Proactive Marriage


Do you ever use those two words together in a sentence or in your thoughts?  I actually do, but I also often find myself trying to come up with more effective ways to express just what Engaged Marriage is all about.

I would expect that you don’t face this same issue, so you probably haven’t had a good reason to talk about a “proactive marriage.”  That’s cool.  The words aren’t important.

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However, if you do not practice a proactive marriage, I sincerely think you are missing out on an incredible opportunity for improving your quality of life.  And more than that, you are quite possibly setting your relationship up for problems over time.

Don’t Take My Word For It

If you have been a reader here for a while, you know that I am a big fan of Seth Godin.  You may have also read some of my thoughts on a book called “The Big Moo,” which represents the collective writings of 33 of the best business writers (and thinkers) on Earth. Mr. Godin brought this “Group of 33” together and edited this awesome compilation.

One of the stories in The Big Moo really resonated with me.  Here is an excerpt from a chapter entitled “Panic at Inappropriate Times:”

Imagine a potbellied, nervous, cigarette-smoking salesman, pacing back and forth in front of his office building. He’s annoyed to be outside, but they won’t let him smoke inside. He’s puffing as hard as he can, anxious about getting back to work.

This guy is focused on solving the urgent problems in his life. And all those problems are about today. He’s not focused one bit on losing weight or giving up cigarettes or understanding how tense he is. He figures that there will be time for that later.

Right now, he needs to panic about the sales numbers that are due tomorrow. He’ll have time to panic about his health when he’s in the hospital having bypass surgery.

The time to panic about his health is right now, of course, while he can still do something about it. Taking action today on a long-term problem is easier, cheaper, more effective, and far less time consuming than waiting for it to become an emergency. The time to panic about his health is today. The time to panic about the sales numbers was last week.

When I read these words, I immediately thought about my life and those areas where I have allowed my focus to turn to short-term, relatively meaningless concerns and, in the process, lost focus of the real priorities.

Don’t Wait for Panic Mode in Your Marriage

Take a lesson from the fat cigarette puffer in this story.  Don’t allow your focus to get out of whack.  And especially do not let the important things in life slide by on cruise control until it’s too late.

Be proactive in your marriage!  I urge you.  Do it for yourself, for your spouse, for your family and for our entire society.

Invest 15 minutes a day in your relationship, learn about your spouse and their love language, and just give a damn now.  Don’t wait until your faced with a loss of intimacy or a serious breakdown in your marriage.  Do not require problems to surface before you work on improving yourself and your relationship.

Engaged Marriage Is Here to Help

I give freely of my time to provide you with the information and motivation that you need to be proactive. I want you to have an extraordinary marriage.  I really do.

Of course your efforts have to go beyond reading a blog, but this is a reasonable place to start.  Spend some time browsing the existing posts to find something that resonates with you, and then share it with your spouse.  Pick one idea that you like and try to apply it in your life for a week.  Sign up for free updates so new posts are sent to you to read at your convenience.

The posts aren’t important.  It’s what you do with them that matters.

Be proactive and do things that matter…for your marriage.

Share Your Successes

I would love some feedback on this topic.  While I have my own ideas, I would really like to hear what works for you.

What is the best “exercise” or practical advice that you’ve used in your marriage to improve your communication, romance, intimacy, spirituality, finances or any other area related to your quality of life?

You may just find some of your suggestions showing up in the new Marriage Time newsletter where they can be super-helpful in assisting couples to take a meaningful, proactive approach to their marriage.  I understand the crazy lives that we all lead, so my focus in the newsletter is generally on high-value activities that can be done in around 15 minutes.  Have you signed up yet?

Photo by Ferminius


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. Great advice as always! I totally agree with you about making that effort NOW. For example, this morning, I was sucked into a million things at once – the computer, getting to work, some paperwork I was trying to organize, etc. etc. My husband was trying to give me a good morning kiss and hug. I was too engrossed in my tasks to notice.

