to something a friend said to me today." As a woman, I have a spaghetti brain where everything is connected. I can talk about things that are seemingly unrelated to him, but connected in my brain. But, by understanding what helps him, I show him respect and am able to feel heard since he is more quickly able to know which box he is moving into in his brain.

15 Minute Challenge

Not sure where to start? How about the first 15 minutes when you and your spouse are together after work. Spend just 15 minutes talking about whatever is on your mind or heart. Don't pick up your cell phones or get dinner together...just talk. While you are talking, try one of the principles. Hold your spouse's hand, mirror their response by repeating back what he/she said to you, or pray together. Just start with 15 minutes and build from there. Intimacy comes when both feel loved by being understood

Five Communication Principles

In his article "Five Communication Tools That Saved My Marriage", Rob Flood describes the importance of communication in marriage with five principles. We regularly incorporate these principles in our daily relationship. We are not experts, but we do agree with Mr. Flood. These are examples of how we use the principles in our marriage:

1. First Response: In disagreement, it is natural to want to respond by fighting back with words. However, a gentle response is highly effective. Rather than stir up anger, a gentle response aids to dissipate the tension. Oh how true this is! Taking a breath and a step back is critical when I feel myself getting defensive. Do I want to be right or happy? Do I want to fight or understand?

2. Physical Touch: In addition to responding gently, it is also amazing how simply touching during a disagreement helps. While it may be natural to want to increase physical space between each other, touching your spouse's hand, knee, or shoulder in conflict brings an instant connection. It is a visual reminder to both parties that you are still connected. Disagreement may continue, but you will work through it.

3. Proper Timing: Timing is also important. When my husband or I come home from work, we often need a little time to transition from work to home. The first minutes home are not the best time to bring up a deep conversation. Considering proper time takes patience, but bring forth better dialogue. If you're not sure it is a good time, simply ask! It sounds simple, but in our marriage it is helpful. I might say something like, "I'd like to talk with you about a budget issue tonight. Could you let me know when it would be a good time to talk?" My husband is great at letting me know when he is ready, usually just a few minutes later after he has had time to switch to his "budget" box in his brain.

4. Mirroring: My husband is better at this than me. Mirroring means choosing to understand rather than be understood. I am learning to say, "So what I hear you saying is..." with my husband and with my friends. When someone says that to me I feel heard.

5. Prayer: This is by far the most IMPORTANT communication tool in marriage. My husband and I are committed to praying with and for each other every day. While we were dating Rob shared that he had heard a pastor say that couples who pray together decrease their likelihood of divorce from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Prayer develops intimacy and trust in our relationship and only helps build our communication.

.


Laughing together at our rehearsal lunch.
Laughing together at our rehearsal lunch. | Source

Idea 2: Laugh Together

The simple act of smiling releases endorphins. Endorphins are a natural chemical that send signals to our brain telling us we are happy. And when we smile, our brain releases dopamine, causing our body's to actually feel happy. According to Yale Scientific Magazine, research shows that smiling can improve our cardiovascular health and immune system! Smiling and laughter help us feel better! While my husband and I are both naturally introverts, it is easy for us to take life seriously. So, we make sure to help each other laugh.

For example, when we are driving and one of us is annoyed at another vehicle, sometimes we play a spontaneous game of "What's their story?" We make up a funny story about why they are driving the way they are and pretty soon we are laughing. There is something about laughing that draws us closer together. It always has.

It's Not About The Nail

This video is a funny take on this couple's communication style. As you watch, their conversation reveals the hidden truth that a husband and wife are partners and really can help each other! This couple does not laugh. But as a couple, take time to laugh together, including at the silly things we do each day. Instead of ignoring our differences, it is okay to recognize and embrace them. Sometimes through laughter.

Take Time To Laugh

Idea 3: Be Teachable

We will never know everything about ourselves and each other, but it is amazing how reading and studying together brings us closer. Instead of having the attitude that we're okay, our marriage is already great, we are PROACTIVE and continually learning from others. Books are a fantastic tool to learn from others who are further down the road from us. While we are not always reading a book together, each year we do set aside some time to read aloud until we have completed a book. Reading aloud takes more time than reading it separately. This is time spent well!

