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3 Ways to 'Spring Clean' Your Relationship or Marriage

Spring is finally here.

If you're like us, you might be cleaning out your closet, sweeping the garage, or tossing out old files from your office.

There's something cathartic about spring clean up. And yet we think this ritual shouldn’t be limited to your home, garden, or storage room.

As you transition out of the snow, cold, and long nights of winter, what would it look like to also spring clean your relationship?

Here are our three favorite tools.

 

Tools

 

1. Clean up your mindset.

Your mindset consists of your beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes toward your partner. It's not exactly like the shed in your backyard. But, without care and attention, it gets just as stale and messy.

We have a name for this clunky state of mind in marriage: fairness.

Striving for fairness is the habit we slip into when we're not paying attention. It’s trying to make everything 50/50. It’s keeping an invisible and wildly inaccurate mental scorecard that juxtaposes all your wonderful contributions to the relationship against your partner's failures.

How can you clean up your relationship mindset this spring? Easy. It’s the shift we talk about throughout The 80/80 Marriage. It’s the shift from fairness to a mindset of radical generosity.

Try it out today. Do one radically generous act of contribution – leave your partner an “I love you" note, take out the trash for them, or surprise them with a huge hug – then see what happens.

 

2. Clean up your structure.

Mindset is about what you think. Structure is about what you do. And it's another area where marriage and relationships sometimes get messy. This mess most often shows up as the uniquely modern experience we call “role confusion.”

Whose job is it to pick up Junior from school? Whose job is it to wait around at home during the cable guy's three hour service window? Whose job is it to coordinate Covid-safe social gatherings? For many couples, the answer is “who knows?”

How can you clean up your structure? Bring clarity and intentionality to your roles. Get clear on who does what. You can do this by working with your partner to create a new structure that includes your roles, your partner's roles, and shared roles. Or, if you want to go deeper, check out the practice in the Roles Chapter (Chapter 9) of The 80/80 Marriage.

 

3. Clean up your communication.

How does communication get messy? It all starts with a failure to reveal what’s really going on. This happens on two levels.

Sometimes we skip over or withhold our feelings of frustration, disappointment, or sadness toward our partner. Sometimes, though, we just stop revealing to our partner what's really going on. We stop talking about what we're excited about, our challenges with work or with parenting, or the ideas that bring us curiosity and joy. 

The antidote is to create space for revealing. This could be a short walk around the neighborhood in the evening. It could be lying in bed together during the 15 minutes before you fall asleep. It could be putting away your phones at breakfast.

Revealing simply requires intention and space: the intention to connect about what's really going on and space from the never-ending distractions of modern life.

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