If you answered YES to our recent question Do You Need a Transformed Marriage?, you’re already on the road. Perhaps you’re at a B+, but you’re hungry for an even deeper level of intimacy and satisfaction. Or you may be at a D-, and feel desperate for anything that might keep your marriage from shattering completely.
You’ve hopefully learned by now that you cannot change your spouse. Your behavior, attitude, and communication can influence your spouse greatly, but the only person you can change is you. That’s why the first important step toward your marriage transformation is to Begin with You.
One parenthetical comment; this article applies when both spouses are basically people of good will. If you’re not sure, spend some time praying about God’s perspective on your spouse. If your spouse has an evil heart consistently bent on destruction you will need to approach the relationship differently. I’m not talking about spiritually mature, but about their general intent. God can still restore, but you may have to get completely out of the way in the meantime.
The questions that follow also do not absolve your spouse from their responsibilities. But they will help you focus on the only thing you can control – yourself.
It’s time for a little self-reflection.
What were the elements that drew you to your spouse initially?
Remembering what drew you together in the first place may help you focus on the good things in your spouse. It’s likely they still have many of those positive characteristics.
Based on your behavior, where has your marriage ranked in your priorities?
Life makes it easy for work, children, business, ministry, or hobbies to take a higher priority above your marriage. The only place marriage can be successful is in second place – right after your relationship with God Himself.
What is the one thing your spouse wishes were different in your marriage?
Perhaps you already know the answer to this question. If you do, why not do all you can to move things in that direction? If you don’t know, this would be a great date night question to ask each other.
How consistently have you sought to meet your spouse’s needs?
No human being can meet all of another human’s needs. But the only way marriage works is for you to focus first on meeting your spouse’s needs, even above your own.
How well have you learned to frame your communication so that your spouse can best hear you?
Communication is the number 1 issue couples struggle with. Listen to yourself with your spouse’s ears. Is there anything you need to change so that they can hear you well?
How often would your spouse say you criticize, nag, or complain about what he/she does?
Does your spouse feel they can never win with you? That’s a sure way to make the walls between you higher and thicker.
How well have you learned to offer your spouse healthy forgiveness?
Healthy forgiveness does not mean accepting bad behavior, but without forgiveness no marriage between two fallen human beings can survive. This is a skill you must take time to learn.
How well would your spouse say you are at inviting him/her into intimacy and connection?
If you were your spouse, would you want to come closer to you? What would invite your spouse to want to be more connected? This might include conversation, listening, sex, appreciation, respect, etc.
Would you consider you and your spouse to be friends?
A successful life together must include friendship. How often have you tried entering your spouse’s world, showing interest and investing time in what they find important? Have some fun together.
On the scale of open-to-closed, what is the state of your heart toward your spouse?
The state of your heart is enormously important. A closed heart will always see the worst in the other person. An open heart invites connection and is enormously appealing.
What do you think a marriage consultant would encourage you to do to improve your marriage?
Sometimes being a consultant to yourself helps you see the big picture better. Do you need to set some healthy boundaries, or stop rescuing your spouse from the consequences of their behavior? Is there a way you can call out the best in your spouse, and help them be their best self?
How well do you think you understand your spouse? Do you think they feel understood by you?
Don’t you want to be understood? Your spouse does too. Seeking first to understand your spouse will open many doors to communication, intimacy, and healing.
How consistently do you bring your best self to your marriage?
You are not perfect, and your spouse is not either. But God does expect and equip you to bring your best self to your marriage. Be continually learning, studying your spouse, and growing in your ability to love well.
What are some ways in which God has changed you through your marriage relationship? How well have you cooperated? Have you been resisting?
A healthy marriage will not leave you the same. Learning to love well means becoming softer, more courageous, less selfish, more understanding. Do you know where God is trying to grow you right now?
How often are you praying for your marriage? For your spouse?
The only way marriage can survive is with God as the divine glue holding you together. Are you seeking Him regularly? Many couples struggle here, but you can get better. Decide you will invite God into your relationship often.
Hopefully this exercise has shed light on one or more areas where you can step up your investment in your marriage. If you begin a new dance, your partner may have to change their steps as well.
May God bless you with the wisdom, courage, and grace to persevere toward a transformed marriage.
Your Turn: Which of these questions did you struggle with the most? What next step are you going to take toward a transformed marriage? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- Trying to change your spouse will not result in marriage transformation. You can only cooperate with God in changing YOU. These 15 self-reflection questions will help you see what YOU can do toward a transformed marriage. Tweet that.
How would you Grade your Communication?
Better communication is the Number 1 issue couples want improved in their relationship. Understanding your Communication Style will be an important step in making your communication more effective.
This brief FREE Communication Personality Assessment will provide you personalized results indicating your communication strengths, communication challenges, and some tips on taking your communication to the next level. You really can experience deeper intimacy and a more loving relationship.