How to change your marriage in one week

I talk to couples from all over the world who want a stronger marriage, but most of them don’t know how to take the first step towards making it happen. Part of the struggle is that human beings aren’t designed to change habits very easily, so whatever you’ve been doing in your marriage, whether good or bad, you’ll probably keep doing unless something comes along to force you out of your routine onto a new path. I want to give you a roadmap for how to chart a new course in 7 days, because anything we do for seven consecutive days will usually become a new habit. 

It’s going to take longer than a week to transform your marriage, but one week is enough time to establish a new path. Think about it like this…if you were 100 lbs. overweight, you didn’t get that way in a week and you can’t lose all that weight in a week, but one week is enough time to start off in a new direction by jumpstarting your metabolism and creating some new eating habits. In short, one week is just long enough to get off the wrong road and start traveling down the right road.

I’m convinced that if you will consistently do these things every day for a week, you’ll have a completely new direction in your marriage by the week’s end…

couple holding hands

Photo courtesy of ShutterStock.com.

THE 7-DAY CHALLENGE: One week, four daily commitments.

1. Have sex everyday.

You husbands are already onboard! If this is the only thing you do, your marriage will still be stronger in a week. It takes more than sex to make a healthy marriage, but it’s impossible to have a healthy marriage without it. Even if you and your spouse aren’t in a good place right now and the idea of intimacy seems repulsive, do it anyways. Sex is a powerful force that will help you reconnect on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Take a minute to watch my short video on Why you should be having more sex.

2. Pray together every night. 

This one might freak you out a little bit, but I’m convinced that prayer is one of the most intimate and important acts a couple can do together. Even if you’ve never done it before, pray together daily (out loud). Thank God for all the good in your life, ask Him to forgive you of the mistakes you’ve made and be specific about the mistakes and tell him about your hopes and your fears. Pour out your heart to your Creator in front of your spouse and you’ll connect with each other, and with God, on a new level.

3. Say nothing negative.

For one solid week, you’re not allowed to say anything negative or demanding. If you don’t have something positive to say, don’t say it. Get out of the habit of negativity and nagging. When you slip up on this one, your spouse is allowed to call you out and you’ve got to immediately apologize and follow up with saying three kind things about your spouse. This might sound childish, but you’ll be amazed at how it can change the tone of your words and your relationship. For more on this, watch my short (funny and very true) video on How to “win” an argument with your spouse.

4. Spend one hour in conversation while all electronics are turned off.

We live in a world where it’s possible to be in the same room but in different worlds. You can’t have a meaningful conversation with your spouse while you’re texting with someone, watching TV, and working on your laptop. For at least one hour each night, after the kids are asleep, turn off the TV and all electronics and have conversation. Maybe you’ve forgotten how to do it, but you’ll pick it back up quickly. Talk about your day, your hopes, your dreams and anything else that comes to your mind. That seven hours of uninterrupted conversation over the course of the week will be fuel for your marriage!

For more ways to invest into your marriage, please watch our free video teaching series The 4 Pillars of a Strong Marriage check out our new book: “Marriage Minute: Quick & Simple ways to build a Divorce-Proof Relationship”

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68 thoughts on “How to change your marriage in one week


  1. Sherry

    Does talking while having sex with the TV off count? Seriously, I think we’ll take this challenge. Love my hubs, but we’ve had our DOWNS this past year so its worth it if it will make for a better/stronger marriage.

    Reply

  2. Kara

    I suggest these things to my husband ALL of the time and he just brushes everything to the side or argues on why he CAN’T do it. Starting to lose faith after 3 years…

    Reply

    1. christopher

      Kara, that’s the biggest part of any type of routine like this. In saving a marriage/relationship/friendship, etc, BOTH sides absolutely MUST be willing to do their part. If one side is not fully committed, these steps will be for nothing. Unfortunately, as a family counselor, one big rule is, in order to make any progress, or save anything worth saving, two people must be fully committed to the process. I wish you lots of luck and love, and will pray for you.