    When he stepped away, I realized what I had done and quickly stopped what I was doing, apologized, and gave him a big hug and kiss. It stopped him from having hurt feelings or us having an argument and most of all, it made me smile and appreciate him for the rest of the day. It made us start the day off right. A little thing, but oh, so important!
    .-= Shawna Cevraini´s last blog ..House of Cards =-.

    1. Thanks, Shawna! That is a perfect, everyday example of how valuable it can be to step back, consider how your spouse is feeling and then do the right thing. That 5 second change this morning changed your whole day!

  2. Love it! The number one thing I learned from the 8 week challenge…don’t coast! Just because things are good now does not mean they always will be! I really feel like I have an exciting new marriage because I am putting effort into it now! We are both proactive people…don’t wait until it’s broke, but rather make it better now!
    I feel like a cheerleader jumping up and down in the background…that is how much I love this post!

    1. You are always making me smile, Jen! I love it when people really “get it” and share my enthusiasm for this stuff. “Don’t wait until it’s broke, but rather make it better now!”


  3. I quit smoking 2 years ago this past January and it was the best decision I ever made. I feel great. I got married last summer and it’s great that my wife, who is a non-smoker doesn’t have to deal with my bad habit such as being at a restaurant together for an occasion and having to get up and go outdoors for a smoke. I used to hate having to do that.

    Nice post. BTW – First time visitor – I like your site! Great stuff.
    .-= The Rat´s last blog ..BIN Revisited: From Tantrum to Tantalization =-.

    1. Thanks, The Rat (love your avatar by the way). I grew up in a small house with two smoking parents. Looking back, I don’t know how I handled it, but I suppose I didn’t know any better. I do often wonder how a non-smoking spouse puts up with a smoker…that would have to be a strain a times.

      Thanks for your kind words, and thanks SO much for checking out the site and commenting. I trust you’ll feel right at home here in our awesome community!

  4. You’re welcome! Looking forward to visiting again! I also included you in my round up post for the Yakezie challenge.

    The Rat
    .-= The Rat´s last blog ..BIN Revisited: From Tantrum to Tantalization =-.

    1. Thanks! I’m not sure if I’ll “officially” be participating in the Yakezie challenge since they’ve clarified it’s for those that focus on Personal Finance with 51%+ of their content. I obviously don’t hit that threshold, even though I write a lot about money and careers. We’ll see! 🙂

  5. Very nice post Dustin! It is so true, and something that most of us slip up on from time to time. And then there are the ones that couldn’t care less, or maybe just take their relationship and their life here on Earth for granted.Whatever the reason I agree with you, the time is NOW, not later. Very nice;y written as always sir! 🙂
    .-= Brad´s last blog ..Great Financial Advice From The In-Flight Safety Handbook =-.

    1. Thanks so much, Brad. I always have *in my mind* that I want to be proactive. It’s the *active* part that gets me sometimes despite my best intentions! 🙂

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  8. Hi Dustin,

    My hubbie and I are juuuust getting back to proactive now that my little one is 1 1/2 years old. During the first year of sleep deprivation and the ongoing, nonstop demands of an infant we were almost completely reactive. Thankfully, we had a really great foundation in our relationship so we were able to move through it even though we bickered a lot.

    Now that our son is a little older, we are finding our balance again. And that includes time for ourselves, which has been missing (just the nature of having such a wee one). We are also creating more time for proactive communication. The next piece is to fit in more “date” time – it’s been challenging up until now just because we have been so tired – we both work full time and our son is just starting to sleep through the night (yay!)

    Thanks for this post!

    Best, Wendy
    .-= Wendy Maynard´s last blog ..How to Effectively Market Your Business Online =-.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Wendy! I can totally relate to the stress and struggles that accompany an infant. We have two young children, and my wife is currently 6 months pregnant!

