Marriage is meant to keep people together, not just when things are good but mainly when not. That’s why we take marriage vows, not wishes.John Thurman
We celebrate forty-nine years of marriage this month. In that time, we have had multiple experiences with all the seasons of a marriage. We have experienced some incredible summers. We have also endured and persevered through some long, dry, cold winters. For many couples, the covid captivity has been a long, cruel winter. For others, it has been the adventure of a lifetime.
Are you ready to have a more rewarding and resilient marriage? Keep reading!
What season are you in right now?
Dr. Gary Chapman does a fantastic job of identifying these in his book The 4 Seasons of Marriage.
Here is his summary of the 4 Seasons:
“Spring, summer, winter, fall. Marriages are perpetually in a state of transition, continually moving from one season to another—perhaps not annually, as in nature, but just as certainly and consistently. Sometimes we find ourselves in winter—discouraged, detached, and dissatisfied; other times, we experience springtime with openness, hope, and anticipation. On other occasions, we bask in the warmth of summer—comfortable, relaxed, enjoying life. And then comes fall with its uncertainty, negligence, and apprehension. The cycle repeats itself many times throughout the life of a marriage, just as the seasons repeat themselves in nature.
The seasons of marriage come and go. Each one holds the potential for emotional health and happiness, and each one has its challenges. The purpose of this book is to describe these recurring seasons of marriage, help you and your spouse identify which season your wedding is in, and show you how to enhance your marriage in all four seasons.”[i]
If you are stuck in one of the less productive seasons, you don’t have to stay there. Hope is around the corner! As you read this article, see if there are a couple of the 4 Proven Ways to Enrich Your Marriage that you might begin using.
Before we jump into the Four Proven Ways to Enrich Your Marriage, let’s look at an old piece of relationship literature.
It is in the New Testament book of Ephesians 4:31-32. NLT
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
With this principle in mind, here are the four things you can do to enrich in your marriage.
Now for the other Four Proven Ways to Enrich Your Marriage
- Demonstrate Empathy – So often, you hear the word empathy and sympathy used in the same phrase, but the meaning of each word are light years apart.
Empathy is woven deep into the fabric of Scripture. Virtually every instruction God offers regarding the way we’re to treat others begins with empathy.
Two scripture passages beautifully sum the importance of this:
Romans 12:15 (NLT) Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.
Hebrews 4:15 (MSG) We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin.
Dr. Brene’ Brown explains the difference: “Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.
This video link is one of the best demonstrations of the difference between these two words. So, take three minutes out of your life and give it a look.
Here are three do’s and three don’t regarding empathy.
• Try to understand their perspective
• Actively ask questions
• Be present and attentive when your spouse needs you
• Stay out of the judgment zone
• Answer before you have heard and understood
• Say, “I know what you mean.”
2. Catch your partner doing the right things. I know, this is a big one for us. In the early days of quarantine, we tended to get on each other’s nerves because we were together 24/7 for weeks. Even after nearly 50 years, we both have some habits that tend to annoy each other. So, it is vital to resist the temptation to point out the negative and catch them doing something right.
3. Express love – This is a place to be liberal! Let your partner know that you find them beautiful, handsome, caring. Be bold and call out what you love about your partner, not just what they are doing. Hint – you might want to check out the free love languages test link.
4. Timeouts work for adults. In my practice, I’ve had scores of couples tell me that their arguments are more intense than they used to be, and their stress has been higher than before due to Covid. “Ask your partner to give you 30 minutes so you can calm down. Go to a different place and don’t think about the fight. Don’t think about your rebuttal. Don’t even pray for an answer. Instead, do something distracting. Maybe read a book, listen to some music, or your favorite podcast. Take a few moments to catch your breath and recalibrate. This practice is one way your body can calm down where you are no longer in a “fight or flight” mode. This way, you can return to the conversation more relaxed and hopefully have some resolution.
So, what do you need to do today to enhance your relationship?
What are you going to do today to “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another?
Which of the 4 Proven Ways can you begin doing today?
Do you need some relationship coaching? I provide both in-person and virtual coaching and counseling.
No matter where you live in the U.S., you can reach out, and we can set up a free telephonic consultation. My private office number is 505-343-2011; if I cannot answer, leave a message, and I will get back to you within 24 hours. You can also go to www.johnthurman.info and contact me through the contact form or chat box (I check it daily).
Would you like a free copy of my ebook 21 Ways to Improve Your Marriage? If so, text the word 21ways to 33777.
Thanks, and God Bless.
[i] Chapman, The 4 Seasons of a Marriage