    2. Cristie

      Kara,

      I know how you feel. I have been married 25 years and struggled every step of the way. My husband never has time for any of this. He has always put “us” on the back burner. I asked if we could pray together, mind you, my husband is one of the worship leaders at our church…he will not pray with me. We went to counseling last summer and even the counselor told me that, “Y’all don’t have that kind of marriage and are a long way from it.” Really?! We are both born-again Christians and we can’t pray together?! When only one of you tries how do you make it work? When is it time to just accept that it’s not a marriage and walk away? Love and prayers for you.


  3. Jill

    I am not sure I agree with your 1st step. In
    Order for sex to be a helpful tool in your marriage it has to meet the needs of BOTH people. The need of the man physical, the needs of the woman emotional. I have been married 26 years this year and have recently learned what sex in a marriage truly is. For 24 years it was my duty as a wife and there was NO emotional connection except regret. When the needs of both partners are meet is when it becomes a successful tool.

    Reply

    1. Whiffy

      I couldn’t agree more and I want to add to this. I understand it is a “physical” thing for a man, but from the mouth of my husband, “If you are not emotionally connected to me, I cannot enjoy the physical.” So I think the communication, prayer, and understanding each other has to come first, or the sex will only be one sided or a Chore for both, and not a true connection. We have 6 years together, 5 years of marriage and are going STRONG!


  4. Marcie

    What if one is always willing but the other isn’t? How do you do that? In sex, in prayer, in everything? “/

    Reply

  5. Lori Jo Eleazer

    Ok Dave…………I am in! My wonderful husband and I are about to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We already have a very close relationship, but we both want more! Thanks for the challenge!

    Reply

  6. susan

    what if your husband drives truck and isn’t home much during the week? (usually only one supper/night home during the week)

    Reply

  7. Charles

    This actually sounds fun to do. My wife and i have a pretty good marriage now but what’s wrong with more communication. Were going to work on this. Thank you.

    Reply

  8. Shawn Nicholson

    My wife and I have read over this and are going to accept this challenge. Our marriage is good, we have been married 20 years, but we figure why not try to make it better! I will update you as the week goes by. This should be an interesting experiment for sure!

    Reply

  9. SyeJ

    I really want to try this with my husband.God has blessed us with a beautiful marriage and friendship, but I know even great marriages could afford to be taken to the next level:-) Thanks for the challenge! God bless every couple who takes the challenge! We need more great, solid marriages/relationships in our world.

    Reply

  10. Christina R

    Great idea! We do most of this everyday but we need to start turning the electronics off..

    Reply

  11. Elizabeth

    I am not sure I would go with sex everyday because for some that really is not possible. Circumstances are different for everyone. I say to make sure you are giving kisses, hugs, holding their hand just because. Putting your arm around them and pulling them close this does not have to be sex. Men have a hard time with this cause they believe that is what is going to happen. “Oh Sex” that is why many women avoid it cause they want sex but no a wam bam okay I am done. So what kind of sex are we talking about? Ours changed in the beginning we had a very sexual marriage probably too much we loved it though. That is one thing we do not have much of. The reason for the change is cause of chronic illness most do not plan on this. So we have had to adjust to ways that we can be intimate. Our time is important to us. We do have a good marriage and are apart of our marriage ministry in our church. We are going to be doing a serious of sickness in health. The other side of marriage couples don’t plan on. So yes have some kind of sexual contact everyday. You can hold each other longer, have long kisses. Do devotional each day and discuss it. Yes prayer is very important to pray together and to pray over your spouse. While in the car or the moment you feel there is something that needs to prayed about pray then do not question it. Thanks for the challenge also go to conferences retreats at least once a year if you can do tow that would be even better. Whether are marriage is in trouble or not. It needs refreshing. Have a blessed day

    Reply

  12. Maria Landry

    I love what you are doing! Strengthening one of the Blessed Sacraments and gifts given to us by God, Marriage! Thank you for your wisdom, encouragement and advice. Keep up the great work!

    Reply

  13. Candy De Guzman

    I will definitely try this one for this week :) I love reading your articles most esp in your facebook page. It’s helping so much. Thank God for giving the two of you as instruments for soon to be married and married couples.