      It sounds like you had a particularly rough time with 1 1/2 years of sleep deprivation, so many congrats to you on getting a full night’s sleep now. I’d strongly encourage you to embrace the regained freedom that you have and really focus on taking your marriage to a whole new level. You guys deserve it. 🙂

  9. Hi Dustin! As someone in a marriage teetering on crisis at any moment, this post certainly struck a chord with me. We are in constant up & downs and it’s easy to be complacent in an “up” period. I think that taking real advantage of those times, being proactive, would help the ups stay around longer.

    Thanks for the insightful post! I shared it on twitter for you!

    1. Thanks for your great insight, Tara! I’m sorry to hear that your marriage is a bit unstable, but I totally agree with you that taking a proactive approach can improve things overall.

      Thanks for being part of the community, and thanks for sharing this post on Twitter!

  10. I love this concept, and I think it’s one that can be applied not just to marriage, but also to parenting (and life in general). I used to be a sales guy, and we had a saying that went “On every call, someone gets sold – either the customer buys your product or you buy their excuse.” You’re either buyer or seller. No middle ground.

    It works the same way in life. You’re either working toward progress or you’re allowing its erosion.

    Will you do something to make your marriage better today or will you hope that today’s neglect only inflicts minor damage? That’s the question we need to ask ourselves daily. If phrased like that, who wouldn’t want to pursue a proactive marriage? Who wouldn’t be more intentional about how they treat their spouse?

    Thanks for encouraging and inspiring me to be a more proactive, engaged husband.
    .-= Eppie @ Better Parenting´s last blog ..3 Dad Blogs that Will Keep You Laughing (and Teach You Something) =-.

    1. Thanks, Eppie. I really like that sales saying, and I think it’s a strong mindset to take. Either you are progressing or you’re regressing…and I personally love the thought, feel and results associated with being proactive.

      Thank you for your continued encouragement here as part our community, and thanks for all you do to help us be better parents through your work on your own site.

  11. Dustin,

    Very good post, being proactive in ones marriage is a must! Most people think that quality of life comes from the money we earn and the things it can buy but if we look closely at the relationships we have with our significant others we begin to see room for improvement. I can tell you this, the most fun and stress free times in my life are those times spent laughing and enjoying the time I spend with my wife.

    Thank you for the value you give your readers everyday!
    .-= David Johnson´s last blog ..Optimizing Your Dealership For Social Media =-.

    1. Thank you so much, David! Your compliments mean a lot to me, and I totally agree with you that we don’t find true happiness or contentment in the stuff that we buy. I actually just wrote a post today called “The Grass is Always Greener…and I Don’t Give a Damn!” that made that point from my own perspective.

  12. Forgiveness – that’s my best and only advice. If you can’t forgive your spouse for just about anything and everything then why is that the person you married? We are human, we are flawed, we will wander off the path we will make mistakes. Yes, all of us. Forgive, work on forgetting and move onto happier times. Either that or wallow in your own misery and self-pity – up to you.
    .-= Jim Raffel´s last blog ..The Help Others Manifesto =-.

    1. Excellent advice, Jim! I agree that forgiveness is the key to any successful relationship, particularly marriage. Thank you for joining us here as part of the Engaged Marriage community!

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  15. Just like anything that you want to keep for the longterm, marriage requires proactive maintenance.

    Think of ways to remind your spouse that you love and care for them. It makes them feel good and people like to be with people that make them feel good.

    Dustin’s blog posts are full of simple ways to express your affection and thereby tighten the bond.

  16. Dustin, my husband and I have been married for 19 years in August. The word proactive is an interesting one. It is a very nice word to say…a very difficult concept to follow. You are wise to encourage your readers to pursue proactivity, but I would also encourage them to be certain that they do not see their marriages as projects. It is an easy thing to do. Proactivity has such a mechanical sound. For us, proactivity would have to be defined as positive action born out of a knowledge of what your spouse truly needs. And all of it would have to be rooted in humility. Great advice!

