We have crossed over into January, the time when everyone comes up with (and tries to stick to!) New Year’s Resolutions. Perhaps you are in the thick of that project right at this moment and thinking that you would do well to add on some marriage-related resolutions to your list. If that’s you, I want to offer a few tips to help get you started and equip you to stay the course. Though research shows that up to 80% of resolutions fail by the time February rolls around, that doesn’t have to be your story!
Steps for Cultivating Fruitful Marriage Resolutions
- Talk to your hubby.
Get your husband on board with your plan of action. If you have an accountability partner in him, someone who will come alongside you, support you in your resolutions, and spur you on, you are going to be far more productive and fruitful than if you attempted to go it alone. Also, when talking to your husband about your New Year’s resolutions for your marriage, be sure to ask him what areas of your marriage he sees that need the most attention and care. He may be seeing little problems arising in your marriage that you are oblivious to. So, talk to your man!
A lot of times, we like to rush ahead of God, draft our own plans, and pursue our own paths. Here’s the thing, though – not only does the Lord see the big picture that we can’t, but He is also the ultimate source of all wisdom and insight. So, go to Him! Take advantage of that wisdom that He promises to give you, and ask what the main areas of your marriage are that need the most time and attention. Ask Him what marriage resolutions He would have you make, and then also ask Him for direction as to how to go about actually sticking to those resolutions He inspires you to add to your list. You can’t go wrong seeking His wisdom and direction.
- Start slow.
With your resolutions, you want to walk at a sustainable pace. If you bite off more than you can chew, you are going to burn out and quickly give up on the resolutions you made. If you’ve hit a rough patch in your marriage and the areas of communication, intimacy, family dynamics, respect, roles, etc. all need work, don’t make the mistake of trying to tackle each and every one of those all at once. Instead, write down all the issues you’re having in your marriage, prioritize them in level of importance from the area of your marriage that needs the most work right away down to the area that isn’t technically going all that badly but could just use a little tune up. Now plug however many areas of your marriage there are on your list into that number of months, one per month. If there are three areas that need work, plug one of those each into the months of January, February, and March, for example. Tend to each one as the months go by, procuring marriage books about that topic, seeking our the advice of friends about that area, praying through that area and also discussing it with your husband, getting counseling if necessary, etc. – whatever you need to do each month to tackle the problems you are facing. That way, you will more easily stick to the resolutions you have made and see lasting improvement begin to take place in your marriage as you do.
- Remember where positive change actually comes from.
The mistake many of us make in the area of New Year’s resolutions is looking to ourselves, our strength, our dedication, and our abilities. Then, before we know it, we are giving up on what we set out to do because we were only relying on ourselves. What we have to remember is that lasting change comes only from the Lord, from the Holy Spirit of God working in our hearts to sanctify and reform us. If we are going to see our resolutions through to the end, especially in an area that can be as challenging as marriage can sometimes be, we are going to have to rely on the strength of God and His power alone that is made perfect in our weakness.
- Give grace.
We can sometimes be our own worst enemies. We act as raging taskmasters, both running ourselves ragged with “should-dos” and beating ourselves over the head with guilty and condemnation when we do not live up to them. We need to let that go, ladies. We need to accept the grace of God that is over our lives as His redeemed children, we need to give ourselves grace, and we need to also give our husbands grace as we go through this process of tending to our marriages. We are sinners married to sinners, and that means that sometimes life is going to be just plain hard. That is when the good news of the Gospel comes in to strengthen, bolster, guide, and encourage us.
- Have monthly marriage check-ups.
As you travel throughout 2018, at the end of each month schedule in regular marriage check-ups with your husband. Get together and discuss the area of your marriage that you have been tending to that month, assess how you guys are doing, talk about how you could do better, discuss the victories and fruit produced that month, and pray together for the Lord to continually sustain you in the good work of marriage and family. These check-ups will help to keep your head in the game, as it were, keeping your focus on your resolutions and on growing your marriage to the glory of God.
As you embark on this new year and all that it will contain, take joy, sweet ladies. There will be hard days, but there will also be good days. There will be challenges, but there will also be answers to those challenges. There will be struggles, but there will also be the comforting knowledge that the Lord is in the redeeming business. He will redeem each and every struggle, bringing good out of it and growing you ever more into the image of His dear Son. So, take heart! Working on your marriage will be worth it, and you’ll be glad you intentionally did what it takes to set yourself up for success in your marriage resolutions!