    Reply

  14. Diane

    Been there, done all of this. My husband doesn’t have time to have a friendship with anyone except the TV. I gently encouraged him to take time away from me & the kids and find a male friend that would challenge him and hold him accountable…..nothing!
    I now work weekends, so I miss church, he goes, but I don’t have a clue about what he has learned from it. His bonding with our children is around the TV.
    We’ve been to the doctor to have tests done, he is physically fine to have sex, but the only way he can reach orgasm is if I do it by hand. There is no adventure, it is always the same, and I am the one who iniciates(sp).
    We have been through marital counseling before, things were good for about 2 years, and have gone back to how they once were.
    I’ve spent 20+ years in my marriage, but I don’t think I have it in me to do this another 20+.
    His idea of fun is dinner/movie, or sitting at home watching TV.
    My idea, hanging with friends, socially; dancing, hiking, camping. We are total opposites. When the kids were little I had them to occupy my time, now that they are leaving home, we find ourselves on different pages.

    Reply

    1. crystal

      Diane I’m going into year two of my marriage and my husband is the one who starts the process as you do and he hates it but I’m not sexual nor do I know how to be sexy that turns him on. He actual makes me feel unsexy, to be honest, when he makes certain comments.


    2. Kathy

      Dear Diane,
      My husband & I have been going thru something similar. I found out the hard way why. It had to do with online porn, a whore & Western Union. PLEASE feel free to contact me by email. I pray this isn’t what’s happening in your marriage.


  15. Michelle williams

    My husband and I have been doing this for a couple of days now and we seem closer. However, I’ve been having female problems that I’m gonna have to have surgery to correct, so, we haven’t been able to make love every night. But we decided to continue the challenge after I have my surgery. We also decided to extend communication while we make love because I tend to not communicate to Tonny what pleases me. And we agreed to also incorporate into the no negative talk about the other in public to also in private and we can’t say anything negative about ourselves. I have really low self esteem and that is causing problems in our relationship. If either of us say anything negative about ourselves, then when get called on it, like with negative talk about the other, we have to say three positive things about ourselves.

    Reply

  16. Anita

    I would love to have sex everyday, but we are both truck drivers for other companies, and at this point my husband is not sure if he loves me and we have not had sex or anything in over 5 months, I love him and want to save our marraige, but makes it hard when he wont hardly toch me or even have a date nite with me, as he states he needs his space, so frustered

    Reply

  17. Hannah

    Wish I would have had this to read 2months ago before he left. If he comes home we will be doing this.

    Reply

    1. Bridgette Douglas

      Trust God, your husband will be home and better than before. God said he will give you the desires of your heart. Ask God for a new husband, in the one you have or a new one all together. Let his will be done. Tell God your secret desires and no one else. You will be amazed, don’t give up. God did it for me, and will do it for you.


  18. Karlie

    I would LOVE to try this however, my husband has never really been the type to pray WITH me or out loud for that matter. We have been married almost 3 years and our first year was HORRIBLE! We got to the point where it was better and now, well, I’m not sure…

    Reply

  19. Mars

    Every marriage is unique and the guidelines are applicable for most marriages. Every step to change begins with willingness to change. Its important to invest time in knowing your partner, what he/she likes and dislikes and his/her strengths and weaknesses. There is a saying “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”. l can be ignorantly doing what my partner hates in a bid to please him/her. Changing a marriage starts by recognition for a need to change and taking of relevant steps towards the fulfilling the need to change.

    Reply

  20. Yesi

    My church challenged us last year to do that. Specially the prayer part was so awesome, we used to do it before going to sleep n those nights that he was working we did pray for each other over the phone and let me tell you! it was a life changing experience. Our marriage is in a better place, first thanks to Jesus and second the desire from both of us to save the relationship. Give it a try.

    Reply

  21. Lin

    All of this makes sense. It’s devised to stay intimate with on another. Wished I had seen this 15 years ago. When kids come in the marriage, the intimacy is challenging. Stay strong, couples. Thanks Dave!

    Reply

  22. james

    What if i do not live with my wife due to our call of duties that makes it only possible to be with each other for 3days and nights in a month?? I work far away from where my wife stays, please advise

    Reply

  23. A

    I can do all of this except number one. I agree with a previous poster that it needs to benefit both parties. I have a hard time being intimate with someone who purposefully causes hurt and is ridiculously selfish most of the time.

