Feb 172015 3 Responses

Work On Your Marriage

In his book, The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Business Don’t Work and What to Do About It, Michael Gerber makes a distinction between working “in” your business and working “on” your business. His point is that for a business to grow, a leader must spend some time thinking about the big picture of how a company is operating. Too often, a small business owner is so busy with the day-to-day operation of the business that they cannot do the necessary work to help the business grow.

The same is true for marriage, especially a marriage where kids are in the home.

For marriage to work, each spouse must be working in the marriage. Money has to be made. Kids have to be raised. Bills have to be paid. The to-do list of my average day between work, marriage, parenting, civic duty, personal goals and aspirations, and a laundry list of other categories can be overwhelming.

It takes work, and oftentimes a lot of it, just to keep the household of Team Thompson up and running. Despite all the work, it is easy to feel like a continual failure. I’ve got to skip one meeting for another. I returned three phone calls, but never got to the fourth. I helped my wife with a couple of things, but she could really use my help on another. Do I take time to study with my child or do they deserve some playtime because we don’t have time for both? (See: How to Keep Work From Killing Your Marriage)

It takes a lot of work in marriage just to get through a day. And many couples fail at this. Laziness destroys a marriage. The couple often times remains together, because the lazy spouse could never make it on their own and the working spouse is too busy to end the relationship. Yet a marriage with a lazy spouse is never healthy. (Note: do not confuse “working” with having a job. By “working” I mean someone expending mental, physical, and emotional energy to keep the family running. A lot of people have jobs, but aren’t working in their marriage.)

Marriage takes so much work from a day-to-day perspective that it is easy for a couple never to take time to consider the big picture. They get so busy that they cannot see past today in order to determine if they like the direction their marriage is headed. This is a recipe for diaster.

A couple must take time to work “on” their marriage. (See: 5 Keys to Save Your Marriage)

Finding the time can feel impossible. Especially as parents are raising children, the idea of adding one more responsibility is overwhelming. Yet if a couple will intentionally set aside specific times to work “on” their marriage, they will find a better ability to work “in” their marriage.

Working “on” one’s marriage does several things:

It recreates a sense of partnership and togetherness.

It makes each spouse feel heard and respected.

It allows a couple to renegotiate responsibilities and expectations.

It provides a break from day-to-day demands.

It gives perspective and time to consider new possibilities.

It reminds the couple the world continues to go on even when they take time off.

It creates opportunities for growth and encouragement.

It reveals strengths to appreciate and weaknesses to improve within the relationship.

Working “on” one’s marriage is an important part of having a healthy marriage. Without intentional time to reflect, discuss, and plan how one will work “in” a marriage, a couple is left to hoping things work out in a positive way rather than determining how they will make things work.

There are several ways to work “on” a marriage, but there is one common key—intentional communication. This is what prevents most people from ever looking at the big picture. It is always easier in the moment to avoid intentional communication about the marriage and to simply run the kids to the next soccer game or discuss what you should eat for dinner. (See: The Only Enemy of Marriage)

It is far more difficult, and risky, to ask:

  • Are you happy in this relationship?
  • What am I not doing for you which you need me to do?
  • How am I making you feel used rather than valued?
  • Is the housework properly divided in your opinion?
  • Do you feel your heart coming more alive or dying?

There are a host of other questions which can, and should, be discussed. Discussions like these do not have to happen every day or every month, but there should be some time in which an open dialogue can take place and a spouse has the ability to safely communicate how they feel. (See: One Thing Great Couples Do That Others Don’t)

Working “in” a marriage is necessary, but working “on” the marriage is just as important.

Do both, and a healthy marriage is nearly guaranteed.

3 Responses to Work On Your Marriage
  1. […] Work On Your Marriage, by Kevin A. Thompson […]... brandonacox.com/links/2015-02-21
  2. […] A beautiful sunset, a cute child, an interesting fact, a deep thought, anything which causes good fe... kevinathompson.com/one-habit-that-starves-your-marriage
  3. […] While the amount of work does not diminish, the expectations from each spouse should be changed. On ... kevinathompson.com/in-marriage-some-things-never-change

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