Sharon and her husband built the garage and decided to live there until the house was constructed. Five years later, they were still in the garage. The house plans still took a prominent place on the wall… but life was busy. They hadn’t planned to let construction slip…it had just happened as the busyness of day-to-day took center stage. They were fairly comfortable for the moment…but building had stopped.
Building a marriage is much like building a home. You put deliberate plans in place and then you actively pursue the construction. Day-to-day busyness must be guarded against and the building must be conscious. When building stops, status quo settles in. Having a deliberate eye on construction can keep building fun and productive.
The marriage relationship is the highest of all human relationships. It can be a complete sharing of heart and soul, mind and body, or it can be simply a living arrangement of co-existence. Most marriages are somewhere in between. Any marriage can benefit from implementing new or re-sharpened tools. These tools move us deliberately in building a growing relationship.
Here are five practical and positive tools to use in building your marriage.
- The team tool
Remember you are a team. When two team members forget they are on the same team and begin to compete with each other, no one wins. Marriage is not about winning; it is about pulling together in the same direction. Stop for a moment and look honestly at yourself. Do you need to win every argument or be right about some insignificant disagreement?
Maybe (s)he is the one with that needs to be right. Remember you’re on the same team. In things that don’t matter, drop it. In things that do matter, plan for a time out and set a date to re-visit the issue. Verbalize the fact that you’re a team. Bring in a third party if you repeatedly stalemate on one issue.
- The response tool
- The blessing tool
Give a blessing today! In the book The Blessing, Gary Smalley and Dr. John Trent describe the deliberate practice of expressing honor and devotion to other people. Many marriage partners have come to this special relationship without ever having received honor or devotion. Sometimes they come with trust issues because these things were not a part of their heritage.
Begin today to put words of honor and devotion into your partner’s heart. Speak truth from your heart. Let them know what you appreciate. Affirm their positive traits. “You give such attention to detail.” or “Your boss knows he can depend on you.” If you have to stretch a long way to find something, start where you can. It may be something like, “I appreciate how you provide for our family. Thank you.” Or “Maggie really needed you to see that test she did so well on. Thanks for taking time to listen to her.”
For some, this tool is easy to use. For others it feels quite awkward and hard to put to use. If you draw a blank in finding words of affirmation, begin to watch carefully for the little things to affirm. Ask God, who sees the best in all of us, to reveal some positive qualities you can affirm.