Are you a highly effective wife? What does that even mean?! Well, the word effective means you’re successfully able to produce a desired outcome. Sounds good to me, huh?! A highly effective wife has a happy, successful marriage. Dr. Steven R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People covers habits of life that will permeate every single relationship of your life. Anyone who is highly effective (at whatever) has certain habits that make them successful. It doesn’t “just happen”!
I’ve worked on these 7 habits and seen marvelous results in several different areas of my life. I teach them to my children, use them in my career, and have seen changes in my marriage because of them. You can use these habits anywhere and with anyone and I promise you’ll be glad you did!
HABIT #1: Be Proactive
Covey’s first of the 7 habits to make a person highly effective is to be proactive instead of reactive. He calls it a paradigm shift. Ultimately, we are only in charge of our own attitude. This means I am responsible for my choices, my actions, my behavior towards others and life. His book teaches me that, no matter what, I have the freedom to choose. Rather than view myself as a victim of my circumstances I take responsibility for the person that I am turning out to be. It’s a shocker!
Instead of being reactive – “He makes me so mad!” – you can be proactive, – “I am in control of my own feelings.”
No one else dictates or controls my mood. The flip side of this is true as well. I can’t control my husband’s mood. What I can do is make sure that his sour mood doesn’t spread to me and ruin mine. I don’t want to react to his moods. I want to stay in charge of my own mood. Then, amazingly, it usually diffuses others’ grumpy moods. 🙂 One thing is for sure, with half a dozen people in our house this habit is an imperative one to our ultimate end result – a happy home. So, how well do you control your mood?
HABIT #2: Begin with the end in mind
Have a vision! Always keep in mind the main goal that you’re working towards. We all probably have this idea of our happily ever after. Have you ever taken the time to picture your marriage in five, ten, twenty years? It’s surprising to me how easy it is to lose sight of the main goal, the big dream, and get caught up in the everyday busyness of the hamster wheel.
The habit of knowing the end goals help you plan the daily actions and investments that they’ll take to achieve the big picture in the end. Know your priorities when it comes to your marriage. Begin each day with the end in mind. Intentionally invest in your relationship with small steps that get you to your envisioned future destination.
HABIT #3: Put First things First
In Covey’s 7 Habits, he talks about putting first things first. Brian Tracy also says, “There is never enough time to do everything but there is always enough time to do the most important thing.” Life can get overwhelming. If we look at all that needs to be done in our marriage, parenting, career and home it is easy to see why many women are just flat overloaded. Many times we can end up tackling the most urgent tasks and letting the important slide onto the back burner because they’re not on fire..yet.
How do we put first things first in our marriage? Communicate. Prioritize time together. Say no to some things in order to say yes to the most important things – your first priority.
I also like to use Eisenhower’s matrix to really zone in on what’s important versus urgent versus both or neither. If it’s not urgent or important (does it help get me to my end goal?), don’t do it! I want to clear out or delegate the urgent but unimportant things (how important is it that those wet sheets reeeeally get back on the bed tonight?) because I want to focus my time and energy on my most important priorities, like getting in bed at the same time as my man. 😉 These are the kind of habits that make my marriage better.
HABIT #4: Think win – win
Up until now, Covey’s 7 habits have focused on self. This habit is one that deals with our interactions with others. We’ve all been taught about compromise. Our parents made us do it with our siblings growing up. Why does this seem to go out the window in our marriages? Do you ever feel like your way is the right way because its how you’ve always done it and its always worked out well? Your spouse might feel the same way. Time to think win, win!
This isn’t lose, lose – that’s the wrong perspective. Win, win. If something works for both parties it is a win, win. You’re not losing just because you’re not getting your own way. So when we want something different it’s time to open up our perspectives and look at all of the different options we have. Is there a solution that we are both satisfied with? This takes out of the box thinking, communication, and the ability to swallow one’s own pride. Yet in the end, when both of you are satisfied with the solution it grows you as a couple and strengthens the bond you have as a united team.
HABIT #5: Seek first to understand, then be understood
Covey’s habit of seeking to understand before trying to make one understand you is one of the most marriage changing revelations!! Picture it. Your husband and you aren’t seeing eye to eye on finances, parenting, in-laws, you pick. You know how you feel and why you feel that way. But do you really understand why he feels the way he feels? Many times I’m listening to his words but mentally making my own points while he’s still talking.
Try this. Listen to absorb, not to respond. Let him finish without interrupting. Pause to process what he said. Rephrase it into your own words. This lets him know you’re actually listening and trying to understand him. It also helps because he can confirm that you do indeed understand or clarify if you misunderstand.
HABIT #6: Synergize
Synergy means that you work together as a team. Covey’s motto is “together is better”! This sounds cliche for a marriage. I mean, duh, right? But this can be very hard when you’re in the middle of a disagreement over something! You can feel like you are on opposite teams. Many times I have to make the mental shift and remind myself that we are not enemies. We are one team. Make the decision that you will work together with your husband to resolve whatever needs to be resolved.
Collaborate with one another in everyday life. Help each other out. Ask what you can do to help your husband, what he’d like you to work on, or how you can support him. These are all ways to foster synergy within your marriage.
HABIT #7: Sharpen the Saw
You’re a wife, mom, daughter, employee, friend. You burn the candle at both ends because its what’s expected and things need to get done! Well, you burn at both ends and you’ll burn out girl. Don’t work yourself to death. Sharpening the saw is a term for Covey’s 7th of the habits – self care. It is important to take care of yourself! In the grand scheme of things this will actually improve the health of your marriage. Taking care of yourself will reduce the risk of burn out. No one wants a midlife crisis!!
Get enough sleep, take care of your body by fueling it appropriately, enjoy some of nature’s Vitamin D, and drink plenty of water. Learn a new skill. Take a bubble bath to relax and rejuvenate. In 7 Habits Covey suggests making lists of things that will renew you physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Allow your husband to sharpen his saw as well for the health of your marriage.
Habits will Make the marriage
Even though Steven R. Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People isn’t a marriage book it will make major improvements to your marriage by helping you evaluate yourself as a wife and developing habits that make a great marriage. These 7 habits will help you improve the person you are as a whole. You will be amazed at how they affect your relationship with your husband and your interactions with others around you. Grab his book and go through it! You will not be sorry!!
Which habits are you strong in and which will you work to improve?
For more information on being a highly effective person, visit FranklinCovey.com