One of my favorite quotes is “good is the enemy of great.” Author Jim Collins made that quite popular in his book Good to Great. It’s one of my favorite books. Years ago when I first entered the world of entrepreneurship, a mentor shared this book with me. It is one of the classics in the business book world. Although the book centers around the business world, it also relates to our marriages. One of the most common traps of couples today is settling for a decent marriage when their relationship could be much more fulfilling.
Collins teaches in his book that there are certain qualities and practices of great companies, which enable them to go from good to great. There are also certain qualities which allow marriages to reach their full potential.
Here are 7 practices which can take your marriage from good to great.
1. Servant leadership
Great companies have people who put the company before themselves. Sound familiar? Great marriages have husbands who put their wives before themselves. It’s about being selfless and living out your marriage with a servant’s heart. Being selfless will take a good marriage to a great marriage.
2. Ride with the right people
In Good to Great, the importance of getting the right people on the bus is a cornerstone in becoming a great company; it is important in marriage too. And I’m not talking about swapping out your wife. No, I’m talking about the people you surround yourself with. Marriage is not to be lived in isolation, we need people around us to help. And we need the right people. People who are also striving to go from good to great in their marriage who will help you do the same.
3. Confront the facts
I’ve talked about knowing the state of your marriage union before. I learned this lesson when I thought our marriage was going great, but to my surprise, my wife didn’t feel the same way. We have to face reality when it comes to where our relationship is. To do this we have to create a culture where truth can be heard. When we can speak and receive truth we can confront the facts, and take the proper action to help us address them.
4. Seek to understand her
More than likely your wife will have one primary love language. Once you know that and understand the best ways you can speak her love language, you have to keep doing that. Don’t try to do so many things. Focus on the few things that really say “I love you” to your wife. In great marriages, the husband has a deep understanding of his wife and what makes her tick. And once he does, the love he gives her will resonate soundly.
5. Stop being so busy
We have to be living in the busiest time in history. Most of us have overloaded color-coded calendars. Collins says great companies have created a culture of discipline that makes “stop doing” lists more important than “to do” lists. For some of you the stop doing list may include putting in so many hours at work or taking work home. For some of you, it may be stop signing your kids up for every single activity that presents itself. Search your calendar and see how much of the time is dedicated to your marriage, then begin to remove the “extra” non-essential stuff. Watch how the increase in quantity time creates opportunities for an increase of quality time.
6. Use technology carefully
Technology can get a bad name with the way we are overloaded with it today. In Good to Great, Collins talks about using tech as an accelerator. Something to enhance what companies are already doing, not to create it. In a marriage, technology should be used to help a couple do something better, not replace something they aren’t already doing or aren’t doing well. So, be careful in your use of technology to enhance something you are already doing well with your spouse. Use technology to send text reminders and words of encouragement to your wife that you love her. Take pictures together, but not for Facebook or social media. Take pics to capture moments to share with one another. Use your calendar to schedule date nights and daily time blocks to spend time or use it to keep reminders of your wife’s favorites.
7. Grow better together over time
Good to great company transformations seem to be overnight and dramatic from the outside. But those on the inside know they are gradual changes over time. With marriage, it happens the same way. The happy couple you see today has been working on their marriage over time. They’ve learned the lessons that trials in a marriage bring. Don’t try to rush a great marriage and cut corners. Spend the time, have the tough conversations, be consistent, and serve your wife. Overall, be patient if your marriage isn’t the great marriage you hoped for today. Be consistent with the things you know will lead to a great marriage. Eventually, you’ll get there, it just may take time.
SOUND OFF: What are you willing to do to take your marriage from good to great?
Jackie Bledsoe is an author, blogger, and speaker, but first and foremost a husband and father of three, who helps men better lead and love the ones who matter most.