Want to improve your marriage? It may be tempting to think that what you need to do is fix your spouse; that they need to change. However, they probably feel the same way about you. And in reality, each of you can only change yourselves; you can’t force another person to change. But by drawing a circle around yourself and fixing everything within that circle, you automatically make your marriage better, regardless of what your spouse does.
To help you examine your role in marriage and do your part to make changes, here are 10 self-reflection activities with actions you can take. All of these suggestions come from couples who have attended re|engage in order to work on their marriages.
- Write out 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and replace all instances of the words “love” and “it” with your own name. (For example, if your name is Sarah, you would change “it is not arrogant” to “Sarah is not arrogant.”) Ask the Lord to reveal to you any places where those rewritten verses do not hold true for you, and then pray that He would grow you in those areas. Pick one attribute and focus on loving your spouse that way this week.
- Reflect on James 1:19. Are you a good listener? How well do you listen to your spouse without speaking much in return? How well do you listen to others besides your spouse?
- Think over the last few disagreements with your spouse. Do you notice a pattern? Have you been focusing on the wrongs done to you? Are you quick to anger? Are you seeking justification? The next time you find yourself off-center with your spouse, prayerfully consider your part in it. Challenge yourself to look at things from your spouse’s perspective, respond calmly, ask clarifying questions, and humbly seek forgiveness from God and from your spouse.
- When you feel yourself getting defensive or trying to correct your spouse, try to stop and think about what is causing that feeling. Is it sadness, embarrassment, or hurt? Try to see what’s beneath the surface and share that with your spouse. Ask the Lord to show you your brokenness and part in the conflict and seek forgiveness from Him and from your spouse.
- Have you ever stopped and really asked the Lord to reveal the baggage you have brought into your marriage and the ways you have wounded your spouse? This week, stop and prayerfully ask God to reveal those things. Listen carefully to the Lord and write them down. Prayerfully consider going to your spouse and confessing them (expecting nothing in return) and see what God will do!
- Read Psalm 139:1-4. Ask God to reveal any offenses you have against your spouse. Confess your part and seek forgiveness and restoration today.
- Take some time to be alone with the Lord. Meditate on His truth and promises. Honestly evaluate your walk with the Lord and ask yourself if you are truly trusting Him to help you stay committed in your marriage. Are you drawing on His strength to honor your covenant with your spouse?
- Consider some of the subjects, topics or actions that often lead to conflict in your marriage. How could you approach the conflict this causes differently? How could you first consider the perspective of your spouse before trying to force your will upon them? How could you better seek resolution in a way that will honor God and your marriage?
- Spend time thinking through what expectations you have for your spouse. Where did those expectations come from? Where are you looking for your spouse to fill needs that only God can meet? Share any unfair expectations you have put on your spouse and seek forgiveness and restoration.
- How well do you know your spouse? You have an opportunity to show the love of Christ to your spouse as you begin to know each other more intimately. How will that look for you? What steps do you need to take to begin the process? What changes do you need to make? What sacrifices? Begin today!
Although these questions are designed to help you work on yourself, you can also share this list with your spouse so they can do the same. Then, check out our list of 10 things you can do together to improve your marriage.