The WHY Behind the How to Improve your Marriage Movement
If you grew up in the same culture and era as me, I could say, “Mawage (marriage). Mawage is what bwings…” and you could finish my sentence with “us togeder today.” (If you’re confused, you might need to watch The Princess Bride). Parroting the movie quote, today we are delving into one of my favorite topics–marriage and relationships with How to Improve your Marriage: Relationship Exercise #1.
Why do I love marriage and relationships? Probably because I have a B.S. (the degree, not the expletive) in Marriage, Family, and Human Development from Brigham Young University. And maybe it has to do with the million-plus views I had for a blog post I wrote way back in 2012 on 7 Ways in 7 Days to Knock the Socks Off Your Spouse (don’t judge the outdated blog). Through that post and counseling couples on the side, I’ve been told that my efforts have helped save marriages.
I want to keep doing it.
A Simple Step to Improve your Marriage
If you’re wanting to strengthen or improve your relationship, I have a simple and easy exercise revolving around memories. Positive memories can significantly impact your mental health, which can cascade into your relationship.
So, for this exercise, we’ll be recalling positive memories through the use of pictures. (If you or your spouse has a visual impairment, get creative to adapt this exercise to your needs).
Start by pulling out pictures of you and your spouse that have positive memories. Maybe the images show the two of you dating, your wedding day, or something from everyday life. The pictures can be recent or old. Time and place have little consequence because we’re focusing on building positive interactions.
As with the upcoming exercises I’ll present over the next few weeks, we’re focusing on building a positive foundation. Maybe you already have one in your marriage and want to strengthen it, or maybe yours has crumbled. Regardless, positivity can improve your relationship, providing strength to weather storms.
If you’re skeptical of this simple exercise, consider costly traditional therapy. (I usually encourage struggling couples to try therapy, but for some, it doesn’t work out because of a lack of preparation that I’ll explain now). With a therapist, you and your spouse sling some mud around in front of a stranger, and then add some mandated positive words (that often wear off as soon as you exit the building), and leave with a pile of homework that is too much for anyone to process. In a few weeks, you might feel hopeless again.
If you’re going to start therapy or work towards improving your marriage, one of the best ways is to first establish a positive foundation. Once you remember all the amazing reasons you’re together, you’re more likely to have the motivation to strengthen your relationship. You’re also more likely to have an increased desire to work things out and learn how to communicate effectively.
So in the next few days, find those positive pictures where you felt close to your spouse. Look at the pictures multiple times over the next week and draw upon the memories. Focus on the good and positive. Build your foundation so that next week, we can add in another simple exercise to create a safe haven for constructive communication to grow.
I hope you’ve enjoyed How to Improve your Marriage: Relationship Exercise #1. Check back soon for more tips or to share your success stories.