One of the most important things that you can do to improve the quality of your relationship is to take personal responsibility for your own personal growth. Take a look at those boxes in the shop. How many of them are YOUR boxes of clutter? Do an honest self-assessment. Independent of your spouse, you need to evaluate what areas in your life need work. And then communicate that to your spouse so that she can be actively involved in the process of helping you deal with your issues.
- Discuss the particular area of concern
- Pray about it together
- Allow time for change
- Remember to be thankful for even small movements in the right direction
And you need to be realistic about the time frame to deal with these issues. Some of the areas we need to grow in most have been habit patterns ingrained in us for years and it will take some time to reverse the habits. You’ll need to exercise a high degree of patience with yourself as you work at overcoming issues. And further, if you are the spouse helping your partner, you need to be patient even more.
Then we need to face the issues that surfaced since we’ve been married, our JOINT baggage so to speak. Face it… when we first got married, we did not have extensive training in how to be a good life partner. We were single and the only needs that we paid close attention to were our own.
To be sure, our family background should have taught us the importance of the following character qualities:
This may come as a shock to some of you, but most of us did not come from perfect families. To one degree or another we come from damaged backgrounds. We each begin married life needing to work on those areas in which we are lacking. At the same time, we need to develop the skills necessary to be a good spouse. We are basically working on growing up while we are working on developing the skills necessary to build a fulfilling relationship.
So it is a process. If we really understand this, we can have the patience and tolerance necessary to allow our spouse the time and space necessary to grow, much as we need the same patience and tolerance. We need to have an attitude of encouragement.
Here’s a good example. Your husband has a pretty bad habit of leaving his socks on the floor. He takes his shoes and socks off, get undressed and jumps in the shower, leaving the socks on the floor. What, is he blind? He steps over them and then when you bring it up he says, “Oh right, I guess I forgot!” So here’s the plan. When he does remember, don’t say something like, “Well! Finally!” Instead, snuggle up to him, nibble a little on his ear lobe and whisper to him, “I am so proud of you. It makes me happy when you remember.” Then, just sit back and watch how often he remembers.
Next time we’ll look at the questions, “Why water often?”