Live with Purpose
Love with Passion
Build a lifetime marriage, and become more in love than ever before.
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To build a great marriage, you need a vision for what you want, and a definite plan to get there. Some couples just wake up in the morning, get dressed, get the kids off to school, and start another day with no idea where their life or marriage is going.
Some wonder if their marriage will last, or even if they want to be married. Their relationship has become cold and distant, and they hurl words that could slice a rock.
But it does not have to be that way. Remember how it was when you were dating, or the early years when you could not wait to get home to be with the one you loved so much? You can have a workable plan that not only stops the loneliness, and hurting, but actually restores the love and passion you had for each other.
The relationship will not magically appear on it’s own. Don’t expect to continue in the old hurtful ways of interacting with each other.
The relationship will not change until you change!
You may think that it’s too late, and too much damage has been done. It’s my guess that both of you have said, and done things that you wish you had not said or done. Yes, it will take time, patience, and a train load of forgiveness, but you can do this. You must stop floundering and live with a solid plan agreed upon by both of you
Here are three things that you can do to put your Train Wreck back on track.
Become an Intentional Listener
There are two things that every person longs for.
- The need to be heard. Is it true that the person who vowed to love you is not listening when your heart is breaking?
- The need to be understood. It’s not hard to see that if your spouse does not listen, they are not likely to understand.
Of course we need to listen on a daily basis as we interact with each other. But this is different. We need to listen in such a way that we bring value to our spouse.
Be an intentional listener and an encourager. Choose a time and place of quietness, without children demanding your time, and yes, turn off the TV, cell phone and any other devices that could interrupt.
Guys, I suggest that you go first. Tell her in advance that you want some quiet time with her to just listen. She may be hesitant at first, but be patient with her, and assure her that you are not angry, and that you just want to listen. Make sure you are emotionally present and focused. Keep your eyes on her face, not the floor or ceiling.
Pre-plan your questions so that you will know exactly what to ask. Do not jump into an area of conflict that’s sure to arouse angry emotions. Start with something that will encourage and build her up. Thank her for spending her time with you. Compliment her on how she looks, or some other positive trait that she has. Be gentle and kind, even if she seems agitated. As she attempts to speak, give her time to process her emotions. Don’t be afraid of silence. As you practice these things, she will likely become more relaxed.
Under no circumstances are you to be manipulative, or cause her to think you want something in return. Do not offer advice, or try to fix her. Just listen, and remember what she has said, so that you can act on.
Remember, your primary goal is to instill value in her. Reach out to her, hold her hand. Physical touch can do wonders. It would probably be best to end your time together with a full body hug, and agree that you can have your turn later.
Okay girl, It’s your turn to Listen
You can basically follow the same format that your husband did with some exceptions. He needs to know that you love him, but that is not his greatest need. Compliment him on his work, and his efforts to provide for the family.
Build on his positive traits, and what you admire about him. Do not bring a list complaints, or ways you want him to change. Do not try to fix him.
Be an Intentional Helper
Whether you are aware of it or not, both of you are carrying a heavy load. Your crazy schedules and high stress levels will have a negative impact on both of you. This is one of the primary reasons you need to be intentional in your relationship. There must be mutual support to maintain a healthy marriage. The load just cannot be carried by one person.
Husbands, your wife is not a robot with unlimited energy. She cannot pole vault to the moon. If both of you work outside the home, she will be doing more than double duty. You may come home and feel that your work day is done, but you must understand, her work day is far from over. If you have small children, they will need attention from both of you. The evening meal must be prepared, the dishes and kitchen have to be cleaned, and the children bathed and ready for bed. After that, perhaps she can sit down with you for a while.
Husband Alert: I have heard from many sources that if you want more sex, help with the housework and children.
Cleaning the kitchen after the evening meal does not mean the house work is done. That means the general house cleaning, laundry, and other tasks will have to be done later in the evening or on the weekend. Other tasks that generally fall on a wife are grocery shopping, Parent/Teacher conferences, child medical/dental appointments, and other necessary errands. My guess is that as a husband you already know that she needs help, but for some reason, it has not really penetrated your brain. So guys, when you see something that needs to be done, just do it! Please don’t wait for her to ask. Don’t complain or procrastinate. Doing that just causes tension in the house. When you see what needs to be done, just do it.
Here is a personal comment: I often see a couple walking, she will have a big hunk of a baby on her hip and her back twisted out of shape. Her husband is walking 10 feet behind carrying a bag!!! That’s repulsive to me!
Wife Alert: Be aware, your husband will never load the dishwasher the way you want it. He may miss some spots when he vacuums, and it’s highly doubtful that he will ever be able to fold clothes right. But, do not go around behind him re-doing what he has done. Thank him for his efforts, not his performance. But, you must, however, warn him about the danger of mixing the white and colored laundry!
But what if she does not work outside the home? To be honest, I doubt if that changes anything. If she stays home with small children, and takes care of household duties, she will still be exhausted. In addition to the physical and emotional toll, there are some other things that she misses out on. One of the most important is interaction with other adults. Using child talk all day gets wearisome. Make sure that she has some quality time away from the house with no children to watch or care for.
Wives, as a writer and relationship coach, it’s easier to list the ways a husband can help his wife than it is to speak of how a wife can help her husband with physical work.
You need to know that if he works in physical labor, when he comes home, his whole body may ache. He may have little energy left, and will need some down time to relax and rest awhile. So, do not fuss if he sits down and watches TV for a few minutes. He might be employed in the corporate world, medical profession, sales, or other high stress areas. If so, he is likely to bring some of that home with him, and he will need some time to decompress. In any case, this is not a time to meet him at the door with a negative attitude, a list of things that need to be done, or present him with a handful of bills. What might be better would be a full body hug and a brief shoulder massage. The whole point in being an intentional helper is simple:
Watch for ways that you can intentionally help each other to cope with the pressures of life, raise your children, and live with love and peace.
