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Caveat: though all of these things could help in marriages with adultery, abuse and addiction, those kinds of marriages are a different breed and could also benefit from a different list; the marriages I have in mind for this specific list are those that are mostly healthy and/or struggling in much less destructive ways.

1) pray for yourself: to be loving, compassionate, humble, teachable, easily forgiving and hard to offend; to be healed; to be reparented by God
pray for your spouse: to be filled with every spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and relational blessing; to be healed; to be reparented by God
pray for your marriage: for unity and your hearts to be knitted together, for strength, for God to heal and shepherd you two, for protection from the enemy, to become each other’s friend (if you don’t feel like you are right now), to be a light to others

2) it’s better to be kind than right (choose your words wisely and speak them carefully); remember, you don’t have to say everything you’re thinking and feeling, and you don’t have to apologize for words that you don’t say

3) if you hear yourself saying the same thing over and over (with no changes) – and this is a hard one – perhaps ask yourself if what you’re trying to do is change or control your spouse, and perhaps you can pray about this thing instead
conversely, if you are possibly doing something that is hurting your spouse – and they have told you that you are – bring it to God and be open to owning your stuff, apologizing and trying to change (truly listening + a  genuine apology + sincere attempts to course correct go such a long way)

4) allow your spouse to be themselves (if it’s a sin issue or it hurts you, call it out prayerfully and gently; if it’s a quirk, try to let it go)

5) get counseling together or individually or both

6) learn about yourself and learn about each other (enneagram numbers, attachment styles, love languages, introvert vs. extrovert); also, keep learning about each other by asking good questions (we’ll pull up lists of questions online when we’re on dates or one of us will say something like, “tell me a story of what you were like when you were 10” or “what did it feel like when you first became a dad?” or “who were your best friends in high school”, etc.)

7) ask yourself: how can I make my spouse’s life better, easier, sweeter? (then do the things that will accomplish those goals)

8) try to find something you enjoy doing together

9) hold hands, hug, kiss, cuddle on the couch, cuddle before bed

10) say a lot of specific thank-you’s for what your spouse does for you and for others, and for who they are as a person

And if your marriage feels like it might be harder than the average hard, here are some resources:

*if you’re not safe or if you or your children are being physically or sexually hurt, please set up a safety plan (http://www.ncdsv.org/images/DV_Safety_Plan.pdf) and contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233)
*Detaching with Love webcast: https://elisabethklein.com/detaching-with-love-1/
*marriage assessment: http://bit.ly/marriage-assessment
*And my best resource: my 3-month e-course, Marriage Methods (now PAY WHAT YOU CAN): https://bit.ly/marriage-methods-pwyc

P.S. If you’d like to hear me riff on this more deeply, you can check out this week’s All That to Say episode.