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Ten Ways to Improve your Marriage

September 30, 2018

Another Way for week of September 21, 2018

Ten Ways to Improve your Marriage

Last week I canvassed friends on Facebook about their top causes of disharmony in marriage. I was curious whether others faced the same kinds of regular or even annual arguments that pop up for us. Several of our skirmishes no one else named include planting the garden; finishing DIY projects; performing stressful nursing duties for the other recovering from an operation; cleaning the basement or garage.

But enough about the ugly. Let’s look at what we can learn from the top issues, and how to nourish marriage.

Money was named most by those responding. Especially when you’re young and starting out, this is a biggee. We know that being raised with similar values helps, as does having long range goals that match up. Keeping a mutual checking account (but probably one person drawing from that fund to pay bills) works best for most of us. My husband and I also like each having an “allowance”—say $20 a week that each can spend freely without checking with each other. For bigger long-range goals, we recommend listening to the Dave Ramsey program or podcasts or even enrolling in one of his locally held “Financial Peace University” seminars to help manage money and get out of debt.

Relating to in-laws is sticky for many; I take a pass on that issue because I never had the opportunity to know my mother-in-law. Where love abides, keeping a focus on that basic love of parents for kids and vice versa, giving each other space and courtesy provides breathing room. There are toxic parents and toxic kids who hold grudges or put loved ones down. Talking with a pastor, friend or even a counselor can provide insights, direction and support.

The third on our list last week was chores—and I don’t know of any family or couple who hasn’t struggled with this issue. No matter how much we help each other, lists and responsibilities can always seem weighted towards ourselves. Pick one of these thoughts and see if you’ve felt it: I do more than he does; I do more than she does. Neither is a good feeling. But it doesn’t help to frame chores that way. Before marriage, these kinds of issues need to be discussed. Longtime family counselor Harvey Yoder recommends regular check-ins as a couple when you both have time and are in a good mood to sit down and discuss how you’re each feeling about issues.

Another item is the “You always” and “You never” conversations that are ill-thought out from the beginning. Try to frame those issues or complaints as an “I” statement: I feel overloaded when ….” Or “I wish we could ….” Recognize the cyclical nature of your own arguments and don’t let them surprise you. When you feel a need to point out the obvious—“Why can’t you put things back where they belong and then you wouldn’t have so much trouble finding things”—just stifle it. Commit yourself to working together without raising old arguments; they rarely do much good.

Finally here are time-tested ways to enjoy each other as a couple and improve your relationship:

  1. Go out to dinner or a movie. If that’s too costly, have pizza and movie night at home.
  2. Sit on your porch or deck or anywhere the TV isn’t blaring.
  3. Take a hike or drive or visit friends or neighbors.
  4. Make or keep a list of things you’re thankful for in your relationship. Compliment each other regularly.
  5. Especially when the children are young, enjoy date nights to be able to focus on each other. Offer to exchange the favor with friends—you keep their kids one night, and they keep yours another.
  6. Volunteer together for a cause you both support.
  7. Plan trips at least every several years, with or without children. If traveling distances isn’t your thing, find someplace nearby where you can get away for one or two nights to unwind and check in with each other.
  8. If there are intimacy problems, find a way to kindly address them or get help. Marriage is worth nurturing and cherishing.
  9. Enjoy the private jokes, the handholding, the snuggles.
  10. Go to church. If you can’t agree on which one, make space for each to have a respected connection with a faith group.


I’m guessing that some of you have great tips of your own. Share them here! We’d love to hear yours.


Send your own tips or ask for my free booklet, “Secrets of Long Marriage.” Write to me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  








  1. Love these! Such great reminders of how to keep our love on and strong in marriage! My husband and I have been married for almost three years and applying so many of these things have really made a huge difference in creating the foundation of our married life. Another big one that we have in our marriage is just to spend time laughing. It sounds so silly, but we tell each other corny jokes and have tickle fights chasing each other around the house and really… it is something so small that makes a big impact in our marriage. Anyhoo… Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment. Corny jokes and tickle fights (within reason) sound like good ways to connect and share your own bonds. Laughter is healing and a great balm. Great to hear from someone also on “this darling adventure” — will check out your blog as well!

  2. Excellent post!! Although I think I needed to see this about 20 years ago. I find that 2nd time around for each of us, we’re each putting more commitment and work into this one than we did before.
    You have some great tips and advice here!

    • Thank you Trisha. God bless your efforts to keep your commitments strong and thanks for being so faithful here! Love hearing from one and all.

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