The steps to a great marriage. You see a lot of titles like this if you spend any time on social media. Everyone is giving you three steps to this and four steps to that. In fact, the experts tell social media writers that these are the types of headlines that get the most clicks.
For example, I received an email the other day from an organization that I follow. The email listed 6 of their most recent post. Four of the posts started like this…
- “Here are 6 Areas in Your Life You Should…”
- “3 Ways to Create…”
- “7 Ways to…”
- “Do this 1 thing to…”
We’re use to seeing numbered list of specific actions, but life, work, and and especially marriage cannot be summed up in some simple steps. If this is what you were hoping for when you clicked on this post, you’re going to be disappointed.
Marriage is more a work of art than a scientific formula. The number of specific steps for a great marriage will vary from couple to couple, depending upon things like..
- How long you’ve been married.
- The specific issues you’re facing.
- Your upbringings and family dynamics.
- Personality differences.
But even though I can’t tell you the specific steps you need for a great marriage, I do know that the steps needed for a great marriage are:
Small steps, in the right direction, over a period of time.
You may think this is too vague and not very helpful, but the above principal will make the difference between losing in marriage and longevity in marriage.
Let’s break this principle down into its three main parts, so you can see what I mean.
Having a marriage that’s in the ditch and struggling, is a painful and discouraging place to be. It’s natural to want one or two steps that will quickly make a big difference. But big changes are usually the result of a series of small steps. In school, you don’t jump straight to analytic geometry. You start with addition and subtraction. In art, you don’t immediately paint a masterpiece. First, you learn the rules of color and perspective. In marriage, remember the old saying…“A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.”
In the right direction.
It is true that a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step, but for that journey to take you where you want to go, that step must be pointed in the right direction. When a flight leaves Miami, a variance of a few degrees can make the difference between landing in California and landing in the UK. Likewise, if you want to improve your golf swing, you start with little habits. But if those habits are poor and misguided, your golf ball will land far a field. When it comes to marriage, you must start with small steps, but you must make sure those steps are headed in the right direction.
Over a period of time.
We all want quick results. We want our GPS to show us the quickest route, our microwaves to pop popcorn in three minutes, and our doctor to give us a pill to alleviate our symptoms before we’re out of the office. But just like the giant redwoods of California, a strong marriage is built over many years. That’s not to say there aren’t some steps you can take right now to begin to turn things around, but if you want to have a strong marriage that goes the distance, you have to do just that… go the distance.
There are couples who have great marriages that have lasted 50, 60, and even 70 years. What are the specific steps they took to have that great marriage? I don’t know, but I do know this. They didn’t get their overnight…obviously. They took a small incremental steps in the right direction over a long period of time. Where they flawless at it? Absolutely not! But they were consistent, and their consistency trumped their imperfections.
Chances are, you already know some simple steps you need to take to get your marriage headed in the right direction. You may not like them, but you know them. Begin taking those steps, and continue taking those steps. You will be amazed at what a difference it makes when you take small steps, in the right direction, over a long period of time.
Think of some small steps you could immediately take to point things in the right direction. They could be as simple as smiling more, saying “thank you” more, offering to help more, or complementing more. Whatever they may be, consistently take those steps and see where they lead you. – Bret