Most couples I encounter in my counseling office have dreams of how wonderful their marriage would be if only … The if only statements almost always focus on things they wish their spouse would change:
- I wish she would get rid of some junk.
- I wish he'd help me keep the house cleaner.
- I wish she wouldn't worry so much.
- I wish he'd plan date nights once or twice a month.
- I wish she'd stop being so critical.
- I wish he would express appreciation for what I do.
- I wish she would stop criticizing me in front of our children.
- I wish he would put things away when he finishes a project.
My guess is you also have a wish list. The good news is that many of your wishes can come true. Try these three steps and see if your spouse becomes more responsive to your desires.
Step 1: Look at yourself
The first step may be the most difficult because it begins with you. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that we are first to "take the plank out of our own eye."
Identifying your past failures in the marriage and being willing to confess these to your spouse is the first step to making your wishes come true. The wife who is willing to say to her husband, "I realize I've been spending too much time with my mother and not enough time with you. I feel badly about that, and I'd like to ask you to forgive me. I want to make that different in the future" is on the road to seeing her wishes become reality.
Your willingness to deal with past failures communicates to your spouse that you are serious and want to improve your marriage. By nature we tend to wait for our spouse to take the initiative. But how about you taking the initiative? Even if you feel your failures are minimal, dealing with them creates an atmosphere of growth.1