We have certain patterns in our marriage we consistently work on. For instance, Christi loves to dream. For a long time, I (Josh) resisted dreaming with her. I thought everything she was dreaming up was something she expected to come true. So I shut her down. So many of her dreams were unrealistic to me. I like to be content with where we live, what we have, and how we’re living our lives.
But Christi, she needs to dream. It’s part of her DNA. What I had to learn about her—over the course of years—is that she’s not enamored with any of the dreams coming true; it’s the act of dreaming alone that energizes her. Though we’re getting better at dreaming together, I’m still a work in progress.
Aren’t we all? Maybe that’s why the New Year is so exciting—it’s a chance to start over. To lose weight. Eat better. Read our Bibles more. Establish new habits. Build a stronger marriage.
Say what? Okay, so the last one is rarely something we hear others say they plan to resolve in the New Year. But why is that?
Perhaps it’s found in the proverbial gap Christi and I have with dreaming together. Deep down, we all dream about how our lives and relationships could be better. Yet, we often think the dreams are unrealistic. If so few individuals can stick to a New Year’s resolution, what makes us think we could resolve something that requires two of us? So we dream (often alone), but never plan.
Resetting our marriage in 2017 requires us to dream. But if we want those dreams for our marriage to come true, we have to resolve—or “firmly decide”—a plan for making them happen.
That’s why we put together a list of five ways we can “reset” our marriage this year.
Before we discuss them, we know what some of you might be thinking, “But my spouse won’t dream with me, so what’s the use?”
Let us encourage you. You cannot and will not change your spouse. However, you can change how you interact with him, your attitude toward him, and how much you encourage him (1 Peter 3:1-4). All it takes to change the unhealthy rhythms of a marriage is for one person to change the music.
Here are five ways you can reset your marriage in 2017.
- Define what it means to “reset” your marriage. What the “reset button” looks like is different for each of us. Begin by rating where you feel your marriage is at right now. On a scale of one to ten—ten being it couldn’t get any better and one being it couldn’t get any worse—how would you rate your marriage? If your spouse is with you in this, ask her what her number is too. Write your numbers separately on a piece of paper and reveal them at the same time. Even the discrepancy in the number is a great place to begin.
If you’re at a five, write down what it will take to get to a seven by year’s end. Be realistic with your goals.
- Dream together. Setting a goal of where we are now and where we want to be is important. But for the sake of all that is good in the world, have fun dreaming together to get you where you want to be. Plan a get-away vacation just the two of you this year—without kids. We are! Even planning and dreaming about the get-away is an adventure in itself.
Find adventures you want to go on together—hiking, visiting local museums, learning a new hobby together, re-experiencing your first date, or taking a cooking class. Resolve to make memories.
- Date again. Relationally, the environment of our home ebbs and flows on how well we feel supported, appreciated, and loved by our spouse. Regular date nights are crucial to staying connected at a heart level—and having fun!
We also know how hard it can be to be creative and come up with date night ideas. That’s why we created 40 FREE date night ideas (using the themes play, laugh, dream and adventure) and 216 questions for you to prioritize date night. Start by clicking here.
- Resolve to change bad habits of communication. Another area of our marriage we’re working to resolve is how we communicate. One of us has a tendency to use a condescending tone of voice and the other is passive-aggressive—especially when we don’t feel like the other is pulling their weight.
Resolve this year to communicate about your communication. The key is using the Golden Rule of relationships, “In order to be understood, we must first understand.” Try to discover what’s going on underneath your spouse’s communication. In most cases, he/ she is feeling hurt, rejected, sad, or lonely. We all could do a better job of communicating our feelings without blaming our spouse.
- Put it all on paper. Resolutions fail because we think about doing them without putting them on paper. Your chances of resetting your marriage and moving it from a five to a seven this year increase dramatically when the dream becomes a plan on paper.
And by the way, keep it simple. Begin with one dream that brings joy to your marriage this year (Ecc. 9:9). That’s our prayer for you.