We can learn to be better spouses from watching the examples of other people who have done it right. It's not as simple as just observing, however. We have to know what we're looking for, find it and then implement it. This article offers guidance on how to improve your marriage through following other's examples.
Know the kind of marriage you (and your spouse!) want
Sit down and think about what your ideal marriage looks like. Try to be realistic but still optimistic. Discuss this list with your spouse and make any needed changes or additions. My husband, for example, has helped me to understand that we can have a happy marriage even if our house is cluttered, but we can't have a happy marriage if I am stressed out from cleaning all day. As a result, "have a lovely, tidy house" had to come off my list for now. Some of the things on your list might include working together, having fun, being transparent about what you do online and having a marriage that lasts forever.
Family advocate Burton Howard reminds us, "If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by." Remember that your marriage is different from any other relationship in your life, and as such, ought to be treasured. You can elaborate your list from there.
Watch for couples who have that kind of marriage
Are there people in your life who already have the kind of marriage you want? Look for couples who treat each other as equals and make decisions together. This could include your parents, friends at work, people in your neighborhood or couples at church. Remember, it's not important for them to be in your age group. Younger couples offer enthusiasm and older couples offer experience. You wouldn't want to miss out on either one when it comes from a couple whose marriage works really well.
Spend time with these optimistic, spiritual people
Now that you have identified people with great marriages, get to know them. Develop a rapport by inviting them to do things with you and your spouse like game nights and dinner parties, or just look for ways that you can be helpful to them. I have a friend who is struggling to care for her sensitive health as well as her new baby, so offering to help with her little one gave me a great opportunity to observe her marriage up close. People with fantastic marriages also generally love talking about why their marriage is great, so don't be afraid to ask questions.
Nothing you learn about marriage will ever be complete without communicating about it with your spouse. Your spouse can help revise anything you're mistaken on, as well as adding his or her own insights and enthusiasm. Any project becomes easier when your spouse is doing it with you. That is especially true of creating an amazing marriage.
Your home is the ideal place to learn about making a great marriage. Now that you have seen some helpful examples, put those discoveries to work. Just seeing good marriages won't do you any good unless you take action.
For example, I realized recently that I have no idea what one particular friend finds annoying about her husband. I know there are things she finds funny and maybe a little strange, but she never speaks negatively of him. I thought that was wonderful, but for a while, I didn't do anything about it. It was only once I started to actively think kind thoughts about my husband that things changed. I started looking for things I love about him instead of ways to "fix" him, and suddenly, there was nothing negative about him to say. It's really a beautiful thing, one that I might not have thought of without acting on the example of my dear friend.
No matter what kind of examples you have had in the past, you can seek out and emulate good marriages now. By having some clear goals in mind, finding and enjoying some people with exemplary marriages and then doing something about it, you can have a fantastic marriage relationship. Sometimes, you just need someone to show the way.