Do you want to improve your marriage? Of course you do —if you didn’t you wouldn’t read the Marriage Messages we send out each week! But what about having a “World Class Marriage?” Have you thought about what it would take to have a marriage like that?
As Patty Howell from Worldclassmarriage.com says,
“To have what we call a World Class Marriage, you must start by realizing that true love and ‘chemistry’ are important and wonderful, but marriage is a skills-based relationship and your happiness as a couple is dependent upon those skills.”
Patty and her husband Ralph have been teaching couples all over the world how to succeed in their relationships by teaching them the skills they need. Even though their programs are secular, we think the suggestions they teach have a lot of validity to them.
Below are the “16 Pillars” they suggest which can help you to have a “World Class Marriage.” First pray before reading the list below and see if the Lord brings any of their suggestions to the forefront of your mind as ones that you could apply to your own marriage. Which of the Pillars do you need to apply most to your marriage? Ask the Lord to help you to follow through with them. Here are 16 Pillars to help your marriage (as written by Patty Howell):
• Set Goals: Goals help direct your energies and lead to success —both individual goals that are supported by your partner, and shared goals that you have as a couple.
• Avoid Blame: Blame is a relationship cancer-destroying love, caring, closeness, and everything you come in contact with. The same applies to self-blame!
• Understand the Nature of Behavior: Behavior is always goal-directed. When your partner does something that bugs you, he/she isn’t deliberately trying to upset you; he’s just trying to meet a need. Recognizing this helps you become more compassionate and back away from blame.
• Use Power Listening: Becoming good at this skill is the most important ingredient in fostering growth of your partner when dealing with a problem, and the growth of your relationship together.
• Giving up Tit for Tat: Retaliation just doesn’t work in an intimate relationship. When your partner disappoints, non-blameful confrontation maximizes cooperation and caring.
• Assume Self-Responsibility: Your spouse is only an “assistant need-meeter” in your life. You can minimize a lot of problems when you remember that you are your own primary need-meeter —about matters both large and small.
• Avoid Cool Talk: Sarcasm, cool and trendy language is fun when you see them on television, but they aren’t the stuff of marital closeness and caring.
• Change Behaviors, Not Your Partner: Confrontation through non-blameful language allows your partner the freedom to initiate change because of consideration for your needs. And it ups the chances of cooperation.
• Know When to Surrender: When you’ve tried confronting, or nagging, and nothing works —your partner still leaves clothes on the floor, consider looking for the capacity to accept it as so. [PLEASE NOTE: This does not pertain to abuse or infidelity issues.)
• Give Caring the Way that It Matters: Find out how to deliver your caring in the way that has the most meaning for your partner. Don’t spin your wheels with gifts if what your partner wants is loving words, time alone with you, a back-rub or some help with chores.
• Handle Hot Topic: Remember, what matters most in discussing any hot topic like sex, money, or childrearing, is keeping that “Heart to Heart Connection” between the two of you.
• Resolve Conflicts and Disagreement: Through Win-Win Problem Solving, both of you are happy with the way things work out and no resentment builds up in the relationship.
• Give Apology and Forgiveness: You have to be willing to admit you made a mistake which you regret —without trying to justify yourself. And when your partner apologizes, you have to be willing to let go and forgive.
• Grow Yourself: Expanding your capacities as a human being enriches your life and brings excitement to the relationship, while meanwhile taking pressure off of your partner.
• Forge a Bond: Engaging in “In-It Together” activities is one of the ways to strengthen the bond between the two of you.
• Nurture the Honeymoon: Recognize that your relationship needs and deserves TLC (tender loving care) so give yourselves regular doses of alone-together-having-fun times.
If you really want to keep your “Honeymoon” alive or maybe even revive it —keep in mind that marriage is a living picture of Christ’s love for the church. So strive to make your marriage a “World Class Marriage” —the best it can be —a TRUE reflection of the love of Christ! So what are at least three “pillars” you can do to nurture your marital relationship?
Steve and Cindy Wright