How To Go The Extra Mile in Marriage

Becoming a Better Wife | Difficult Marriage | Newlywed Advice

Is it healthy for one spouse to go the extra mile in marriage?

A few years ago, I heard a preacher talk about how to make marriage work. Specifically how sometimes, the more grounded spouse might be required to put in extra effort to keep a marriage growing.

The preacher was speaking from personal experience because for many years, her husband, who had been the more grounded of the two, carried the weight of their marriage.

Is it healthy for one spouse to go the extra mile in marriage? Here are imporant tips to reshape your thinking and help you wait when marriage feels hard

Listening to her words reminded me of the frustrations of my own marriage when I was newly married.

I worried when my husband and I didn’t care for the same things with the same amount of passion. The fear led to major disagreements because I (felt like I) was carrying the weight of the relationship.

A lot of marriages sail the same waters.

Couples fight when they feel like one person is going the extra mile to keep a decent relationship while the other coasts along.

Today, I want to offer a fresh perspective.

But with a caveat: This post is for wives who are in well-adjusted marriages. Abuse, abandonment and adultery are never part of the marriage package. If you have these situations in your marriage, seek safety, get help (from mentors, pastors or authorities) and live within boundaries.

But for the couple going through regular marriage problems, it’s important to adjust our mindset.

Example: the wife who wants more conversation might be the one to initiate connection and conversation, for the most part. At least at the beginning or for a season of time.

The husband who wants order in their finances might be required to put in some extra effort.

Obviously, the easy thing is for the other spouse to change. But a lot of times, change takes time and effort and we can’t throw our marriage to the back burner until our spouse changes. (See When You Are the More Mature in Your Marriage)

So we choose to go the extra mile because we don’t want a stagnant marriage.

In his book When To Walk Away, Gary Thomas writes

When there’s a marital impasse, usually one spouse has to be willing to be the change agent – and then to be patient as they wait for the other spouse to follow.

So here are a few things I’ve had to accept in order to go the extra mile in my own marriage:

1. Even when marriage is hard, I am not the only one going the extra mile

Sometimes as couples, we fall into “martyr mode.”

Where we recognize our individual sacrifice but completely ignore where the person continually steps up.

For example in our marriage, I am the planner.

It’s easy to get lost in my little details and all the things “I make happen” and fail to see everything my husband does (especially because he carries his burdens and sacrifices with much more maturity and dignity!)

So in a sense and in most cases, it sometimes comes down to caring differently, not caring less.

2. I can do what is important to us

Strong couples dream together.

Still the person with more clarity and passion in an area steps out of the boat first.

I used to think that just because my husband and I share a common dream meant we have to devote the same amount of time and passion to get the dream or habit going.

But that’s not always a reasonable expectation.

Right now I have more free time than my husband; he works a full-time job. I work from home and I am charge of my schedule so I am able to devote more time to the things we care about.

In the past, I’d make a lot of noise (mostly mental) about his seeming absence, forgetting that he was doing other things in our partnership. Like keeping a roof over our head, paying the bills and loving Jesus together.

As I’ve gotten along in marriage, I’ve come to appreciate the power of teamwork and partnership. (See Teamwork in Marriage: How it Compares to Submission and Leadership)

Now I know that being a good team player means establishing what we care about as a couple and then moving on it. Even when it seems like I am the first one.

3. We are gifted differently

Sometimes it’s not that one spouse doesn’t want to do something or that they wouldn’t want to be a certain way.

It’s just they are wired differently. What the other spouse likes will never be a natural fit for them.

Is it healthy for one spouse to go the extra mile in marriage? Here are imporant tips to reshape your thinking and help you wait when marriage feels hard

So as couples, we need to be grateful for our spouses, just as they are and be willing to extend the same grace we ourselves received. See Your Spouse Might Not Be Wrong. Just Different

4. How to make marriage work through “Iron sharpening iron”

Marriage teacher Mark Gungor says that marriage is like a mirror, placed in front of us to reflect the person we truly are. Not the person we wish we could be.

Someone said that “prayer changes things..and mostly me”.

In the end, going the extra mile is mostly about our growth. What a revelation this was for me! I thought when one spouse is wrong, the other spouse coasts along, waiting for their beloved to change.

