Last year was so – 2020. A year many people want never to repeat. Most are hoping and praying for a better 2021. That may be true about your marriage too. But your relationship won’t just slide into deeper satisfaction, intimacy and joy. You’ll have to grab the keys and do something intentional if you want a better marriage in 2021.

The thing about marriage is that your spouse gets a vote too; the quality of your relationship depends on both of you. But your thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions have ripple effects, and they impact your spouse and the environment of your marriage.

This is a time many people make New Year’s Resolutions. Like most important things, the only way you can reap something good tomorrow is by choosing the investments you make today. If you want your marriage to be healthier, stronger, and more connected, here are some powerful things that are within your power to do, keys to a better marriage in 2021.

Only God knows what your marriage will look like a year from now. But I can guarantee it won’t be better than it is today without you making positive investments such as these.

  1. You Go First

Husband or wife, you take responsibility for you. Let’s assume for a moment that your spouse is immature, clueless, abrasive, even outright hurtful. In light of that, who do you choose to be? And even more important, who does God need you to be – right now, where you are, in the middle of your messy marriage?

There may be small stuff you’ve obsessed over that you need to let go of with grace and forgiveness. You may have places in your own character that the Holy Spirit needs to change so you are able to be the spouse God needs you to be. There may be old baggage keeping your marriage from flourishing that needs to be intentionally faced, addressed, and healed. You may have tried to sweep important stuff “under the rug” that you need to deal with.

Ask God to show you what step you need to take next. If it’s finding the appropriate ways to nourish your own soul so you have something to bring to the marriage, do that. If it’s asking forgiveness from your spouse, do that. Or maybe it’s committing to getting some help, or having some hard conversations.

Whatever it is, you go first.

  1. Study Your Spouse

Many married people who write to me ask things such as, “How can I make my spouse show more affection?” Or, “What can I do to make my spouse have sex with me?” Those questions are understandable, but they aren’t helpful. Whatever the issue is, look under the surface. Consider the Why.

Often the Why to your spouse’s irritating behavior has nothing to do with you. Understanding their back story can change how you see things, and also give you insight into the best ways to relate to them and improve the relationship.

I sometimes ask a married person who’s seeking advice, “What do you think your spouse would say about this if I were to talk to them?” From what you already know, what’s their perspective? That doesn’t mean they’re “right!” It does mean understanding your spouse will make a difference.

Ask God to show you His perspective. Ask Him to let you see the world through your spouse’s eyes, to feel what he/she feels. And ask Him to show you how He sees your marriage, your spouse’s heart, and your own heart.

  1. Communicate

Your marriage will not get better without communication. Many women keep pestering their husband to talk; you may need to learn healthier skills of listening, creating safety, and finding the smartest ways to draw your husband out. Many men struggle in communicating about things that are deeper than information; you may need to stretch yourself to learn how to open up even when it seems difficult or unimportant.

Do your homework. Plan your communication invitation carefully. Then rather than criticizing or blaming, imagine yourselves on the same side of an issue working together to solve a problem “out there.” You’re not fighting your spouse; you’re addressing a “third thing” – the relationship challenge – and working toward finding solutions.

Most people do not come into marriage knowing the skills necessary for healthy communication. But it’s something you can learn! If communication in your marriage is not where it needs to be, investing in this skill may well change everything.

Learning more about your Communication Personality Style is a great place to start.

And our Guide to Healthy Communication in Marriage helps you gain these important skills.

New Year, New Marriage

If your spouse is reluctant to engage with you in working on your relationship, it may be because they don’t want to go back to more of the same. If your marriage is broken, a healthy perspective to hold on to is that you are working toward a new marriage, one where both of you are growing and supporting each other in becoming who God designed you to be.

And that’s what God wants for you too.

Your Turn: What do you want your marriage to look like a year from now? What are you willing to do to make that happen? Leave a comment below.

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Is Your Communication Broken?

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 improving your communication at any stage of your relationship.

Take the Communication Personality Assessment now!