On today’s #MarriageMonday, we’re talking about clutter. Specifically, cleaning up some of the “clutter” that can so easily accumulate in our marriages over time.

Jill: It’s spring cleaning time! Here in Illinois, it’s finally starting to feel a little warmer, and springtime is poking it’s head right around the corner. (Speaking of spring cleaning, I shared a practical cleaning tip on Instagram and TikTok recently.) But today let’s talk about spring cleaning for your marriage!

Mark: As time goes on, we accumulate a lot of “stuff.” That’s true in our everyday life, but it’s true in our marriage as well. It’s totally normal for us to have some clutter in our marriages, but it’s important that we don’t just leave that clutter there.

Jill: When we leave clutter in our marriage, it leads to conflict, sparks slow fades, and makes it much more likely that we let assumptions guide our interactions with our spouse.

Mark: Acknowledging your marriage could use some spring cleaning doesn’t mean it’s falling apart. But marriage takes work. We’re all human, and we all are growing. Each of us have areas we can improve on to better connect with our spouse, and support them. We keep our marriage healthy when we are proactive and when we keep our heart cleaned out.

What “Stuff” Should We Clean Up in Our Marriage?

Jill: At the top of the list is our Assumptions. So often in marriage, we get moving in our routines and rhythms, and we neglect to take the time for open conversation. As a result, we start assuming. We assume our spouse is content with our pace of life. We assume we’re on the same page about the plans over the weekend. We assume we understand what’s going on in their head or heart. Left for too long, those assumptions don’t help us for very long. (I shared a short clip on Instagram about this!)

Mark: The next item on the list that comes to mind is our Shared Vision. It’s important for us to dream with our spouse, and as life goes on, it’s far too easy for our marriage to experience “vision drift.” Just like a well-run team or organization, a healthy marriage should also have a clear vision both spouses are working together to pursue. Usually we aren’t too far off from one another, but a conversation about our goals and life direction can bring us back together, charting the same course.

Jill: I also think some clutter that can quickly find its way into a marriage is a lack of Grace and Forgiveness. Most often, this comes from our differences bumping into one another. Little frustrations can build up in our hearts and soon become big explosions. Some of that is internal work needed in our own hearts, and some of those things need to be put out in the open and discussed.

How do we do spring cleaning for our marriage?

Mark: So how do we navigate spring cleaning for our marriage? The first way to do this is through open, safe conversations. A safe conversation should include phrases like “tell me more about that” and “What I hear you saying is _________. Is that correct?” In fact, here are 25 conversation starters to help get you started!

Jill: You also may consider going through a resource together. We give a lot of great examples of helpful resources in this recent blog. Whether it’s a book, podcast, seminar, or something else, Mark and I are big believers that learning together is one of the best ways to grow in marriage. Moreover, it’s a great way to grow in the same direction, which makes a huge difference in the long-run.

Mark: Conduct a heart audit in your own heart. This doesn’t require two people–just one. What are you holding against your spouse? Where have you allowed bitterness to grow? What do you need to forgive? Forgiveness is a choice that you need to make to unclutter your heart. Anything that you are holding in your heart against your spouse can be cleaned up with God with this prayer: “Lord I forgive ____________ for ____________________. This is causing bitterness in my heart. I choose to forgive and place this in Your hands.”

Jill: You also may consider marriage coaching or a marriage intensive. You don’t have to be in crisis to invest in the health of your marriage. It’s much better to put the work in before your marriage even gets close to a crisis point. When it comes to doing a little spring cleaning for your marriage, leaning on the wisdom and outside perspective of others is very helpful!

Mark: As you are thinking about organizing and decluttering your home, we want to invite you to do the same for your marriage. Give it the time and space it deserves to grow. Don’t rely on autopilot to get you through. Intentional conversation and heart clean-up leads to deeper connection, and that’s what gets you through the highs and lows of life.

We’d love to know: What stood out to you? How do you plan to do some spring cleaning in your marriage?

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