Do you need a marriage tune up to keep your marriage “running along fine?” Or maybe it’s doing okay, but you want more than just “okay” when it comes to your marriage relationship. It could be that you need a complete overhaul to get your relationship to the place where you are in tune with each other, where you feel connected. Sometimes marriages, just like automobiles, need a marriage tune up. Here’s a thought and question written by psychologist Michael Lace to consider:
“Couples generally enter marriage with engines revving, but sooner or later find their relationship ‘idling.’ The thrill is gone, arguments easily become overheated, and the pressure of jobs, children and a mortgage is on. What causes this once smooth-running machine to knock and sputter?”
That’s a good question to consider. Here’s one theory:
“Too often we put ourselves in cruise control, and this tendency, more than major problems, keeps us apart. When we’re in cruise control, we don’t actively seek to meet one another’s needs or communicate our own needs. Slowly, unknowingly, we drift in different directions.” (Tricia Goyer, from the Focusonthefamily.ca article, “How to Give your Marriage a Regular Check-up”)
Do You Need a Marriage Tune Up?
Have you been there? Are you there? We sure have been. And we’re guessing that you sometimes fall into this same “cruise control” trap, as well. It’s an easy tendency to fall into. We’re so busy trying to make life work for us, we forget the most important part in all of this… US! If we aren’t well connected with each other, our whole marriage falls apart. It’s a matter of not forgetting the most important things, putting them first, and going from there.
So, here are a few tips (with links to read more) to get you started on doing a marriage tune up:
• Watch the Gauges
“The need to assess our marriage shouldn’t come as a surprise. We check our car’s oil and change it regularly. We watch the fuel gauge to ensure we have enough gas. Also, we take note when the engine starts to whine, which might signal a problem. Just as we monitor and maintain our cars, we need to “watch the gauges” of our marriage if we want to keep it running smoothly.” (Tricia Goyer)
How do you “Watch the gauges?” There are many different ways. The following are 3 that are suggested by Tricia Goyer. They’re actually 3 that we have successfully used ourselves at different times in our marriage. They are: – Listen to your spouse – Pay attention to the silence – Ask Questions. To learn more on what you need to do to get your marriage going healthy and strong again, read the Focusonthefamily.ca article:
• HOW TO GIVE YOUR MARRIAGE A REGULAR CHECK UP
Here’s another marriage tune up tip:
• Read Your Owners Manual
“Read your owner’s manual (the Bible) to get an idea of what applications your relationship needs. To perform critical maintenance services review and follow these important maintenance guidelines: 1 Peter 3:7 and Ephesians 5:24-31. Assess the general condition of your marriage to spot problems.” (Roy M. Milam from the Marriageministry.org article, “Does Your Marriage Need a Tune-Up?”)
To help you further with this marriage tune up, we have several scriptural tips that come straight from your owner’s manual—the Bible. We suggest you take the time together to prayerfully read, talk through and apply what God teaches you that will help you in your marriage relationship:
• COMMUNICATION SCRIPTURES FOR YOUR MARRIAGE
• SCRIPTURES FOR MARRIAGE TO BRING YOU CLOSER
• MONEY SCRIPTURES AND MARRIAGE
• Don’t Wait to Repair or It Could Lead to a Bigger Problem Later.
Just as it is with maintaining a car, the same principle pertains to tending to our hurts sooner, rather than later.
“Don’t let feelings fester. Find the time and energy to resolve disagreements, even if it requires a ‘late-nighter.’ Long-term resentments can use up more energy than a few hours of wrestling through a problem.” (Michael Lace, from the Todayschristianwoman.com article, “Does your Marriage Need a Tune Up?”)
This is something that we especially struggled with earlier in our marriage. We’ve learned a few things along the way that has helped us GREATLY to treat each other more like marriage partners, rather than opponents.
The articles that could help you with this marriage tune up are:
• IT’S NOT IF YOU FIGHT BUT HOW YOU FIGHT
• KEEP SHORT ACCOUNTS ON GRIEVANCES
“Hurts must be attended to promptly. When we injure our mate, or are injured by our mate, we must attend to each other. We must immediately acknowledge the wound we have caused, or the wound we feel. Repairs are best made immediately with a sincere apology and taking responsibility for wrongdoing.” (Dr. David B. Hawkins, from the Crosswalk.com article, “Marriage Maintenance”)
Here is an article that can help you do to just that as you make the necessary marriage tune up adjustments:
• APOLOGIES THAT MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE
• Change Your Oil Regularly
“We all know that cars need regular oil changes. It’s needed every 3,000 – 5,000 miles depending on your particular automobile. Today I’m in Lansing because an indicator light came on which I had never seen before. …When I looked it up in the owners manual, all it said was see your local dealer as soon as possible. Apparently when a car hits 60,000 miles it needs more than an oil change. It needs a tune up!