But the truth is that for that marriage to survive, both people have to change. For the spouse waiting on transformation, she or he has to make accommodations, grow up, be brave, press into hope, develop more patience etc

James 1:3-4 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Disclaimer –  Abuse, addiction, adultery is not part of a marriage package. If you are facing adulterous, addictive or abusive situations in marriage, seek safety, get help (from mentors, pastors or authorities) and live within boundaries.


Are you wrestling with the overwhelm of new marriage and desperate for a step by step guide on how end the confusion, fussing, misunderstandings? Would you like to restore healing and happiness to your marriage? Or maybe you just want to understand marriage so you can love better, create the relationship of your dreams, God’s way. My book Blues to Bliss: Creating Your Happily Ever After in the Early Years can help!
Pick it up here Amazon I Barnes & Noble I PDF

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash


  1. It gets tough to do this. In fact, sometimes I imagine spouses feel that they are each the one going the extra mile. But I think this mindset of service is what it takes to build a successful marriage in the long run.

    1. i can see how that situation would develop where both spouses feel “martyrd-out”…not a nice corner to back a relationship into 🙂 So true that service is the correct way to approach it.Thanks so much for reading.

    1. Thanks Scott, glad these points resonate! Wow we don’t really see how our tooting and wrong focus invalidates our spouses and voids their strengths. Ouch 🙂

  2. Gaye @ CalmHealthySexy says:

    Hi Ngina – This is a very helpful post, with a lot of good points to consider and remember. The phrase that struck me most is “it sometimes comes down to caring differently, not caring less.” Wow, I wouldn’t care to think how many times I’ve considered myself “better” because I “cared more,” when in reality it was just “cared differently.” Ouch.

    1. Gaye, it’s such a simple idea yet sometimes hard grasp. I guess cos we are constantly in awe of ourselves.. 🙂 Am also still learning and growing too! Thanks so much for reading and sharing the post

  3. As usual, I so resonate with your words here, Ngina. I especially like your statement, “It sometimes comes down to caring differently, not caring less.” I was challenging my thinking on this very concept just yesterday and it made all the difference! Thanks so much for sharing this quality content with Wedded Wednesday, my friend. I always feel blessed to have you on board!

    1. Glad you do Beth. It’s doesn’t always sit right or feel well on our flesh, but sometimes that’s all it is. For me it takes lots of grace to walk that out!

      It’s always a pleasure and blessing to share in Wedded Wednesday. Thanks so much for hosting.

  4. Great post. I sometimes find that we are praying and focusing on God’s goodness and when my husband strays from our prayers I get frustrated. I forget that we are still learning, its not up to me to say he is doing it right or wrong. The spirit has caused him to come back and apologize and I see God’s hand/heart all over him. I just want to shout-Hallelujah..with staying focused and remebering we are allies and not enemies humbles me everytime. We are growing in our faith together and it’s up to me to forgive and be forgiven each time we stumble!

    1. I love the lessons you are taking to heart Pearl. I too have come to that place of accepting that it’s a journey, not an event (we are learning) and that God has not appointed me to shadow my husband 🙂 God’s got him. I am happy that you are seeing the fruit of it as you let go. How freeing it is to let go and let God! Thanks so much for reading and commenting, i appreciate you

  5. This is a great post! I would love for you to share it at my weekly link up, Thriving Thursdays this Thursday…Great points to remember!

  6. Thank you for this! This is something my husband and I are working on ourselves. I often get very frustrated with shouldering a lot of the responsibility with the kids and, for a while, I was a crap all the time and it felt like I never had a good thing to say to him. Since then, I’ve been real intentional about recognizing all that he does and how much he has changed since we married in 2010 and added three kids to our household. It is so important to lift each other up and support each other and I’ve already felt a huge wonderful difference!

    1. So glad you are seeing the difference! It’s not an easy turnaround to make but oh what difference it makes. So glad you chose different and are experiencing the reward.

  7. At first in our marriage I went all kinds of miles. Then I stopped going those extra miles because satan started to creep in and communication broke down. Now, I am forcing myself (not unwillingly) but willingly to continue to foster and nurture my wife. She is the best thing that has happened to me and sometimes satan tries to make you feel otherwise. So yes I go more extra miles that is needed.

    1. Lincoln, I admire your focus and determination to walk out the miles. The biggest challenge is usually getting back on track when we go off. You have done that. I know the rewards are plenty. Thanks so much for reading and sharing that.