Our top 3 marriage/life books are:

  1. The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary D. Chapman
  2. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs
  3. The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life by Tommy Newberry

Idea 4: Learn Each Others' Love Languages

Love is patient, love is kind...
Love is patient, love is kind... | Source

What is your spouse's primary love language?

See results

Love Languages

Each Monday morning I am sad to see my husband leave for work. No matter how much time we have together over the weekend, I still want more. It isn’t because we are constantly having amazing adventures or incredibly romantic moments together, but simply because being together is the best.

When I was a child, my mom often wrote notes in my lunchbox. I remember the notes making me feel like she was with me giving me a hug and smile. It made me feel good! Fast-forward several years later. While my husband and I were dating, it didn’t take long to figure out his primary love language is words. By “figure out” I mean I asked him! The best way to figure something out about my husband is to be direct and ask. Men are simple sometimes. If you aren’t sure of you or your spouse’s love language, I highly encourage you to take the quiz at www.5lovelanguages.com and then talk about it. It just so happens, mine is the same as his. I know this isn’t the same for all couples, so I am grateful! I just think, “What might I like to hear if I were in his situation today?” Then, I write it down.

So, back to the lunchbox notes.

In an effort to save money and eat leftovers, I pack our lunches for the next day each evening. Inside my husband’s lunchbox I keep a plastic bag. I write him a note on a simple index card and seal it inside the bag so he can read it when he has his lunch. I have missed days, and some notes have been a simple “I love you” while others have been more specific, but I have pretty faithfully written him a note each day since we have been married. When the stack of note cards in the baggie is getting bulky, I start a new bag and save the old one in a box with other love notes I gave him while we were dating. Sometimes he surprises me by sneaking notes in my lunchbox or under my cereal bowl before I eat breakfast. Words of encouragement are…encouraging!

Now your spouse may not be a "words" person. His or her primary love language might be quality time or physical touch. Take the time to learn how to love each other well.

Idea 5: Serve Each Other Daily

We washed each others' feet at our wedding to symbolize our commitment to serve each other.
We washed each others' feet at our wedding to symbolize our commitment to serve each other. | Source

You serve your spouse when you...

  • Look into your spouse's eyes and say, "I love you just the way you are."
  • Ask, "How can I care for your heart today?"
  • Ask, "What can I do to help?" Then do it!
  • Do a chore for your spouse you know he/she doesn't enjoy without being asked.
  • Listen instead of fight.
  • Give your spouse a back massage instead of watching your favorite TV show.

Perhaps Unload the Dishwasher?

What a lovely reminder to serve each other by emptying the dishwasher!  This site has lots of cute dishwasher magnets.  This is our favorite!
What a lovely reminder to serve each other by emptying the dishwasher! This site has lots of cute dishwasher magnets. This is our favorite! | Source

Serving Each Other

The most important way you can serve each other is to pray together. By praying together you are giving your relationship to God, putting Him at the center. It is amazing how praying together causes you to be more in tune with what God is doing and with each other. Consequently, you are better able as a couple to joyfully serve God by serving each other.

Philippians 1:1-3 (NIV)

"I thank my God every time I remember you.

In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

It is right for me to feel this way about you, since I have you in my heart. …

And this is my prayer: that your love may about more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God."

Who handles the money in your marriage?

See results

Idea 6: Be On The Same Page With Money

We both read Dave Ramsey's book prior to being married. Many of his ideas shape our approach to handling our money. I enjoy managing our money. Since I now work part-time, I view it as part of my job as well. My husband deals with budgets at work, and is happy that I enjoy taking care of money at home. It works well for us! Here are four tools we use to be on the same page with money:

  1. We keep our monthly bills and accounts all on one page in a shared location (described below).
  2. At the beginning of every month we have a budget chat to go over the status of our accounts, our goals,budget changes and so on. In between these chats, we always discuss unique purchases before making them.
  3. We have a common place to put our receipts. For us this is simply a basket in our kitchen. Then, every week or so I write these receipts into our budget categories.
  4. Most importantly, we maintain a budget binder. We have several categories of our budget and how much of each pay goes into that. Rather than using an envelope system as Dave Ramsey recommends, we simply know our limits and commit to sticking to them by recording every purchase and noting how much is left in that category for the month.