    Reply

    1. Melissa

      You’ve already failed the challenge. You couldn’t even type one simple paragraph without negatively bashing your spouse. Perhaps you should look at yourself, before pointing out all of their flaws?!?


  24. Dena McCord

    Think this is a great idea if my husband would be willing to have sex everyday. But I would be willing and the other steps are great too. Anything to salvage our marriage is a great idea to me.

    Reply

  25. blessed 316

    I have been praying for intimacy and connection with my husband for a while now. Yet nothing has happened but resentment over the past year and we have been married for 16 months and just had a baby about 3 months ago. I have been watching Joyce Meyer and in this last week in particular all have been about intimacy but intimacy with God and tapping more into his word. Now I get another tool, this just another sign and wonder from God that marriage is not something to give up or feel lonely in. God has blessed me with a husband even if we have to “learn” how to be married. Thank you, thank you!

    Reply

  26. Mindy

    Step #1 is a great concept. But in our case very difficult. My husband is 54, has high blood pressure and sever erectile dysfunction. Viagra and those products can’t be used due to the high blood pressure. He is married to a woman that would love to have sex daily or every other day. So the sex situation creates stress in our marriage. He knows I am not happy with that part of our lives. He is so frustrated that he can’t be what I want. I read him this challenge and it makes him angry and frustrated. He says there are many men his age and older that have this problem. Even some younger. Many situations in this world where it simply isn’t possible for the daily sex. I do think that cuddling, physical contact ….options such as that should be included in your step #1. at least leaves options for those that simply can’t have sex daily and doesn’t leave them feeling even more frustrated and inept.

    Reply

    1. M.B.

      Mindy, I would highly recommend you and your husband find a good surgical urologist. I can tell you that there is help out there for your husband. Drugs like Viagra only help around 1 and 3 men. Believe it or not, there are many other things your husband can try, including injections, vacuum therapy, and surgical implantation of a penile prosthesis. I know that might sound crazy or weird, but it is true, and many many men and their partners have experienced the joy of intercourse again this way. There is lots of clinical data and studies out there behind this. One way to find out more is here: http://americanmedicalsystems.com/conditions_treatments_detail_objectname_mens_ed.html
      Read up on the various treatments and then you can find a physician here: http://www.amsphysicianlocator.com/

      Good luck and God bless!


  27. al

    it would be great if you included a way to share individual helpful hint pages like this one with a friend… you have no SHARE to a friends email

    Reply

  28. RJ Oleary

    What if one spouse had an affair for several years and lied about it? It’s over now… We are together and in love, but, what now? The intimacy factor is damaged forever. The forgiveness is there, the trust is missing.

    Reply

  29. Sherry

    Again, this sounds good if it was possible. My husband has diabetes and the medicine that he is one has left him pretty much impotent. I get very little hugs, a kiss good bye in the morning when he leaves for work, another when he goes to bed. So much for romance. Now what?

    Reply

  30. crystal

    Let me first say that I want to try this but my husband just told me that I’m emotionally lazy. He doesn’t feel needed or wanted around here and that he’s to the point he may have to go else where to get it. Now, you know that broke my heart. He tells me I don’t have a sense of humor, he has to always entice me to have sex, and I don’t show him enough affection. He says I tricked him to believe I was one way before we got married. Then, tells me that I’m not use to someone like him and that he’s not my type. I’m so lost. What am I doing wrong?

    Reply

  31. Faye S. Walter

    Something that is hard to figure out is the right moment to call it quits. There are certain situations that are a lot easier to figure out than others. While if you’re mate has cheated on you and you’ve discovered that you will want to in most cases end that relationship. Some people will still try and make their marriage work even after one or both spouses have cheated.

    Reply

  32. sephra

    I would love to do the challenge but my husband and I don’t have sex. I am not able to stand it for there is issues there and he isn’t really able to half the time.so there really hasn’t been much of a point, but able to do the rest of the challenge.

