Preparing for out of town family and friends, my wife, Christie and I are cleaning house. We’re not only cleaning house, we’re dunging the place out.
You know the routine. With the diligence and determination of a heart surgeon, we looked at the house and in unison said, “We’re going in.” What that meant was we were going to clean the cobwebs out of the corners, throw out magazines from 2005, open or discard old mail and vacuum. Really, really vacuum.
The holidays, and especially the New Year, are great times to reconsider how much stuff we want to collect and how much we want to discard. It can also be a great time to consider our marriage, and vow to do things just a little differently. We can decide, again, if we really want to keep doing things the way we have been.
During the process of cleaning, Christie and I looked at one another and asked, “Do we really want to hang onto this old newspaper clipping?” Or, “Do we really want to keep subscribing to The Ladies Home Journal?” Or, “Do you think we’ve got enough books on these bookshelves?”
This mindset is freeing, unburdening ourselves from “old stuff.” The same freedom can apply to our marriage as well.
My wife and I routinely sit down with one another and ask the same kinds of questions. For example, just this morning, when I was in a nit-picky frame of mind, and asked my wife, Christie, to quit leaving dirty rags in the kitchen sink.
She looked at me and asked, “Is this issue really that important?”
I paused and reflected on her question. Was the nit-picky issue I had raised really that important? Her question gave me a moment to consider my response. Was the rag in the sink really that important? Was it important enough for me to comment, or was it better to simply remove the rag myself?
One simple question—one moment to reflect upon my answer.
I decided it wasn’t really that important. At another time, in another situation, I might answer differently. But, this time, it really wasn’t that important.
What if we asked that question before we said anything critical of our mate? What if we chose one simple tool to practice in the New Year that would help our marriage? Call it a Mini-Marriage Makeover.
Let me help you in this endeavor. Here are a few ideas to choose from. Grab your mate and take a look at the list, deciding to practice, and master, one new Mini-Marriage Makeover strategy in the New Year.
1. Stop yourself from using any provocative, sarcastic and argumentative comments when talking about touchy topics.
2. Notice things about your mate to encourage—and do it.
3. Keep conflicts to ten minutes or less. Call “Time Out” if they start to go longer.
4. Read a book together.
5. Choose carefully whether something critical is worth sharing or not. Bite your tongue more often.
6. Smile at your mate.
7. Stop a “downward spiral” argument in mid-track and shout “Do-Over,” starting again in a positive way.
8. Worship weekly together in church. Hold hands when you pray.
9. Sit down every night for every dinner, even if it’s Mac and Cheese.
10. Go out on a special “date” once a week.
Now, if you want to perform even deeper “cleaning,” venturing into the More-Than-Mini-Marriage Makeover arena, sit down with your mate and agree upon one thing—possibly from the list above—which you will remove from your marriage, and one thing you will add. Agree together that you will focus on adding, and subtracting, this new behavior and are willing to be held accountable for doing so.
Okay, I’ll bravely lead the way. Here goes:
Christie, I agree to say something encouraging to you every day. I also agree to do something every day to help keep our house clean.
Now it’s your turn. Write in and tell us what small change you’re willing to make to improve your marriage in the New Year. Remember, every small step can make a monumental impact. God bless!