The most important thing I have learned is that if our relationship is not what it should be, we have deviated in some way from the pattern set in the Bible. He is not leading. I am not submitting. One or the other of us is not being charitable. One of us has become angry and sinned versus becoming angry and sinning not. One of our tongues (usually mine) has gotten out of control. I have not left my parents and cleaved unto my husband. He has not cherished me above all other women...even (especially?) his mother and sisters. We have not sought after God as individuals or as a couple. When something is wrong in a marriage, I honestly believe it ALWAYS comes down to not doing something we are instructed to in the word of God.
This gives me hope. I know that whatever the problem is, if I can find identify it, there is a solution to be found. And since the solution comes from a perfect and loving God, if I implement the solution, it will work. Identifying the problem can be difficult and might require the help of others. Implementing the solution is sure to be hard as it usually involves some habit breaking and flesh mortifying. But knowing that the problem is me, and knowing that the solution is to be found in a careful study of the scriptures, always gives me an action plan when something is off between HBON and myself. And this action plan will work for you, too.
Just take a minute to quit experiencing the problem and start identifying it.
For wisdom to see the problem and to find the solution. For patience to wait on the Lord for guidance. And for strength to take the necessary steps to fix the problem.
Don't try to reinvent the wheel. Look to scripture, pour over scripture, search diligently through the scripture for the solution to your problem. It is there if we will just look.
This is the trickiest part. Implementing the solutions found in the word is rarely easy. However, it has been my experience that it is MUCH easier than continuing down a destructive path. Anything worth having is worth fighting for, and a good marriage is no different.
One more note under this heading, I can "do" for myself, but I can't implement the solution for HBON. He has to fix his own faults and I have to fix mine. Usually one helps the other, but not by trying to. For example, if I am struggling with being charitable and HBON extends charity to me, it is easier for me to extend charity to him. If, instead, HBON tells me I need to be more charitable, it is liable to anger and hurt me and charity could get buried under all of that. His fixing a fault, i.e. being charitable, helps me more than if he tried to "help" me.
Stop. Pray. Study. Do.
Easier said than done, I know. But, I promise you, it works. EVERY TIME.
I'll share some of the lessons I have learned over the years while following this action plan. I'll share some problems HBON and I have faced, the scriptures that showed me (us) the solution, and what effect implementing them had. HBON will have complete veto power over all of these posts, so know that he is okay with the things I am saying. And also know that I don't consider myself an expert on this topic. I learn and relearn how to be a better wife every single day. But I do know some things now that I didn't know a few years ago, and if these little lessons can help you, then this will be worth my time. If nothing else, you will at least know that you are not alone in this constant job of marriage building.