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The Relationship Café

New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

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! 


Print      Email to a Friend    posted on Tuesday, January 01, 2008 11:32 AM

Comments on this post

# RE: New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

I plan to pray for my spouse much more this year and to pray more specifically. I've realized recently that my nagging him to do something he needs to do (like eat healthier and exercise) does not produce good results. But if I say nothing to him and just pray for him in those areas, suddenly he starts saying things like, "I really want to eat healthier and lose weight." So this year I plan to pray a lot more for his well-being, be encouraging to him along the way, and leave the "prompting" to God. He knows better that I do what my husband needs anyway.
Left by yougotmail on Jan 02, 2008 10:37 AM

# RE: New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

Your note is a wonderful reminder of two important truths: Prayer is powerful, changing both the situation and the pray-er. Second, we have known for a long time that encouragement is a much more effective behavior changer than criticism.

What are some other Mini-Marriage Makeovers you're working on in this New Year?
Left by DrDavidHawkins on Jan 03, 2008 11:58 PM

# RE: New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

"Christie, I agree to say something encouraging to you every day." YES! Great post, Dr David! My blog is called Inspiration and Encouragement for the same reason you write your blog. We need more encouragers in our lives as we follow Jesus. I have your link on my blog because there's so much substantive content. I wish everyone a BLESSED New Year of new beginnings!
April Lorier
Left by pkauthor on Jan 04, 2008 11:34 PM

# RE: New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

my husband has been asking me what resolutions I will make this year. he has suggested that one important one should be that I will let him finish speaking, will not interrupt him. This is a very bad habit of mine. I also am learning that praying for my husband to change is so much better than nagging him and nit picking. So what if he does not do the housework the same way i do? at least he does lots of it. Happy New Year everyone
Left by anne_52 on Jan 05, 2008 5:40 PM

# RE: New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

Thank you for the encouragement April. I think we need to think more about this--eliminating discouragement and criticism from our vocabulary, and even when needing to say something concerning, we do it in a "wholesome" way. When we wrap our requests in encouraging words, our mate is much more likely to hear them.

Agreed? What helps your mate listen to you?

Left by DrDavidHawkins on Jan 06, 2008 4:00 PM

# RE: New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

This year i plan to stop using any provocative, sarcastic and argumentative comments when talking about touchy topics and i also plan to Stop a “downward spiral” argument in mid-track and shout “Do-Over,” starting again in a positive way.
Left by chasowa on Jan 18, 2008 8:40 AM

# RE: New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

We are all going to make mistakes in our relationships. What would happen if we sat down with our mate and said, "I'm going to make mistakes. When I do, I'd like you to gently remind me of how my behavior feels to you." Then, you add, "You are going to make mistakes, too. How would you like me to remind you when you make mistakes?" It is mandatory that you both smile and note that mistakes happen, and when they do, you'll handle them quickly, with humor when possible, and always ready to move forward.
What do think of this approach? Would you be willing to try it and report back to us?
Left by DrDavidHawkins on Jan 18, 2008 4:18 PM

# RE: New Year’s Mini-Marriage Makeover

Hi: there i could used some prayer my wife walk out on me. when she when on vacation dec. 8.2008 never came back. left me and my ailing 83 old father with out a car. i miss her very much. even thu what she has put me thu. i still Love very much. my prayers her with her everynight. i will never give .God is answome God. Please help thank you very much Luis Reyes
Left by modesto7 on Feb 08, 2008 4:38 PM