When there are problems in my life, I often find myself running frantic trying to solve everything at once. Yeah...that is so not effective.
Here's what is: Focusing.
But it's so difficult to do when you feel pulled in so many directions.
So let's break it down.
Right now, if you're reading this, you want to improve your marriage. So for the next few minutes, you're going to focus on a way to improve your marriage and guess what? It's going to work because guess what you're going to do? YOU are going to improve. (Haha, I just used guess what twice in one sentence. I sound exactly like my almost 6 year old).
Since you can't change or control your spouse, YOU are going to find something to improve. What's something that you know you're not doing the best at? Maybe it's raising your voice, or using that nagging voice. Maybe it's not being considerate of your spouses time or their attempts at affection. I have no idea what is on your list but I know you can figure out something. We all have so many areas where we can improve.
Now, that you've figured out what YOU are going to do improve, you get to tell your spouse your plan. Why? A few good reasons.
One, if your spouse sees you changing all of a sudden, they might get suspicious that you're trying to get something from them. We don't want them to ever think that, but human nature tends to err on the non-trusting side (there is probably a legitimate word to use here instead of non-trusting but I'm just now sitting down at 9:30 tonight after being on my feet since 7 a.m. and my tiredness allows me to make words up).
Two, your spouse might be able to help you to achieve your goal faster. When you tell them your plan, remind them that you're human and that you're going to totally keep repeating your problem, and the best way for them to help is not to point out when you do, but to point out when you succeed. That way it's a win for both of you.
Three, your spouse may choose to change something too. They might not. That doesn't matter. What's important is that you are going to FOCUS and change for the better and your marriage will be better because of it.
This also works great with parenting. I've got an area I'm focusing on right now with my kids and I'm still making more mistakes than non-mistakes (again, brain too fuzzy to focus to use correct words here), but I'm recognizing now where I'm wrong instead of it just being background noise. Once I'm able to acknowledge each time I do it, it will become easier to fix.
Good luck out there. Marriages are worth improving for!