If the first syllable of conversation (“con”) means “with”, then it makes sense that having a better marriage takes conversation. Here are five conversations you probably aren’t having and should have for a better, happier relationship with your life partner.

better marriage through these five conversations

Chances are you are here because you are seeking to improve things with your spouse. You’re desiring a happier marriage. You may be frustrated because your wife does not seem to get you, and you can’t do anything right.

Let’s turn that ship around, and make a path towards a better marriage with your spouse by considering these five conversations you may not be having already.

5 Conversations You Should Have for a Better Marriage

1. A Better Marriage is an Inside Job

A better marriage is an inside job in the sense that you need to take time to reflect on yourself regularly. The first conversation you need to have is with yourself.

Healthy marriages are the byproduct of two healthy people working together, living together, doing life together. They are perfectly fine on their own, and they are even happier when they are together. The difference is like a well-tuned team helping each other along the way versus a drowning person who needs a lifeguard and risks drowning the lifeguard, too.

This conversation can happen in a number of ways, but it needs to happen regularly. For me, it’s a morning routine starting the day with what I am grateful for. This includes being grateful for my partner. She is different than me and brings a different perspective into my life. 

There are times I feel frustrated with my wife. I start with a conversation with myself for a thorough reality check. What am I feeling? Why am I feeling it? If my wife and I are on the same team, what is the best response that builds us up? HALT! Am I hungry, angry (usually at something else), feeling lonely or not understood, or tired?

Once I have an understanding of where I am, where I want to go and remind myself that my wife is not my enemy, I can have more conversations towards a better marriage that include my spouse.

Lina Guillen is a divorce lawyer who recommends how to have a better marriage by taking time to think before speaking, treating your spouse better than you treat anyone else, and always assuming the best about your partner. These are all inside conversations before your mouth ever opens to utter words towards your spouse.

2. Your Different Parenting Styles

Parenting styles can play a role in helping you grow into a better marriage or send you into isolation from one another. 

One of you may prefer daily structures and routines while the other prefers a more “free-range” approach. One may prefer a firm hand with spankings while the other leverages a dialogue approach. Rules get even more confusing where one parent enforces a set of rules while the other parent shirks adherence to those same rules. 

The inconsistency can ultimately create further division between the married couple. As you’re disagreeing with each other privately or publicly on parenting styles, your children are learning how to leverage this division to their advantage.

Olivia and I have different styles, and sometimes a different sense of what is most important. Our kids don’t necessarily know that. They see a unified front even when they pulled us aside and tried to change a previous decision.

How did we pull this off? We talked about it ahead of time, in the moment, and after the fact. Over time, we created a synergy in our parenting style. 

We’d address things like the following:

  • When do we want to have “the talk”?
  • What do we think about our kids dating?
  • How should we respond when our children come to us with a problem in a way that encourages them to trust us?
  • What is a big decision we made that the other parent should know about? Why was that the decision?
  • How could we handle this situation better both now and next time?
  • What are our kids going through right now, and how can we best support their growth?
  • How do we let our kids learn from their mistakes, accept accountability, and take responsibility?

That last one was sometimes the hardest. It’s easy to want to swoop in and save the day in the name of being a good parent, but our kids do need to learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

3. Seek Help Early

A better marriage takes outside assistance, too. All the top-class athletes receive coaching from someone. That outside perspective gives you another angle to see the world. Drivers on the freeway risk getting sideswiped on lane changes because they didn’t see the other driver in that blind spot. That is why mirrors and lane change assist technology have been installed in cars in recent years.

Outside assistance comes in many forms. The most commonly thought of resource is a marriage counselor. Contrary to popular belief, marriage counseling can help create happy, healthier, better marriages when used as a preventive measure.

Family law practitioner, Aaron Thomas, discussed in a recent Beyond the Rut podcast episode that he includes in his prenuptial agreements a clause where the couple agrees to both routine and emergency marriage counseling sessions each year. The idea is to leverage counseling to keep a marriage going strong rather than a divorce checklist item.

Marriage coaching is also available. One popular couple I know of is Kevin and Cetelia Bullard from MarriageWorks.co. I’ve followed them for years on Twitter and Facebook. Coaching differs from counseling in one major way. Coaching is not supposed to dig into healing your past. It stays future-focused based on where you are right now. Coaches do not provide any form of psycho-analysis or diagnose you with anything.

