A dozen years ago today, I married a man who has become my best friend, teammate, and partner in change. On that day, I never imagined how our lives would change. I never considered how we would change. This post is all about that change and how it’s enhanced our marriage.
The effects of personal change are not just personal. Our changes affect everyone we interact with, especially our marriage. Why not work to create positive change as a team?
How Change Affects Marriage
I was watching a sitcom where the wife was trying to get her husband to exercise more. She had been using a fitness tracker and purchased one for him as a gift. The husband was resistant to the idea. He expressed these frustrations to his friend.
“I hate change.”
“I never ask her to change. I love the woman I married.”
“She’s 10,000 steps ahead of me and getting further every day.”
We’ve all seen this happen. I’ve been guilty of it myself. One spouse wants to change. The other is resistant. Conflict, resentment, and fear begin to compound as one pushes the change and the other pulls away.
Resistance to change in marriage can have negative consequences. According to divorce attorneys, these are some of the top reasons for divorce.
- Lack of communication
- Disagreement about finances
- Feeling held back
- Unrealistic expectations of the other
- Not understanding each other’s needs
- Unable to adapt to change
- Differing religious and cultural values.
What do all of these have in common? They are all resisting change.
Change How You See Change
There’s a better way to approach change in your marriage. By expecting and embracing change, the two of you can work to build a better life as a team.
All of our greatest accomplishments we’ve done as a team. We paid off our home, we’re in the best shape of our lives, we’re creating work we love and giving back. We don’t always agree, but we keep trying and grow stronger as a result.
Don’t Push the Change, Push the Why
This is one of the most important lessons we have learned. If you want to create change in your life, you have to sell your spouse on the why and not on the habit change. Most people don’t want to hear the words diet or budget. You’ll gain commitment much more quickly when you paint a picture of how good it will feel to look svelte in your bikini while on your dream vacation to Hawaii to celebrate the freedom of becoming debt free.
All Great Things Begin with a Dream
This weekend, sit down with your spouse and discuss what you want your dream life to look like. Give yourselves permission to dream big. Start with these questions and go where they lead you.
- What do we love about our lives?
- What do we want more of?
- In a perfect world, what would we change?
- What have we always dreamed of doing, but never pursued?
- If money weren’t an issue, how would we spend our time?
- What would we do if it were impossible to fail?
- What makes us come alive?
- If money were not a factor, where would we live?
- Where would we travel to if time and money were of no concern?
- How much money do we need to create the life of our dreams?
- How will we make it happen?
Set Goals and Take Action
When Jer and I talk about our dreams it’s clear that we don’t want all of the exact same things. That’s okay because we do agree on the overall vision and values that shape our lives. This is the next step to creating your dream life. Come to an agreement on your family vision, one or two sentences that describe what your dream future would look like.
Ask yourselves what you need to do to achieve this vision. Select the top 3 to 5 priorities and create SMART goals for each.
The benefit of creating change with your spouse is having a built-in accountability partner. Schedule weekly or monthly meetings to track your progress. Celebrate your successes along the way.
Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small
At the beginning of a new year, it’s not uncommon to hear about the guy who lost 100 pounds or paid off $100,000 of debt in 1 year. Change can seem overwhelming if we are focused on huge goals. Instead of shooting for 100 pounds, focus on what you can do this week and this month. Set a goal to lose 1 pound this week by cutting sugar in half, using a smaller plate, and walking 30 minutes a day. Starting small ensures that you have early wins to keep you motivated.
Vow to Choose Change
A dozen years ago, I committed “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.” If I were to do it all over again, our vows would read more like this.
I promise to be your best friend and loyal teammate, to ignite change and create a life better than we could ever imagine. I vow to be disciplined and grow our net worth so that we can take care of ourselves and help others. Together we will create habits that ensure a lifetime of good health, allowing us to serve each other and our community, igniting change that makes the world a better place.
Change is a choice. If it’s a better marriage you want, vow to choose change!