  8. I have to be honest and admit too many times I’m selfish and don’t go the extra mile. I forget that marriage isn’t a race and something we have to work on daily. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

    1. So true kimanzi, it’s the little small things that count…not the major leaps or big hurried moments. I too need these reminders. Your comment was timely for me. Thank you for your honesty and adding value to the conversation.

  9. Going the extra mile shows care and respect to the other person(our spouse, friends, other relationships). It’s almost never easy but it’s essential when it comes to having strong and thriving relationships. Great post and thoughts!

    1. I like your thoughts Dan. It really does reveal how we view/how much we treasure the relationship. Whatever we value, we sacrifice for. Thanks for these thoughts

  10. I like that, “Prayer changes things…mostly me”
    Your post hits me hard right now as my spouse and I are going through a difficult time. I’m more of the “charge forward and FORCE the change” that needs to happen and he’s more, “Let’s see how things progress before me make any sudden changes”.
    I have to say, It’s driving me crazy!

    Not sure what’s going to happen, but I do know I’m being FORCED to change! Thank God for strength to endure, now if only I could do it with grace 🙂

    1. TC I just replied to another comment – noting how amazing God’s pairing up is. He seems to really like bringing opposites together 🙂
      I hear you cos my hubby and I are so different. Yes the real thing is the going through the changes/enduring with that’s the hard part!

      I’ll be praying for you.

  11. Great post, Ngina! My husband is definitely the more grounded spouse but over the years we’ve actually leveled out a bit and now we both going that extra mile. You are so right in saying “strong couples dream together.” That is certainly our story and achieving these goals and dreams we establish for ourselves is one of the most rewarding parts of our marriage. We are living proof that two is better than one :).

    1. Fawn, isn’t it amazing how God pairs us up! Two is really better than one 🙂 Thanks so much for reading and sharing

  12. This is so good, Ngina. Reasonable and encouraging and motivating. Too often we go into blame mode – If only my spouse could be …

    I’m much happier when I’m working on that speck – wait a minute, is it a log? – in my own eye rather than the log – i mean speck – in my husband’s eye. 🙂

    1. Ha! i see am not the only one that gets confused about the log and speck and their placement! 🙂

      Am also much happier when am working on me 🙂 all though my mind will sometimes try to tell me otherwise. Glad for His grace!

  13. I appreciate that you see things way beyond your years. Much wisdom… Just recently have I began to really think deeper into the things of others or “putting the shoe on the other foot.” Even if it isn’t even, who cares? Didn’t Christ do more for us than we deserve? Shouldn’t we strive to do more than our spouse? It’s not about a contest… it is love… Excellent post, Ngina.

    1. That’s true Floyd, it’s love, not a contest! i know i find that hard to swallow sometimes, got ways to go! Yet when i see everything in full context – Christ’s example – there’s greater chances for grace and motivation to flow.

  14. You have made so many good points, Ngina. We are gifted differently. The way we perceive life and its varied situations isn’t the same, and that’s how we become one so well — when we work toward it, rather than try to make the other person adapt to our own way of seeing/thinking/feeling/doing.

    Your “Martyr Mode” makes me smile. We have a little of that from time to time, and it’s always interesting that the person martyring himself doesn’t realize how pompous he (or she!) can act. Times of martyrdom come when we feel alone in our striving for our version of excellence. My husband focuses on small grievances, such as who didn’t replace the empty toilet paper … I laugh at his serious handling of the situation, but in reality, he’s no different from me and my “why can’t anyone else open the dishwasher and put the dishes IN it?” 🙂

    So many good things here, my friend! Thank you for illustrating them so clearly.

    1. That’s true Amy, the pompousness is totally lost to “the martyr”! And it’s never a pretty show 🙂

      I like your thought on “our version of excellence”. It’s important to recognize those moments. I know it helps me pause and temper my responses. Thanks so much for these great additional thoughts.

  15. Yeeees going that extra mile…..,av come to realise that as much as he is the head i need to be ahe needs a stronger neck and thus i should strive to help both of us achieve our dreams.I thinkthe times when husbands were viewed as the sole providers are long gone and teamwork is essential in all marriages.

    1. So good to see you here gal. I love that part of strong neck. it’s about partnership, it’s not a solo venture. Thanks so much for reading and sharing!

  16. My tip would be to keep a thankful heart. When we are looking for ways to appreciate him it is much easier to go the extra mile. Nice post!

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