The old has passed and the new has come.
On the eve of the dawn of a new year there lingers the delicious aroma of wonder and possibility. It feels like, if even for a moment, anything is possible. For a frozen second in time, the stars will align and all of our wildest dreams and deepest hopes will magically manifest as reality.
Financial security, a healthy body, obedient children, and a happy marriage are only a tick of the clock from our ever-reaching grasp.
We want our marriages to be better. We want to argue less. We want to love each other more. We want to find happiness and contentment with our partners.
So we hold our breath in eager anticipation of the miraculous New Year. At the stroke of midnight, like a mystical fairy tale where happiness always prevails, our hearts align with those of our one true love and there will be fantastical, breathtaking fireworks that light up our lives with wonderment and a happy ever after.
In that mystical moment when time waltzes into its new identity, we make resounding resolutions and potent promises. We dare to hope. We dare to believe.
But just as the early morning mists are slowly driven away by the harsh rays of the rising sun, so do our resolutions slowly dissipate under the challenges and trials that come upon the heels of each new day until all that remains is the guilt of failed resolution.
An estimated 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail, the majority within the first 30 to 90 day. Why? Because we dream of the big change, the immediate epiphany, the miraculous manifestation. However, real and lasting change comes in small, sometimes barely perceptible, increments. We want the end result not the journey. We set our eyes on the final prize but never train ourselves for the ensuing race.
So we fail, and the fall from the heights of hope is a hard one indeed. But do not despair! It doesn’t have to be that way. There is hope for marital revival! A new year can bring a revolution to your marriage. You just have to approach it the right way…and be patient! It’s a dedicated journey, not an instantaneous phenomenon.
Here are ten real, manageable steps of resolution to help initiate the marriage revolution you are dreaming of in the brand new year:
- Take baby steps: Taking giant leaps and making end-game resolutions accompanied by expectations of massive, instantaneous change is destined to frustrate us to the point of failure. We must instead resolve to take baby steps – setting one attainable, short-term goal for our aviation marriages. Change will come. Be steadfast, be patient. Set small goals and then be sure to celebrate each small victory along the way.
- Reactive not forced: Do not set goals for your partner’s behavioral changes, but instead set goals for your own behavioral modification! You cannot forcibly change someone else’s behavior. Trying to do so will inevitably initiate great frustration and resentment for you and your partner. Instead focus on things you can do personally that will in turn initiate reactive change – a change in behavior in response to a change in yours. As you change the way you treat your spouse for the positive, they will change their reactions to you for the positive!
- Keep it simple: You should only set one or two attainable behavioral changes for yourself at a time! Do not overwhelm yourself with so many expectations that you cannot possibly meet them all (or something so vague and/or big that it’s accomplishment is inconceivable). When those are met, make some more! Remember, it’s a journey not a magic show.
- Talk about it: Ask your spouse for a list of one to three things that you could do to make him or her happier in your marriage. However, if he/she does not ask for a list in return, do not provide one (you can’t force them to change!). And if they do not provide one for you, don’t let it sway you. Think up your own and carry on soldier! Remember not to take his or her answers personally. Frank questions demand frank answers. If a face-to-face is too emotionally volatile, then ask him/her to write it down. However, knowing exactly what it is that makes your spouse tick will perhaps help you zero in on behaviors to focus on first. And when he/she see’s you making a determined effort to fulfill their marital needs, an avalanche of positive change will follow.
- Write it down, post it, share it: No, I don’t mean on Facebook! Write down your marriage revolution resolutions in a card with a favorite picture of you together and give it to your spouse (the next time you see him or her!), telling him/her that you want to be a better husband/wife. Make a second copy (with picture) and post it in a place where you will see it and be reminded of them at the start of each and every day. This will make the goals more real, keep them fresh, and zero in your focus. This will be an encouragement to your spouse and a reminder for you not only of your goals, but of why you are pursuing them!
- Dust yourself off: You are going to fail. Own it; get over it. We all make mistakes. When you do, get back up dust yourself off, offer apologies to yourself and your spouse where necessary, and keep going! A happy, stable marriage will be so worth it. Don’t plan to fail, but have a plan for when you do!
- Journal it: Keeping a journal of your marriage revolution resolutions, how each day went, what you did well, what you didn’t, and any changes in your marriage or spouse (no matter how small) will help you see the positive changes that occur slowly over the year. Looking back at this will give you even more motivation to keep going.
- Check in: Ask your partner how you are doing every two weeks to a month. Ask him or her how they feel the changes are working and there is anything new you can attempt that would continue to strengthen your marriage. After all, marriage revolution resolutions don’t just have to happen in January!
- Involve a mentor: Having a trusted confidante to talk about the victories and struggles of your journey with on a regular basis will help keep you on course. Be sure to choose someone who supports your aviation marriage and will pour constructive and encouraging truth into you. This person should be someone who will comfort you when needed but who is also not afraid to tell you when you are out of line. Be truthful with him/her and check in often.
- Pray about it: Let’s face it. We are often tines weak an irresolute in our resolution. Hey, ‘never eating a piece of chocolate cake again’ sounds mighty fine and totally doable…until someone sticks a big, delicious, chocolatey piece of cake in front of your nose! Trying to accomplish behavioral changes on our own finite power is difficult to impossible. We need the backing of an infinitely powerful God to help us push through the low valleys and give us strength and encouragement to carry on. You are not in this alone! He wants you to experience marriage the way it was meant to be too, so let Him help!
A few marriage revolution resolution ideas to get you started:
- I will do something nice for my spouse every day.
- I will speak only encouraging, uplifting words to and about my spouse.
- I will post only positive things about my spouse on social media.
- I will be more sexually responsive to my spouse.
- I will tell my spouse how proud I am of him/her every day.
- I will text my spouse good morning and good night every day when we are apart.
- I will go on a date with my spouse at least every ___ weeks.
- I will tell my spouse something I love about them every day.
- I will respect my spouse in public.
- I will not say negative things about or argue with my spouse in front of my children.
- I will pray for my spouse daily.
- I will put down my phone when we are together and pay attention to my spouse.
- I will not allow toxic outside sources to taint my marriage or view of my spouse.
- I will communicate my feelings to my spouse instead of holding them in.
Friends, let’s be frank. Change is neither quick or easy. There is no magical New Year’s button that we push to see immediate and resounding change. Behavioral change is a dedicate and difficult journey comprised of small tangible steps, but it is possible and it is worth it!
If there is one wish I had for the New Year, it would be that each and every one of you seek, find, and revel in the pure joy of a happy marriage as it was meant to be.
I love you, aviation family. May your 2018 and your marriages be full of amazing blessings and overflowing with joy.
Angelia (a fellow pilot wife)