Nathan and I have been married for almost 3 years, and even though that’s not an entirely long time, it is time enough for a marriage to get into a slump if you’re not careful. We noticed that ours had gotten into one and decided to implement some new strategies to help.
Our "slump" was that we both are very stubborn people when we argue. We hardly ever argue over really big things…it’s just those small things, and boy can those small things seem and get big when we’re both really passionate about our opinions!
We had gotten into the habit of arguing poorly, and as much as I hate to admit it, there were times when there was shouting, name calling, and slamming of doors. Looking back, I see how completely and utterly childish these negative behaviors are, but when we were arguing and the other person wasn’t listening or conforming to our side, it seemed like the most “rational” way to get their attention.
One random week in conversation, we realized our arguing had gotten worse and that no matter what “cool down” techniques we tried to implement, they just weren’t working. That’s when Nathan came up with the “$2/offense” discipline.
Ever since we’ve been married, each month, we allot ourselves $25 of “fun money” – this can be spent on Goodwill shopping trips, CD’s, books, a new pair of shoes, etc. It’s not a lot of money, but it’s what we decided works for us and our budget.
Nathan decided that one way to help us stop arguing poorly would be to have a monetary consequence. The rules were simple: If we lose our cool, name call, slam a door, raise our voice, use a sharp tone etc. then we get penalized for our negative behavior and have to take $2 out of our fun money and give it to the other person. We agreed on the discipline, and every month since then we’ve taken out $25 in one dollar bills to help make it easier.
I will admit, it took some getting used to at first. It was a lot of "You owe me $2" as the other person rolled their eyes, let out a big sigh and regretfully handed over their fun money. But then after a while, we both realized that when the other person asked $2 from us, it was probably well deserved. And we also started noticing on our own when we each needed to pay up. There were times when I would use a sharp tone, and immediately say to Nathan, “I’m sorry. I owe you $2.” We slowly noticed that we were giving less and less money to each other, and that’s when we realized the discipline was working.
I know this discipline might not work for everyone, but it definitely does for us. I love my $25 fun money so much…it allows me date nights out with girlfriends, shopping trips with mama, and other fun splurges, so it breaks my heart to give it to Nathan over something I’ve done. :)
The Love Jar Discipline:
This other discipline is relatively new for us, but has been a fun and wonderful way for us to express love for each other. It’s called the “Love Jar” and I adapted it from Lysa TerKerust’s blog.
Basically, you each get a jar (we use small pint sized Ball jars for this), and you cut up slips of paper (we chose to do 4 pieces in each jar – 1 piece for each week of the month). Each partner writes on their slips of paper things that the other person could do to show them love. Then, you switch jars so that your spouse has your love jar and you have theirs. Every week, you draw a new piece of paper out of the jar and you do what’s on the piece of paper that week.
For example, some of ours have read:
Rachel: On one of your night’s off, cook dinner for us
Nathan: Make steak burritos for me
Rachel: Draw a bath for me, and light some candles
Nathan: Give me a 20 minute back massage
Now that we’ve implemented these two simple disciplines in our marriage, we’ve already noticed big differences – we think about what we say/do in an argument before just acting out, and we look forward to the fun and exciting challenges in the love jars.
So how do you and your spouse keep your marriage out of the slumps? Any techniques, disciplines or methods you have? I’d love to hear!