    Reply

  33. cheryl smart

    What if he just doesn’t want to, I tried inviting him to go church with me but he won’t. But I do continue to pray for him and will continue until he see’s what he is missing

    Reply

  34. elle

    Step #1 made me vomit in my mouth a little bit. Have sex even if the idea repulses you…forcing that intimate part of yourself will totally want you to keep going at it. Every time I force myself to let my partner enter me, even though I’m just laying there waiting for it to be done, really makes us feel close. In fact I just like to play the xbox while it happens because at least the trauma won’t be so obvious.

    Sexual intimacy is the most sacred part of yourself that you can give to another. If your partner goes to town on you and knows you don’t want it, then there will be more problems. Emotional scaring, and trauma can occur from doing this and let’s be honest…ain’t nobody got time for that. How can you teach young girls and boys to save themselves for marriage because of the sacredness of intimacy and yet disregard it so much after marriage?

    Instead of sex everyday, how about just some physical contact? A look? a kiss on the forehead? sex is NOT the end all and be all for physical contact. Something special out of the norm.

    I’m going to finish by saying that more than one woman reading this has been a victim of rape or molestation. Making them feel forced to have sex is sickening. If their husbands can’t handle that part of them, then they need to man up or get out. Additionally, telling sexual trauma victims that they must force themselves to have sex just creates more feelings of rape and sexual trauma.

    I hope nobody forces themselves to have sex when they don’t want to because of this article.

    Reply

    1. Melissa

      That’s quite an injustice to your husband. Especially if you did have sex before you married him. If you always were up front and honest about never ever having sex, that’s one thing. But if you entered into a relationship that you had either led the other partner to believe sex would come after marriage or you were already having sex before marriage and then cut it off, afterwards, then you’re so wrong in so many ways. Refusing your spouse sex is, in my eyes, telling them you’d rather them go get it elsewhere. Not a single man that I know of is willing to go his entire adult life, sexless. And while sex may not be the be all end all, it is absolutely vital for a truly healthy marriage.
      1 Corinthians 7:3-5 3The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.


  35. megan

    What if your husband wont pray with you. My husband for example doesnt really believe that prayer will fix a marriage i do. He also doesnt believe that evrything in the bible is the truth but i do. I pray for god to open his eyes to his wonders. Have been praying for our marriage for quite a while now i trust god to answer my prayers but find myself exhausted and feeling like i am the only one trying. I love my husband and will not give up on our marriage . But i have been so hurt and heart broken over the past year that i am just exhausted. Thank you for the marriage page Dave it really does help and give hope.

    Reply

  36. PR (author and poet)

    To have a better marriage both must focus on their relationship individially with God. By constantly courting God and growing closer in our relationship with him, we both become likeminded and our hearts become 1 with God. Thus, our relationship with each other will stand the test of time. My wife and I have survived the tests of time, children, loss, gain and discontent. 30 years together has taught us that only God is the glue that holds us together! A little toleration from us both helps! Author and Poet, “Pernell Rodocker” (Heartfelt Friends)

    Reply

  37. meg

    my husband won’t have sex with me. Our marriage is going through a really difficult time right now, but he never wants me anymore.

    Reply

  38. Carmen Camacho

    I’m not sure how this would work for me.. My husband works nights and we really don’t spend much time together due to work schedules. The sex part probably we can do, but the praying part I don’t know. He has stop going to church refuses to listen to any one and just tells me he us no good. I have tried to say positive things to him but he replys with sarcasm. Which I’m guilty of that also. He has gotten deeper into porn, drinking and staying out late at nights. I, to be honest feel there is some one else but he says no. He commited adultery twice, and i have forgiven him. I can’t help it that at times I feel responsible because I pushed him to it. He.tells me he loves me to much to hurt me and doesn’t want to continue hurting me but he doesn’t want to let go of his family. We have 3 beautiful children 16, 13 and 6. Not sure what will happen but trusting God. That his will take place.

    Reply

  39. tl born

    Ridiculous. If it’s that difficult get a divorce. How many years of your life are you willing to waste because you’re too afraid and weak to be single?

    Reply

  40. Olga

    We are on day five. Our intimacy has been great. we have attempted to follow all the steps stated for the challenge. I am the wife and I am feeling like a love sick puppy dog. I do not get the same vibe from my husband. Perhaps it’s confusion, but I thought he would be chasing me in a since while doing this exercise. That’s not the case.

    Reply

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