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7 Tips for Being a Better Spouse

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Start now to keep your marriage happy and healthy. It begins with you.

If you’re married, your marriage is one of the most important relationships in your life. The success of your marriage will likely dictate how things are going in every area of your life, and the satisfaction you feel from that relationship will likely influence the satisfaction you feel with your life as a whole.

To have a stronger marriage, you must be a better spouse. Instead of trying to change your spouse, change yourself. There is no greater act of persuasion than a living example of someone who has taken the first step.

Improving yourself as a spouse is not complicated. My list below is for inspiration, but you could likely come up with a similar list yourself. The question is, “How badly do you want it?” Are you willing to make the investment because you see that the returns are high? If so, you’ll have no problem making it happen. You must believe that your marriage is worth it and that real change is possible.

Once you’ve solidified that belief, it’s a matter of coming up with a game plan, executing it every day, and reviewing your progress from time to time.

Here are 7 tips that I am working on myself to become a better husband to my wife, Mollie:

1. Be curious about your spouse’s inner life

Just like you, your spouse has dreams and fears about the future, things that delight them, and a constant stream of thoughts. By showing an interest in this part of them, you express a desire to know the deepest version of themselves.

2. Find ways to have fun together

Friendships are often forged over shared interests, hobbies, and pastimes, but these can be crowded out of even the best marriages as other activities compete for our time. By associating your time together with enjoyable pursuits, you will more genuinely come to see each other as a source of pleasure and delight.

3. Share common goals and pursuits

If you aren’t growing closer together, then you are growing apart. I know of no better way to strengthen a relationship than to pursue a common dream or difficult accomplishment. This will infuse a sense of adventure and camaraderie into your marriage and a sense that you are two companions taking on the world together.

4. Create a warm, happy home life

Affection, in its many forms, is the bedrock of a healthy marriage. It is one thing to treat each other respectfully and have a productive partnership, but a loving marriage is built upon a mutual fondness for each other. You can cultivate these pleasant feelings in many ways, including physical touch, warm looks, shared smiles, and other small gestures that show you don’t just love the other person—you like them a lot.

5. Offer words to build them up

When you grow close and comfortable with a person, as you inevitably will with your spouse, it’s common to let your guard down with your words. You are more likely to say exactly what comes to mind or offer more feedback and criticism than you would with a stranger or a friend you don’t see very often.

The way to combat this familiarity is to intentionally offer words to encourage your spouse, point out their strengths, and shower them with genuine gratitude for the ordinary ways they make your life better.

6. Look for ways to lighten their load

Sharing life together as a married couple means wanting the very best for your spouse. While that comes with many benefits, it also means dividing the weight of responsibilities so that no spouse gets weighed down. One rule of thumb I have for myself is not to rest in the evening until I know my wife is able to rest too. There are exceptions, of course, but in a selfless marriage, the giving goes both ways.

7. Be quick to forgive and move past bad moods

One hurdle of spending so much time together and living under the same roof is that you can’t easily hide your bad moods or frustrations the way you could with a more casual friend. In my mind, a great spouse tries their hardest to avoid self-pity and wallowing in a bad mood. Instead, learn to talk about it and find healthy ways of processing these emotions without pulling down your spouse.

Investment Stokes the Fire of Love

Becoming a better spouse won’t happen overnight. Like any habit, it takes time for these choices to become sincere and automatic. I often find that the more I’m investing in my marriage, the more love and affection I feel toward my wife. We have a funny way of going along with what our hearts and minds tell us is valuable.

Therefore, I would encourage any married person, or any person with a close friend, to begin taking these actions even before they feel like they need to. The feelings will follow your actions.

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