I want to give you a tool that I guarantee will drastically improve your marriage in one week.
Both you and your spouse need to make a commitment to do the following: Don't cause pain, give pleasure.
After doing years of marriage counseling and being married for twenty years, I believe the key to enjoying each other and your marriage comes down to this one principle. But can it really be so simple? I don't have any doubt that the answer is, "yes."
So if it's so simple, why doesn't everyone do it? It should be easy -- just stop causing pain and only give each other pleasure, right?
Here are a few reasons why more people aren't applying this principle.
First, most couples are simply not aware of this principle.
There's so much written on the subject of relationships, that everything is made to sound so complicated. Indeed, making things more complicated than they have to be is a basic problem of human nature as King Solomon wrote in the Book of Proverbs:
God has made man straight, but he creates many complications.
Life is simpler than we think. We just make it much harder than it needs to be.
Secondly, to apply this tool requires a conscious effort and much work.
Another aspect of human nature is that people generally don't like pain. Yet, when it comes to building a strong marriage, one has to be ready to accept much pain.
People often say that you have to work at marriage. But most people don't really know what that means.
I can promise you at least one thing: If you and your spouse commit to working on this tool, you both will come to understand the meaning of "working at a relationship."
A giver is someone who is committed to minimizing causing others pain.
Thirdly, to apply this tool successfully, you have to want to be a giver rather than a taker. Marriage is a great reality test. A giver is someone who is committed to minimizing causing others pain and maximizing giving others pleasure. Are you a giver?
If you want to find out really quickly, try to fulfill this formula for one week and see how you do. In order to put it into practice, here are some practical suggestions, first about not inflicting pain and secondly, how to give more pleasure.
HOW NOT TO INFLICT PAIN
- In general, monitor closely how you talk to your spouse and don't let either one of you get away with saying anything that is hurtful or unkind. Point it out immediately. You should never accept any form of abusive treatment.
- Don't speak disrespectfully. Don't boss, give orders, make demands or be rude. Often we think because we had a bad day or because we are under a lot of pressure, that we are entitled to take it out on our spouses. Try to catch yourself the next time you feel like being abrupt or demanding remember to keep your mouth shut until you can speak nicely.
- Watch your tone of voice. If you speak to your spouse with irritation or annoyance in your voice, you are giving your spouse pain.
- Don't criticize, put down, or ridicule. Never embarrass your spouse in public.
- If you must give your spouse some "constructive criticism" don't do it on the spot, wait two days before you bring it up so that you can be sure to be saying it without anger or an edge in your voice.
- Watch your facial expressions. Looks can kill!
HOW TO GIVE PLEASURE
- What's amazing is that so many spouses do not have a complete picture of what their spouse likes and doesn't like. So sit down with your spouse and get a list of all the things that give him or her pleasure and do one of these things every day.
- Smile a lot at each other. You'd be amazed at how much pleasure you can give each other by being conscious to smile as much as possible.
- Before you say or do anything, ask yourself this question: "Will this bring us closer together or push us further apart? If it will bring you closer together, do it, if it will push you further apart, don't do it.
- Always ask, "What can I do for you?" Look for ways to help each other. They are always there, if you open your mouth and ask you'll be sure not to miss them.
- Have an honesty meeting once a month. Tell each other how the other is doing in both the pain and pleasure departments. The goal is to get feedback so you can improve upon your effort.
Lastly, it is crucial that, every day, you recommit to the goal to give pleasure and not cause pain. Great marriages are truly built one day at a time!