When we were first married we were combining old accounts and opening new ones together. I needed a way to keep it all straight. Also, if I ever became really ill and unable to manage our money, I wanted to make sure my husband would be able to easily see our bills and accounts all in one place. It isn’t the happiest way to think, but the thought came to mind. So, I combined all our bills and accounts in one document. My husband and I agreed on a safe place to keep it and when I change the document, I let him know. It is vital that we are both on the same page in all areas, particularly money!

So, here is the basic framework of the document. It has five columns: Due, For, Amount, Method, and Notes. Each account is listed in order of due date, even if the date is variable (in which case I put it under the earliest it is due and then note that it is approximate). Accounts without due dates, such as email and banking accounts, are listed at the end. And, voila! Now we both know exactly when things are due, how to pay them, and account information.

Our Monthly Bills Template

We keep our monthly bills organized on a single sheet of paper.
We keep our monthly bills organized on a single sheet of paper. | Source

How?

The key to a joyful marriage is keeping Christ at the center of our lives. If we invite Him into our marriage daily, then our marriage is strong.

Invite joy into your marriage.
Invite joy into your marriage. | Source

The Key To a Joyful Marriage

These ideas are not revolutionary, but we have seen them work even early in our marriage. It is freeing to realize each day is a new choice. Not only that, but each moment is a new choice!

Today, you can choose to:

  1. Improve your communication.
  2. Laugh together.
  3. Be teachable, willing to learn together.
  4. Learn each others' love languages.
  5. Serve each other daily.
  6. Be on the same page with money.

What is one choice you can make today to invite joy into your marriage?

About the Author

Thefedorows is a regular contributor to Hubpages, an avid pinner, and frequent blogger.

© 2014 thefedorows

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 3 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      I really enjoyed the last idea. My husband and I were not always on the same page when it came to money. We've been married almost 13 years, and a big part of the reason is that we learned to communicate.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 3 years ago from the Midwest

      That's great to hear cygnetbrown! Congratulations on being married almost 13 years!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      At the recommendation of our local religious leader, we purchased the five love languages book. It was a real eye opener for both of us. We thought we knew at the beginning what each other's languages were, but we found out it was different than we thought! Since then, we have been more open to other things that we learned when we listened to the book on CD together while travelling. It was well worth the time!

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 3 years ago from the Midwest

      That's wonderful, Denise! What a great idea to listen to the book on CD together while traveling. We can never stop learning about each other. I agree, it is "well worth the time."

    • profile image

      Talita 2 years ago

      My wife and i ended up being quite satisfied Ervin maeagnd to round up his research from your ideas he made out of your weblog. It is now and again perplexing just to always be releasing instructions which usually many others could have been selling. So we acknowledge we've got you to thank for this. All the explanations you've made, the straightforward web site menu, the friendships you assist to promote it's got everything incredible, and it is leading our son in addition to our family reason why the subject matter is fun, and that is tremendously important. Many thanks for everything!

    • profile image

      Domenica 2 years ago

      I really watned to compose a brief word to be able to express gratitude to you for these stunning techniques you are giving on this website. My considerable internet investigation has now been paid with good points to go over with my great friends. I d repeat that most of us website visitors are extremely fortunate to exist in a useful site with very many marvellous professionals with beneficial basics. I feel really grateful to have come across your webpages and look forward to some more pleasurable times reading here. Thanks once again for everything.

    • thefedorows profile image
      Author

      thefedorows 2 years ago from the Midwest

      Talita, Thank you for sharing! I am so glad you found this hub helpful!

      Domenica, Your kind words are much appreciated. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your feedback.

    Click to Rate This Article