“In marriage going out on a date is like that oil change…we recommend once a week to keep things running smooth. Getting away for a weekend alone together is like a tune-up…we recommend once every six months keeps you both ‘in tune.’ Your marriage doesn’t have an indicator light, but you do have a calendar. Get those dates and weekend getaways on your calendar today!” (Jay Lafoon, from the Jayandlaura.com article, “An Oil Change and a Marriage Tune-up Please!)
Below are a variety suggestions for different date night (or date day) ideas. You can pick one for yourself and see how it goes. And then there are lots of ideas left for other times:
• Schedule ongoing maintenance
“It is essential to establish an ongoing maintenance plan for a strong marriage. If you never got tune-ups for your car, your time, energy and money would be drained for relentless repairs. It would slowly deteriorate and just take up space. Likewise, not being preventative with the direction of your marriage sets the stage for dissatisfaction and complacency, and possibly resentment. Make it a priority to schedule regular time to focus on just the two of you. Then when major challenges arise, you will be more prepared to deal with them and get back on track.” (From the Centerstone.org article, “How to Tune Up Your Marriage!”)
A good place to start in maintaining a good marriage is to pray for God to work on your own heart. Pray as the psalmist said:
“Search me O God and know my heart. Test me, and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
And then pray for your spouse. Pray that that God will open his or her eyes to see the need to partner with you in this marital tuning up process.
For the benefit of the covenant you entered into when you married, don’t stall or put it off any longer. Do a marriage tune up. Today can be a new beginning for your marital relationship!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
We give you so much more on this issue and more in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself (It’s available both electronically and in print form). Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:
If you are not a subscriber to the Marriage Insights, which are emailed out weekly
and you would like to receive them directly, please click onto the following:
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Grow Your Marriage Marriage Insights
3 responses to “Need a Marriage Tune Up?”
Thank you for your website. My wife and I have worked together for 36 years and have been faithfully married for 28 years. We are at a crossroads in our personal and marital relationship. I am 68 years old. My wife is 65. Both of us have had to work since we were teenagers. We had built a very successful business and are financially secure.
Now the tough part. After leaving practice for three years following a motor vehicle accident that required three surgeries, I have returned to active practice treating patients with pain management issues. My wife was very supportive in my decision a year ago. What started out as a three day a week part time practice has developed into a 24/7×7 fantastic professional experience for me but not for her.
As we began to live separate lives, problems began which escalated into issues and then changed into arguments and ended up with my leaving our home one week ago.
We have continued to speak to each other on the phone and in e-mails cordially and with respect. After six days apart, we had dinner yesterday. We sat together for over three hours. We had previously agreed that we would not discuss any issues that we both considered extremely serious. Our concentration and discussion was on all of the things that were good and enhancing to our marriage of 28 years. We expressed our love and admiration for each other, and a desire to work towards a mutual solution to restore our relationship that has existed for 36 years.
Acknowledging the need for some unbiased professional counseling, we agreed that our position is not when or if we can restore our relationship and marriage, but rather what should we do as we are restoring our relationship together.
I googled “marriage tuneup” this morning and found your site. Yesterday, my wife asked me to research this type of a solution for us. When I speak to her today, I will be asking her to come to this site with me at the same time. Are there specific suggestions that you can offer to us? I’m sure that this is not your “first rodeo” with couples like us. Thank you for any assistance that you can offer. -Skip
Skip, it’s so good to read that you both have decided you WILL restore your relationship together –not when or if, but that what you’re to do “AS” you’re restoring it. That’s such a great first step. When a couple is determined to find a solution, they will. Intentionality and determination is a huge part of what it takes to make things good again, perhaps better than ever.
As far as how you’re to do this, I have to say that it’s different for everyone. That which caused this break in your marriage is different from what causes breaks in other marriages. I have a few suggestions though, that might help. The first thing I recommend is that you pray together –join hands and pray for guidance. The Holy Spirit is called “Our Wonderful Counselor” so take Him up on that. Allow Him to guide you. And then you go on the search for what you can learn that will help your marriage. It’s a matter of gleaning. In other words, as you seek what will help you to bridge and work through your differences, you will come across a lot of info –some of it will work for you and some of it won’t. Determine together what you can use that will work and toss out the rest. It’s not a “one size fits all” situation.