Be an Intentional Builder
Let’s suppose you hire a contractor to build your dream home. After years of hard work and saving money, it’s finally going to happen. You are so excited! You drive by the building site every day or so just to see the progress. One day you drive by and all of the concrete foundation is down, and the walls are next. And then something weird happens. You cannot believe your eyes. The foundation is finished, and the first floor framework is almost completed. As you watch, your stomach goes into a major upset mode. He takes a large hammer and begins to destroy what he has just built.
What are you feeling at this point? You try to reason with the man, but he just gets angrier. Finally, he gets control of himself and says, “Okay, I was just having a bad day. I will do better. I will clean all this up and start over tomorrow.” You drive away confused, hurt, and angry. But, at least he promised to do better. Two days later you drive up to the house, and to your surprise, he is bashing the walls again. He is destroying what he built. Again, you run up to the house, and this time you have fire in your eyes. You are in no mood for any explanations or promises. You would really like to take the hammer and bounce it off of his head. This time he says, “I hate this house, it has been a problem since day one, and you are impossible to work with. I am done.” He gets his tools and leaves.
You sit on the floor in the midst of fallen pieces of lumber and just sob as you utter, “I cannot believe it.” So what does this story have to do with marriage? A few years ago you probably dreamed about the person you would meet, fall in love with, and make your life complete. After one or more disastrous failed relationships, you finally meet the man or woman that you have dreamed about for years. You think, “We were meant for each other and the love in this relationship will never end.” But after a few years, you are not as passionate as you were, and the relationship begins to feel strained.
The love you thought would last forever becomes cold and distant. But the worst part is yet to come. You begin to hurl a hammer of anger, harsh words, and threats of divorce. The person you first loved says, “I’m done! I quit. You are not the person I married.” The pain shoots through your heart like a jagged knife. It’s unbearable. What happened? How did two people who were once so passionate about each other become disconnected and adversarial?
All you have to do for your marriage to fail is nothing.
Life happens. Familiarity invades our relationships. Harsh words will be spoken. Some conflicts will go unresolved, and some hurts never heal. Resentment can dominate your mind and control your emotions. The negativity that came from your home of origin will seep right into your marriage. The hurts that you received from those past relationships will haunt your mind. Here is what really happened; something you probably never thought of. Your dream house of love was never built, and might not have even had a foundation. Worse yet, what little building you did do, might have already been torn down with the wicked hammer: harsh, cutting words, coldness, neglect, and carelessness.
But, what can be done to prevent the destruction of the wicked hammer? It’s simple, but not easy, and will not happen without effort. Both of you must become:
The process of building each other up is not a one-time event. It should begin with the wedding and continue throughout the entire marriage; through the good days and the not so good days. You don’t stop building just because you are angry or not in a good mood. You must be a builder even when you don’t really like your spouse. The feeling of being in love will come and go over the years, but never let those emotional feelings be a barometer for your caring and intentional building.
Practicing intentional love requires change, and that may not be easy. In fact, it may seem impossible.
In order to bring about change in your life, you will need to do a total makeover of your life patterns. Your behavioral habits is what drives the way you interact with your spouse, and many of those patterns were firmly in place long before the two of you first met. I know this is a huge challenge but you can do it.
Does this sound like something that might be too hard or require too much of you? Maybe so, but how much is your relationship worth to you? Would you be willing to change some self-destructive patterns to have a great marriage? So what does all of this mean, and what does it mean to be intentional with your love?
Here are just a few of the things that my wife and I do to build up and encourage each other on a daily basis.
Disclaimer: Neither of us want to leave the impression that we are two people who
always do things right. We struggle, too. We are two normal people who have accepted the challenge of building up and encouraging each other, even with our flaws.
Twelve things my wife says and does to build me up and bring value to my life:
- She constantly expresses gratefulness to me as her husband. I never feel that I’m taken for granted. This is huge.
- She compliments me on the things I do to make our lives better.
– “The yard looks good. You did a great job.”
– “I love how you re-did our bedroom.”
– “I love the fact that you are a wonderful father and have set good examples for our sons on how to treat their wives.”
- She works hard as an office manager for a doctor to help with our expenses.
- There is never a day goes by that she does not express her love for me.
- Her love for our family is far greater than I can express.
- She compliments my efforts without pointing out my negative traits.
- Her encouragement is never ending. She speaks words that make me feel good about myself, even when I fail or I’m down and depressed.
- She has never given me reason to doubt her faithfulness and moral integrity before or during our marriage.
- She instills confidence in me when I have to make difficult decisions.
- She is frugal when she shops for groceries or other family needs.
- She walks by my side during the good days and the bad days,
protecting, encouraging and building me up.
- She is my soulmate, my lover, my best friend, and the one in whom
I find Peace and rest.
Twelve things my wife says I do to bring encouragement and value to her life:
- He takes me right to the door of anyplace we go, and then brings the car to pick me up.
- He brings me breakfast at work every morning and makes sure I have lunch.
- He fills my car up with gas for me.
- I require medication for a medical condition, and he always makes sure I have what I need and am taken care of.
- He never complains about my messy craft room.
- He tells me how talented and smart I am and that nobody can play the piano like me.
- He comforts me when I’m down or having a bad day.
- He kisses me goodnight every night.
- He compliments me.
- He helps me with the housework.
- He brings me flowers and the best perfume.
- I can trust him completely.
Special Alert For Both Husband and Wife
You cannot be mean to your spouse to get them to be nice
to you !