It’s possible to improve your marriage and make it stronger with three simple daily steps.
Step #1 – Prayer
As a couple, prayer is an absolute necessity to have active in your marriage. I am constantly amazed when couples state that the last time they really prayed together was years ago. Usually that rationale goes something like this, “we both pray, just not together.” Praying together is an active way to have the Lord be a part of building your marriage.
I want to talk to the men for a moment here. Men, it is your job like it or not to lead your wife spiritually and pray. I don’t care if your IQ is 4 and your wife’s IQ is 150, it is still your job to pray.
PRAYER IS YOUR JOB. LIKE IT, lump it, gripe about it, but get it done. You serve a holy God and He will hold you accountable for your return on His investment of the precious talent—His daughter—given to you.
Step #2 – Feelings
Emotional intimacy is a second very important aspect that a couple needs to develop and maintain throughout their relationship. Often early in the dating relationship and marriage we share feelings readily about our life situations, people, God and about our future spouse. Many of us don’t know what happens to our feelings when we get married but for many couples they go into hiding. Life gets more complicated and our conversations seem to get more managerial as far as getting this or that done.
Emotions are an important part of who your spouse is. As humans we all come with many feelings as standard equipment from our maker. That’s not the problem many of us have then. The problem is the skill to express them that is the limitation most couples face. I know I was an emotional illiterate when I was married. I had lots of feelings but no skills at identifying or communicating them to my beautiful bride, Lisa.
This lack of skill is one of the largest hindrances for a couple to start or maintain intimacy. That is why the feelings exercise is critical. Now, I do want to warn you that this is an exercise, and therefore it does require some effort to get a degree of mastery.
The feelings exercise is relatively simple. You pick a feeling from the feelings list (you can get this list by emailing us here:email@example.com). Then you place the feeling in the following sentences.
I feel _________________ when ________________.
I first remember feeling _______________ when _________________.
Let me give you two examples:
I think you can get the idea. In the first sentence you place whatever feeling you choose and give a present tense example of the feeling. In the second sentence you place an early experience usually in childhood or adolescence.
The guidelines to the feelings exercises:
Step #3 – Praise
You are the primary voice in your spouse’s life. A silent voice is the cruelest thing you can do to your spouse. The spouse who hears neither bad nor good from their spouse whom they committed their life to, and helped raise the children, grows hollow inside.
If we are to be like our Father in heaven, which needs to be our goal as Christians, then nurturing and praising others will be part of His nature through us. Now again I realize better than most that praise or nurturing is not something that all of us grew up with.
Praise and nurturing one another is an essential ingredient for a vibrant ongoing intimate relationship. In the next 100 days of practicing praise and nurturing, you will eventually get skilled and comfortable. For some spouses, the giving of praise is not difficult, but receiving or acknowledging praise is. For others, both are difficult.
Praise, both giving and receiving, is a skill. Skills can be learned by anyone. As you daily practice the praise exercise, you and your spouse will experience the oil of intimacy drip unto your soul and heal areas of dryness that you didn’t even know existed.
The specifics of this exercise are very similar to the feelings exercise. First you both individually think of two things that you love, appreciate or value about the other person.
That is the nurturing or praise exercise. It may look simple but for some, for others it is work. All I can tell you is that this exercise is sweet. When combined with the other two daily exercises, it can make a profound shift for intimacy with your spouse.
I know these exercises will take time and work. The work part gets easier, even after about 10 days or so. I suggest for the next 100 days, you allow this structure and skills to give to your marriage what they have blessed those who have implemented them over the years.
While researching this topic, if any questions come up, we are here to answer any questions. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com, by phone at 719–278–3708 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Douglas Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the author of several books including, Servant Marriage, The 5 Sex Languages, Sex, Men and God, Intimacy; and his latest, Worthy: Exercise and Step Book.