You can go into the “Save My Marriage” topic of this web site and look through the quotes and articles we make available. Determine if your marriage is in a “crisis.” You can read about that. If, after looking through a few things, you determine that this is a time of crisis, then read accordingly and glean through the advice to apply. Determine this TOGETHER (listen to each other on this –if one spouse believes it’s a crisis, then it is –your partnership is in crisis). If you agree this isn’t as much of a crisis as it is a fork in the road, then look together through the articles and other topics that are appropriate for what you’re dealing with.
I’m reminded of a statement that John Gottman, an internationally known marriage expert, gave in “confronting sticky marital issues.” He said, “The issue isn’t whether you fight, it’s how you fight and how rich your stockpile of good feelings is about each other to weather difficulties and keep your basic attitude toward your partner positive.” (You can read more about this statement in the article, It’s Not IF You Fight But HOW You Fight That’s Important). In other words, you’re on the right track when you determine that you’re going to approach your differences in respectful ways. It’s not the conflict that can kill a marriage, but the disrespectful way –the contempt that can creep in that will kill it. If you need help with that, perhaps some guidelines and/or communication tools, etc… you can find them in the “Communication and Conflict” topic and the “Communication Tools” topic. If, in addition, you need a marriage counselor make sure you find a “Marriage Friendly” one. You can read about that in the “Marriage Counseling” topic. You don’t just want a counselor who is totally impartial –because that can get you stuck looking at huge differences. You want one that can help you to bring your problems out in the open but along the way will give you the tools you need to resolve them. Again, read up on what the “marriage-friendly” approach is, in counseling.
Also, as John Gottman pointed out, you need to keep stockpiling “good feelings” about each other. Too many couples neglect this aspect of marriage. We have a “Romantic Ideas” topic, which we continually add to, which could give you a few ideas. And another great topic to explore, which might especially help you is the “Marriage Enrichment” topic. We have articles to read and marriage seminars that we recommend in the “Links” part of that topic. And use some of the advice in this article.
Skip, I may be wrong but I believe your wife needs to know that you will invest in your relationship. This is a time of life where a lot of sacrifices have been made on both of your parts to make life “work” and she may want to know that this next stage of your life together isn’t a continual repeat of what was, but rather, what it can be together. It’s great what you’re doing, as far as investing in the lives of others who need pain management. But I’m thinking your wife has a different type of pain going on –that of missing her husband and wanting him to invest time in being more of a “we” through the rest of your lives together (you can read about that in this week’s marriage message, When the “WE” Breaks Apart. I have a feeling that your car accident caused some feelings to stir up in your wife where she realizes how fleeting life, here on earth is, and she wants to spend more time together in partnership. Talk to her about this and truly listen. And if I’m right, spend time together figuring out what you can do, as far as adjusting your schedule (perhaps cutting your hours back and taking some vacations together and such) so you’re doing things as individuals AND as a couple. The “vacations” can even include missions trips you take together, and/or going to marriage retreats so you grow closer together and such. There are two marriage retreats I especially recommend that are both funny, as well as enriching, “Love and Respect” with Emerson Eggerichs and “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage” with Mark Gungor. They’re both fun AND informational, and can bring up a lot of great conversation (as well as laughs) together. You can read about them in the Links in “Marriage Enrichment.”
Don’t forget to dream together and insert laughter into different times you’re together. Both are important. Too often couples get so involved in everything that’s going on in their lives that they forget to dream together. My husband Steve and I did this and it’s part of the reason that Marriage Missions developed. We decided that TOGETHER we wanted to invest in the lives of other marriages that needed a good foundation (like we wish we would have built in the beginning of our marriage) and invest in marriages that need a boost, and marriages that need a bit more help. We started mentoring a few couples here and there and it grew into this. It’s a ministry we do together. We love it. We never thought it would grow as it has, but each step of the way, we’ve been in agreement to go with the growth. We also invest in the lives of our children and grandchildren and such. What you and your wife do side-by-side may look entirely different, but the important thing is to dream together, invest time together, and laugh together along the way. I hope this helps.
God bless you for the good work. The comments of Mr. Skip and your response are lessons personally for me in my relationship with my spouse. We have been married 13 years and blessed with 3 lovely children. Our marriage needs tuning up and I pray the Holy Spirit helps my wife and I take the right steps to achieve that.
We have had quite a lot of issues arising from our different approaches, attitudes and pursuits. However we have come this far majorly because we are able to remember individually that God wills for us to honour him in and with our marriage. Presently, I am separated from my family by location due to work transfer but I am desirous of rejoining them soon, hoping that will enable me work more and better with my wife on improving our marriage relationship. Please remember us in your prayers. Regards to your darling husband and partner, Steve. Thank you.