Refresh your marriage in 21 days! (Part 1)

While grating some cheese over the children’s two-minute noodles, you ponder about disposable nappies, McDonald’s drive through, the Gautrain and Internet shopping – all designed to simplify life for the consumer in a speedy and convenient manner. Such a pity though that nobody has been able to discover a quick-fix solution for a marriage at the end of its tether.

Just imagine being able to transform your husband into a gentleman after just ten minutes in a pressure cooker. Or if you could take your marriage of the past two years to a quick 30-minute express lab to be digitally manipulated . . . wiping away all signs of fatigue and enhancing your sex drive ever so slightly and voila! Impossible? Unfortunately. But a wonderful marriage is still within your reach. Within 21 days? Unbelievable? Oh yes!
Using the following tips you can transform your marriage within 21 days. Here is how you to achieve it:

Step 1: Let go of self-absorbed tendencies

Hmmm . . . why can’t you understand that this is what I need? Why don’t you take my feelings into consideration? Because selfishness won’t get you anywhere. Selfish behaviour ruins the person you love. Ask yourself: What is my partner’s needs? What makes him happy? Now try to spend your energy on your spouse first. You can’t expect your spouse to make you happy. Cherish his needs and ask him to do the same for you.

Step 2: Make “us” a priority

You can compare yourself and your husband with an individual who is Afrikaans and another who is Zulu. You communicate differently, have your own philosophies about life and attach different emotional values to words and images used in conversations. Yes you may differ but you are still a team. Decide today that you are an active participant in your spouse’s team. Try hard not to interpret everything your partner says as an attack or criticism. Be his teammate and ask him to be yours. You are, after all, working towards the same end goal.

Step 3: Be a team!

When God created Adam and Eve, he joined two people who were very different. You and your husband don’t have to feel the same or think the same about everything. You can compare it to food: you both prefer different tastes and you can still eat what you like, but it is important to mix the tastes so that he too likes it. The question isn’t how similar couples are, but how efficiently they function as a unity.

Step 4: Find a way that is unique to the both of you

How you did things while still living at home has a greater influence on who you are in a marriage than you may think. Your spouse’s parents may have done things very differently to your parents. As such do not criticise your loved one for how they view things or deal with situations. Ten to one it’s how his parents viewed things. Decide as a couple how you will find your own way of doing or thinking about things. This is the time to create your own traditions and actions as a family unit.

Step 5: Realise that timing is everything!

A lack of good communication results in a lack of understanding. How you say something and when you say it will determine your partner’s reaction. Go about it in a clever manner and select your timing carefully. Don’t overwhelm your partner by telling him about everything in the house that is broken the minute he steps foot in the door. Rather wait until he has the time to look at all the damage. Women often feel that men don’t communicate enough within a marriage. Realise that sitting in silence is also a form of communication and learn how to feel at ease in such situations. Make the time each day to talk to each other and ask each other the necessary questions. Look your partner in the eyes when doing this and ask him to return the favour.

Step 6: Talk and listen

Have you ever noticed how you talk to your spouse? It’s easy to fall into the nasty habit of being rude, impatient or even sarcastic without realising it. Become aware of your body language when you see your spouse during the day. Listen to your tone of voice. Try to understand him, truly understand him, without becoming defensive after every little thing that he says.

Step 7: Give each other the necessary attention

Just because you have known each other for years doesn’t automatically imply that you truly know everything there is to know about your partner’s heart. In fact this time together could actually create a rift between you as the attention you bestow on each other starts declining over the years. Get to know your partner’s inner world once again. Share yours with him. Ask him what makes him happy and what recently made him feel stressed or anxious. Start getting to know your spouse again and learn who he is.

Step 8: Wear your heart on your sleeve

Willie Jonker writes: “When a husband and wife did not learn how to openly express differing opinions and how to resolve these from the very beginning, their marriage becomes an easy target for temptation to creep in making it easier to let go of each other for longer, more often. Eventually an insurmountable gap or hole develops between them.” Share you problems and fears with your partner. Be transparent and ask him to be the same with you.

Step 9: Take hold of your emotions

When you get so angry that you shout with tears streaming down your face while screaming words that should rather have gone unsaid, then you know it’s time to take hold of your emotions. Don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Ask yourself: Why do I want to say what I’m about to say? What do I want to achieve? Learn to understand your emotions and gain control over them. You won’t achieve anything by shouting, crying or resenting your partner during an argument. At such times it’s best to write your feelings down and read it to your partner. It will also help you to sort through your own inner world before exposing your heart to your spouse. Learn how to carefully translate your emotions into words.

Step 10: Learn how to listen

If nobody heard what you said, then your words weren’t of any value. Do you really hear what you partner tells you? To learn how to listen requires a lot of hard work. For your own sake you need to relearn how to listen when your loved ones are sharing something with you. Misunderstandings arise when a message isn’t heard or is heard and interpreted incorrectly. To actively listen requires dedication. Become sensitive to the manner in which he communicates with you. Look at his body language and facial expressions and listen to his tone of voice.

To be continued . . .

Article by Louise Posthuma and Annelize Steyn