How to Get Your Spouse on Board with Improving Your Marriage
We hear this type of question all the time.
You’ve heard it said, “It takes two to tango.”
You’ve got all these awesome ideas on how to better your relationship, but no matter how many times you ask your spouse to get on board, you aren’t getting any ounce of participation from them.
You want your life to change, but you feel stuck.
“I want to be healthier, but my wife hates exercising.”
“I want our family to be more spiritual, but I can’t get my husband to initiate scripture reading and family home evening.”
“I wish that we weren’t on our phones as much, but everytime I ask my spouse to put their phone away we end up arguing.”
“I need more help around the house but I have to constantly nag, yell and scream before anyone lifts a finger.”
Do any of these situations sound familiar to you?
If so, you’re not alone.
So, how do you get your spouse to embrace all of these things and put them into practice?
You can’t make your spouse to do anything, regardless of how hard you try.
But why not?!?!
If you haven’t learned already, you have zero control over your spouse and their choices.
Zero. Zilch. None whatsoever.
In fact, there are very few things in life that you actually have control over: Just you… Your thoughts, your actions, your choices.
We talk about this all the time on the blog and in the podcast.
Just like it would do you absolutely no good to stand outside in the rain and beg the sky to stop, it does you no good to hound your spouse and constantly nag them in hopes that they will see things your way and change.
This is type of behavior is more harmful than helpful…
So, what can you do?
stop actively pursuing a change in them.
Have you ever watched people try to catch a chicken? It’s pretty hilarious.
The harder they try, and the more aggressively they chase, the more the chicken will elude them.
However, if you build a nice coup, fill it with chicken feed and some cozy hay and then walk away, chances are they will come on their own.
“If you build it, they will come!!!”
Field of Dreams anybody?… anyway…
Stop trying so hard to get your spouse to do what you want them to. Stop talking about it over and over again.
Instead, create an imaginary “chicken coup” in your relationship by doing everything in your power to set them up for success.
How can you do this?
#1: Take good care of yourself
Physically pencil in time on your calendar to do things that you love. When your cup is filled, you will be more happy, fulfilled, understanding and patient, and will become a safe place for your spouse.
When your tank is empty, you will have a shorter fuse with your spouse.
Stop waiting for someone else to fill up your cup. You are the only one in charge of your wellbeing.
Just like your car isn’t selfish for needing gas in its tank, you aren’t selfish for making sure you are well-fed, spiritually nourished, and mentally sane. Taking care of yourself is essential if you want your marriage to work!
#2: Reward the behavior you want to see more of
When your spouse does something that you want, slather them up with as much gratitude as you can muster!
None of this, “I shouldn’t have to say thank you for something that is their responsibility,” bull crap.
We’re humans… and humans like to be acknowledged for doing good things. It’s not necessarily logical, but it’s just how it is.
If you say “thank you” for something you asked your spouse to do, they will be more likely to do more of it in the future. It not only will feel good to them, but feeling grateful also feels really good to you!
The more you look for things to thank them for, the more you will find.
#3 Relinquish unnecessary control over your spouse
When you try to control everything about your spouse, they feel like you’re parenting them.
Don’t parent your spouse.
You are not their father or their mother. You don’t constantly need to be telling them what and how to do things.
If you want something done, ask them… but don’t tell them how to do it.
Surrendering the need to control every situation can be absolutely terrifying.
I told myself once that if I didn’t constantly hound my husband for what I wanted or tell him how to do things that they would never get done.
Does that sound familiar?
Have you ever told yourself that if you don’t step in, things just won’t get done?
Here’s the reality: If you never give your spouse opportunities to show they are trustworthy, you will never trust them.
It takes a lot of practice, and it takes a lot of trial and error.
Chances are, they won’t do things the way you would do them. That’s okay! They may surprise you with something even better.
#4 Set boundaries, not ultimatums
We could talk about this step for an hour…
Which is why we’re going to do just that! Tune in to the next episode of the podcast where we dive deeper into this idea.
Give these steps a try in your marriage.
Here’s the thing, though. You’ve got to give the steps at least six months before you can throw them out as unhelpful and stupid.
As Sara Bareilles says, “Surrender’s just a word. Till you try it out.”
I won’t lie. This is not easy and it takes a lot of practice. You won’t be perfect at it at first, and it may still take some time for your spouse to decide to jump on board.
Don’t give up!
The benefits for your marriage (and your own personal sanity) will blow you away.