Do you have a marriage plan, “wing it,” or follow marriage tips? Marriage coaches, counselors, and therapists all teach proven marriage plans that work. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t take the time to develop our own marriage plan. In this part 1 of a 2-part series, I will explore the two most common ways married couples operate. In the next part I will offer a proven marriage plan I recommend and use in my marriage coaching.
Marriage and Life Intertwined
The early years of marriage is such a beautiful thing. Our heart pitter-patters at the very thought of our loved one. We are explorers in all things that have to do with our partner. We do anything and everything that will make our spouse happy. We give back rubs. We talk. We give little gifts. We do chores. We spend quality time together. We dream. We have mind-blowing sex. It is all so natural and fulfilling. The essence of who we are connects deeply with our loved one. We can share our deepest secrets. We can be who we are without fear.
Unfortunately, it rarely lasts. As time goes on, we tend to relax. We take one another for granted. We change. Familiarity leads to complacency. Trouble begins.
Marital trouble is horrible and so absorbing of energies. We do and say things we haven’t before. We feel compelled to defend our actions. We fear a loss when our needs are not met. We often retaliate. So many things start to bug us.
- He doesn’t do one of his chores. It bugs us.
- She leaves the lights on at night. It bugs us.
- She starts nagging. It bugs us.
- He wants sex all the time. It bugs us.
- He forgets to do the little things he once did. It bugs us.
- She spends all her time with the kids. It bugs us.
- He spends too much time with his friends playing games. It bugs us.
- She spends too much money. It bugs us.
Countless little things begin to bug us. She become a little snarky. He says insensitive things. If they’re going to do that, I’m going to do this. Sometimes the littlest of things blows up into a full scale argument. We start to feel disconnected. We don’t know who are partner is anymore. We start to live separate lives. We try to put on a good face in public, but at home, the conflict is high. We wonder if the marriage will last. She tells her friends about the stupid things he’s done recently. He complains about her to his friends at the bar.
Our marriage is our life. From the moment we wake up in the morning to the moment we fall asleep at night, our lives are so deeply intertwined with our spouse. Life and marriage cannot be separated. Our marriage consumes our thoughts and actions. Marriage and life. Intertwined.
Without a Marriage Plan, We Plan to Fail
It is cliche, but it is worth repeating. Life coaches have told us throughout the years that if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. It applies to our lives and it applies to our marriage. Why should it be any different when the two are so intertwined?
Just like doing a budget, it is incredibly easy to do, but many of us don’t do it. It’s one of those things that successful people do that unsuccessful people won’t do. Life coaches tell us of many things we need to do in order to be successful. So many of us still don’t do them. Why?
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We want to be free to do what we want to do, but without the consequences. That is the internal struggle that plagues all of us. We want to eat pizza, chocolate, and fast food, and stay slim. We want to play games and watch TV all night long, and be rich. We want to go shopping and buy the latest fashions, and have plenty in the bank afterwards. We want quick fixes that don’t hurt or cost a lot. We want convenience. We want security. We want to have fun. We feel we deserve it. We feel we are entitled to it.
There are so many things we want but are not willing to do what it takes, what is necessary, to achieve it. Those who are successful in life and in their marriages have developed habits and disciplines that result in success. It’s not hard to understand, but it is hard to do. It is the internal battle we must face. We must decide and follow through on those decisions. Those who do, will succeed. Those who don’t try alternatives.
For those who do not follow a proven marriage plan, often try two alternatives – winging it, or following a myriad of marriage tips.
They call it being spontaneous. They wear it like a badge of honor. So many try to be different or free-spirited that they are adverse to anything that follows societal norms. If the “establishment” recommends it, they are against it. These are the folks that have been called rebels. They represent an extreme. Many others are not part of this extreme, but they just follow their own path. They do their own thing which may or may not be part of a societal norm. Others yet may know what works, but simply choose not to do it, either because of laziness or indecision.
It really doesn’t matter the reason, but those who just wing-it rarely come out on top.
Winging it doesn’t follow any plan. Whatever feels right or what one wants to do at the moment is what they will do. Right or wrong, that’s what they will do. In life, winging it will often yield a mixture of results, good and bad.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when winging it and being spontaneous is a great thing to do. At a specific time or moment, it works, but not as a life or marriage strategy.
Winging it in a marriage usually means the couple follows their emotions rather than any recommendation or strategy. Because there is nothing substantial behind why they are doing the things they do, they will likely experience the full range of results. There will be no pattern or direction to their actions. Those who wing-it are not following research, books, coaches, or any proven plan.
Winging it is not a proven path to a happy marriage.
For those who do not plan, and do not just wing it, may try to do some research and find marriage tips online. The internet is loaded with free information. That free information often leads to information overload, and the main reason why following marriage tips rarely, if ever, work. A quick Google search on marriage tips shows 120,000,000 results, and these are some of the titles:
- The 50 Best Marriage Tips Of All Time
- The 9 Smartest Marriage Tips Ever
- Daily Marriage Tip
- 5 Cynical Marriage Tips every Couple Needs to Learn
- 7 Tips and Tricks for Making Your Marriage Last
They sound so good, don’t they? The interesting thing about these tips is that they all have some really good tips! While the information may be good, that’s all it is, information. Studies show that when exposed to such information, we may post them on Facebook, put the pictures on Instagram or Pinterest, read them through once or twice, and then that’s the end of it. We don’t do anything more with them. We already have too much information.
Marriage tips may be good, but they don’t do much for a marriage. Why? The main reason marriage tips don’t work is that they rarely offer a step-by-step set of instructions on HOW to follow the tip. When we are left to determine on our own how to follow through, we simply don’t do it. We pay them homage, but we rarely follow the advice.
The Need for a Marriage Plan
Marriage coaches, counselors, and therapists are really good at doing at least two things:
- Asking excellent questions, and
- Devise a step-by-step marriage plan the couple can follow
Asking the right questions is vitally important to help the couple see things from a different viewpoint. The questions can help one understand themselves better and understand their spouse better. An excellent question can often lead the couple in the right direction in solving their issues.
Think about it. We talk to ourselves all the time. This “self-talk” can be fruitful or it can be harmful. When we ask ourselves the wrong question, like “How can I make my husband love me more,” we will give ourselves answers that can harm ourselves and the relationship. Coaches are skilled at asking the right kinds of questions that can benefit the person or couple.
If you’ve ever opened up a “build it yourself” package with dozens of parts, screws, and tools, you know how useful a good set of instructions can be. A step-by-step marriage plan is fundamental to a happy marriage. Ask any couple who has been married for several decades, and you’ll hear some really good advice. The most important thing about the advice is that the advice is something they followed routinely. It was a habit. It was a discipline. It was something they followed the majority of the time. Ask them about the difficult times, the difficult times all married couples go through, and they will tell you those difficult times happened when they weren’t following their own plan.
In the next part of this 2-part series, I will give you a proven step-by-step marriage plan you can follow. If you follow it, it will help you build a happy marriage. The marriage plan I will teach you is the very same proven plan I teach in my various coaching programs. I call it the 38 Minute Method. It is a simple 5-step marriage plan that you can use immediately.
Let me know your comments below. I look forward to hearing from you and teaching you my proven 5-step marriage plan in my next post.