My wife and I have not gone to a marriage counseling session, but we have leveraged this next opportunity for many years. We were mentored by another couple, Joe and Connie, who asked us to serve with them on a volunteer team for the Weekend to Remember marriage conference in Corpus Christi, Texas. In the years we served together, we spent a lot of time with them seeing how their own marriage survived and thrived hardships like drug addiction, the loss of a son, cancer, and more. You would not know it looking at them today. Spending time with them has taught us a lot about forgiveness, and what cherishing our partner really means.

4. Talk About the Money Before You Argue About the Money

Sex and money are the top two reasons why couples fight. We’re going to focus on the money part for this article. More specifically, the conversations around money are the problem. 

Money shows you where your priorities and values are. Discussing money gets personal. Questioning expenditures is almost like questioning one’s life and life choices, one’s value in the relationship even.

Learning to discuss money is critical for a better marriage. Whatever your preferences are, you need to discuss them with your partner. Aaron Thomas, the prenup family lawyer mentioned earlier, also includes how the money will be handled during the marriage as well as disclosing everything for full transparency.

That same kind of conversation can be had without a prenuptial agreement. Dan Hinz has helped couples through his YouTube channel Adulting with Money have these kinds of conversations. He recently pivoted away from coaching couples, but those YouTube videos are helpful.

Michael Lacy was overwhelmed with the pressure of debt during his honeymoon. Today, he helps couples sort out debt, increase their income, and win towards wealth. The advantage both of these coaches bring is how to have conversations with your partner about money for a better marriage.

5. What Dreams May Come

When you were dating your spouse before you got married, how often did you talk about the future? How often do you do that now?

If your marriage has hope for the future, there should be an element of planning it together. Daydream about where it would be great to go someday. It may seem daunting with the pressures of raising children, paying off debt, going to work. 

Keep this in mind. One day, your children will be out of the house and it’ll be just you and your spouse. That job you’re killing yourself with stress to not get fired does not really care about your time with your family. That debt if not addressed will continue to limit your options though. Get that taken care of.

If you had just five years left to live, what would be most important to you? Who would be most important to you? How would you want to spend those five years now?

As you daydream with your partner, you may find there is an opportunity to make something happen now. It could lead to practical solutions like a plan to eradicate that debt after all, a vacation you’ve put off until now, a career change that neither of you had the courage to say needed to happen.

Spend time on a regular basis sharing hopes and dreams. There’s no pressure to make any of them happen, and be open to that possibility at the same time. 

Conclusion

There you have it. We just discussed five conversations for a better marriage that you may not be having. The hope is that you’ll take at least one of these and try it out. Keep a journal on the conversations you’re having and note if you’re feeling on the path to a better marriage in 30 days.

Remember that it is a CONversation to be had with your spouse not at your spouse.

Here are some resources to help you dig deeper on the topics we discussed above for a better marriage. 

Listen to These Episodes of Beyond the Rut Podcast

Healing for the Grown-Up Child of Divorce – BtR 295; We mentioned that a better marriage starts as an inside job. Podcaster and writer, Sarah Geringer shares the healing she had to go through to be able to accept she was worthy of happiness in relationships.

Must-Have Marriage Tips from Prenup Lawyer Aaron Thomas – BtR 294; It seems counter-intuitive that a lawyer whose practice specializes in divorce and prenuptial agreements could talk on how to have a better marriage. They see what makes a marriage falls apart. Why not get some wisdom from their knowledge and experience? What makes a marriage successful? Communication, communication, communication.

SWOT Analysis for a Healthy Marriage – BtR 293; Marriage is not a business relationship, but there are business communication principles that also carry over into our personal lives. Joe Pomeroy shares with us why and how that is. Maybe a SWOT analysis is the first conversation you need to have with your partner?

Suggested Reading

Here are some books that have made a difference in my own marriage.

Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last by Dr. John Gottman

The Christian Husband by Bob Lepine

The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths About Marriage and Divorce by Shaunti Feldhahn and Tally Whitehead

Start Within – Download a Free Copy of Measure It to Make It

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Your life does not need to continue without a deliberate approach to it. Measure It to Make It helps you identify your core values, your desired bucket list, then lay out a plan to get there for just 20 minutes a day.

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5 Conversations for a Better Marriage You Probably Aren’t Having

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