“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
Your Plan of Action
In my last blog, I shared how my husband and I took a vision, created a design and plan of action to build our dream home. Using that same concept, let’s take the following example and create a vision and design and plan of action.
Example: Let’s say you are in a marriage that is floundering. It’s not what you had envisioned when you got married. You were deeply in love and happy and everything seemed so easy in those early years. Now you can hardly communicate without attacking, blaming and defending. Your words are laced with cynicism and contempt. There are few hugs or pleasant moments spent together.
You do not want to stay in that space and neither does your spouse. Your vision is to put together a design and plan of action to bring love and caring back into your marriage.
Using the above example, the first thing you need is to gather information that reflects all aspects of the problem. What specifically is happening? What are you satisfied with and dissatisfied with? What is working and what isn’t? When does communication break down?
Resist blaming and stick to observable behavior of both of you. Be specific.
You might include things like living separate lives with separate careers and friends, or no scheduled time for rest and relaxation, special nights out, etc. What common goals do you have that is being overlooked because of the differences? What specific behaviors of interaction do you observe both in yourself as well as your spouse. When things get tense, how do you respond? Remember we are responsible for our responses.
If you could wake up in the morning and your marriage was like you would like it to be, what would be happening? What would you be doing? What would your spouse be doing? If you have a vision of what a renewed marriage would look like, make a list of all the things you would like to see happen.
Making changes involve small steps.
What things can you do right now that move you in the positive direction you want to go.
For example, do one kind thing every day for your spouse. Spontaneously notice and compliment your spouse for what he/she is doing every day.
We become so focused on what we don’t like we forget to comment on what we do like.
When conversation heats up, make it a rule to stop and count to ten before you respond. Let your spouse know that you are taking responsibility for your actions and reactions and that when you begin to get angry or agitated you will ask for a time out to calm down.
What other small shifts in behavior could you begin doing?
Removing obstacles. Sit down with your spouse and tell him/her that you are actively working on improving your relationship. Ask for their input in helping you and whether both of you could work together on a plan. Responsibility begins with us.
You can’t change another person, but our actions and behaviors can have an impact on another.
If the problems are deep and serious, perhaps you can both agree to go to couples counseling where divisions are more clearly identified and worked on.
We bring to any intimate relationship unresolved issues from our past that are often transferred to our spouse.
Individual personal counseling can help address an anger issue, unrealistic expectations, the healing of old wounds, etc.
What obstacles can you identify that may be keeping you from developing your design of reconciliation and new direction? What needs to be removed? What needs to be put in place?
Taking those steps towards a meaningful design requires looking at all the things in our life that are keeping us from what we really want.
Using the same example, could the obstacles of attack/defend, not listening or hearing the concerns of the other, unwilling to negotiate and sacrifice, spending free time together with buddies instead of each other, unwillingness to take your share of daily home chores, etc. be undermining your efforts?
Sometimes, stopping negative behaviors and replacing them with more positive ones can make all the difference in the world.
Follow through with your plan of action. Too often we begin the process of envisioning what we want and start the implementation process, only to get discouraged and quit.
A design takes the things you have reviewed and discussed and puts them into an ongoing plan of action. Break this into tiny steps that you commit to follow. Be willing to address obstacles as they arise.
Those first tiny steps can be as simple as finding ways to be nice, refusing to call names or be insulting, taking time outs when angry until we can cool down and communicating without defending and attacking.
Make a commitment to continue what you started. Evaluate your progress and reward yourself and your spouse on a regular basis with things that are pleasing to both. Build on the positives and avoid the negatives.
When we take responsibility for what we do and how we act and react to others, we are often surprised at the results.
There are lots of self-help books that can help us communicate better, understand and work on relationships, etc. Take those early first tiny steps and develop a serious plan of action that both of you are willing to follow.
The results of a happy and loving relationship is huge and worth all the effort in bringing that about.
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