    1. Thanks for the awesome and insightful comment, Jorja. I agree that it is much easier to say you’re proactive than to actually live it. You bring up a really interesting point about not seeing our marriages as projects. I personally don’t associate the word “proactive” with a mechanical or project-related task, but it’s really helpful to hear that you do. I wonder if others share that connotation?

      Thanks again for such a great comment!

  17. Hey Dustin, this is the first time I’m reading one of your posts. I like the way you write. Anyway, my husband and I just got married last year… we’re still newlyweds. I agree completely with keeping a “proactive” marriage. It’s really important to make time for each other, to do things for and with each other, and to treat each other with the love and respect they deserve. My husband is a top priority in my life. A marriage is something both people should constantly work at and continue to evolve as the partners themselves evolve.

    Thanks for your post!

    1. Thanks so much, Michelle! I’m glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope you stick around and become part of our awesome community. 🙂

  18. Seth’s the man.

    It’s frightening how quickly tomorrow’s priorities become today’s priority, especially with health matters.

  19. Thanks for asking.My wife & I have been together 44 years and married for 40 on the 3 rd of July.I am truly amazed and so happy to be able to shout it to the world.
    We have often talked about our very successful relationship and can pin-point one area that helped us tremendously. Let me share it with you:As a young couple we all struggle with power issues.Yes the who’s right and who’s wrong issues. Whether it be about money, the kids, work, the house, the in-laws, whatever.You know what I am talking about?
    Many couples struggle communicating with each other and learning to compromise. Well we did big time.
    We would often leave an argument with a sour taste in our mouths, yes both of us did.
    One night, during another battle of wits, we made a promise to each other,”Never to go to bed mad at each other,ever”.
    It led to many sleepless night over black coffee but, you know what, it broke our defense mechanism down to the point where we both changed and started respecting each others point of view.
    Getting along proved to be the best solution,always.We have not gone to bed mad at each other for over 35 years now.Do the math.
    Pierre & Pierrette
    Thee Quest For Perfect Health

  20. Been married for twenty years, married at twenty. Husband is a smoker and is overall unhealthy. Is on blood pressure medicine, thryoid etc.. he is overweight and basically isnt active at all. I dont know what to do. I take it so personal that he doesnt want better. or doesnt want to make the effort. He plays video games and watches tv.. I have turned into a nag I guess which of course doesnt get me anywhere. What do I do. What am I doing wrong!! Some advice would be great.

  21. You say do things to improve your life, well I did. I started going to school about four years ago. I have twelve classes left and I can no longer go. I was only twelve classes away from a bachelors degree in technical management and now I cannot finish. Just the other day I was offered a job that pays really well and because I do not have my degree I could not take it. Tell me what improving your life is really going to do. I am losing faith because I have made all the changes in my life that are suggested and I find myself losing out on more because of the steps I take to improve things. My marriage took a beating the whole time I was in school because I had to work towards my goal and sometimes my marriage suffered. This is not fair because I kept telling my husband that this would be worth it and now it is not.

    1. Hi Janice,

      Thanks so much for sharing where you are right now in what sounds like a tough time in your life. You didn’t elaborate on why you couldn’t finish your degree at this time, but it does sound like completing it would open up some exciting opportunities based on the job offer you’ve already had. I wonder if the company extending that offer would consider letting you start in a lower position while you finish the degree and prove your skills?

      You have had some tough things thrown your way, and your husband has stood by your side and supported you which is a big positive in the situation. I know you’re frustrated right now, but when you start to question what good it does to improve yourself, I’d encourage you to consider the alternative…how will your life look if you simply give up and choose NOT to improve yourself?

      You absolutely can and will find the success you’re looking for, and I hope that you will look back on these days and realize that you were able to push through, make a strategy to get what you want, and make it happen. I assure you that you’ll be very proud of what you overcame at that time.


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