I read this today, and I thought, “I want to do this.” The author challenges us to do five things in 2011 to make it the best year of our marriage. He guarantees I will see a transformation in my relationship with My Love. So, here I paraphrase/personalize his list and set more goals for my marriage in 2011 and beyond.
1. “Choose rose-colored glasses.” There may be things I find annoying about My Love, quirks and habits that annoy me, but he has many strengths I can celebrate as well. I can choose to focus on the things that bug me or all the things that I fell in love with in the first place. The qualities I celebrate and pay attention to will likely grow. So, I choose to be thankful for, and pay attention to his good qualities… build his strengths.
2. “Bring out the best in your mate.” I have the power to bring out the best (or worst) in My Love. Whatever I focus on will become larger in our relationship. So, I choose this year to take note of the qualities I want more of and compliment him about them. I plan to thank him for the extra niceties he does for me (washing my clothes, doing the dishes, cleaning the bathroom, scrubbing the floors, raking the leaves, and on and on and on). I plan to take note of his caring attitude toward others (family and friends). I plan to express to him that I notice his generous spirit and how he cares for me and others. By doing this I will reinforce instead of break down the qualities that are important.
3. “Nurture your mate's dreams.” “There is little more life-giving than noting what is truly important to your mate.” What are My Love’s secret dreams? What really makes his heart sing? I plan to notice these things and encourage him to pursue his dreams. I plan to find ways to let him know I am willing to make sacrifices for him to pursue something near and dear to his heart. The article says that nurturing his dreams builds an incredibly powerful connection to him. I haven’t done this very well in the last year because his dreams scare me, but I plan to make more of an effort to overcome my fears and support his dreams.
4. “Initiate change by encouragement.” Change doesn't occur with criticism. So, I plan to stop. Plain and simple (not really simple or easy!) stop. Every issue that arises -and there will be many- can be handled more effectively with encouragement. The author of this article gives an example of money. He says if I don’t generally like the way My Love spends money, I need to find a time that he does well and praise him for that time. Praise him for his careful spending in that one instance. I can say I am concerned about money and I appreciate how he handled that situation. “People make changes with encouragement, not criticism.”
5. “Maintain mutual admiration.” Positive momentum in marriage takes intentionally staying positive and focusing on positive. I need to resist the natural temptation to slip into criticism and negativity. I need to instead be a Pollyanna and notice the good things about My Love. “Everyone wants to be praised and responds positively to it.” I need to compliment him. Catch him doing things well. Speak highly of him.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philipians 4: 8 -- Great verse for everyday life. Great verse for marriage relations.
Until next time…