The mountains in Colorado were breathtaking. The skyscrapers in Chicago were magnetizing in their own way. And my body was exhausted.
The last two weeks I’ve been gone more days than I’ve been home, so I apologize for missing a week on the blog. Thank you for your grace.
Although one of the trips was for work, I did have a few thoughts during my travels that I thought were worth sharing. But first, I have to share a picture of my morning view at our rental house in Colorado.
Isn’t it gorgeous?
I was there for a weekend with my high school girl friends for a bachelorette party. It was the kind of “party” that consisted of early morning hikes, relaxing in hot springs, doing yoga on the porch in the morning and laughing and crying late into the night. Heart-to-hearts don’t happen nearly often enough in the “adult world.”
All this traveling away from my husband resulted in me missing him like crazy and giving me a chance to reflect on a few things that have made us a strong couple.
DISCLAIMER: By writing this post, I am by no means indicating I have a perfect marriage. People often joke about that with me, which I think is wonderful, but I hope you know there is nothing perfect about any relationship. So please just take this as advice from one friend to another.
Strengthen Your Marriage This Week by Asking Your Spouse These 5 Questions
I found some of them in books, other blogs, through our marriage counseling, or just through trial and error. A few of them were recommended to us to be asked weekly, and although we don’t ask all of them every single week the following five questions are things I ask as my husband (and he asks me) on a very regular basis.
1. How can I show you I love you this week?
I’m almost always surprised by the answer. What each of us needs from week to week changes constantly, so while one week having all our meals planned and organized shows him how much I love him, the next might require a back rub, or an extra random text during the day to say I love you, or an evening deep into hypothetical blueprints for our hypothetical future home.
Ask this question and be certain you do whatever is asked of you. There is no shame in clearly communicating your needs, in fact it’s essential!
2. What have I done or said recently that bothered you and you didn’t say anything in the moment?
Ask this question, and then sit quietly and listen. Do not jump in to defend yourself, pass the blame or start an argument. Only listen to what they have to say and communicate that you will work on it.
Then take some time by yourself in the next few days to digest their comments and see how you can improve. (The great thing about asking this question is you can do it when you’re in the right frame of mind to receive the response well. This is much better than hearing it later in the middle of a disagreement or when you’re especially hangry).
I’ll give you a real personal example that I’m kind of ashamed of (but hey those make the most relatable stories right?)
There was a season of my marriage where I seemed only capable of noticing all the things my husband wasn’t doing. He wasn’t washing the dishes, cleaning out the car, vacuuming the floor, etc. etc. etc. (keeping in mind this is when he was in graduate school studying to become a doctor for crying out loud — I’m selfish and I’m working on it). During this season apparently I had a tendency to use a phrase that was pretty hurtful. When I was feeling especially frustrated at his apparent lack of action I would make a suggestion as I was leaving to go somewhere and say, “can you at least unload the dishwasher while I’m gone?”
Perhaps in my head I thought I was implying if he only did that I would appreciate it. But to him it implied his total incompetence when it came to being a helpful life partner. When this came up as a result of question #2 I was shocked that he felt that way, but I also knew he was right.
It was a comment I so often made subconsciously I never even once thought it was something that would seem hurtful. But this is why I adore question #2. Ever since he told me that, I’ve avoided that phrase because I know it’s not a healthy way to communicate my expectations, and I know it results in him feeling unappreciated. I would never have known if I didn’t ask that question!
3. What is something you wish I’d do or say more?
Sometimes this will result in similar responses to #1, but oftentimes you’ll uncover something new.
4. How has your time with God and reading your Bible been lately?
When you ask this question be sure your heart is in a place ready to express love and support. This is never meant to be asked in a way that would guilt or shame someone for not spending enough time with God.
It’s also beneficial to have a conversation before asking this question to set expectations. Does your spouse want you to encourage him or her in their spiritual walk? Is asking this question the most productive way of doing so or would a text reminder or sticky note be better?
Set the expectations up front to reduce the risk of the question sounding more like scolding. But if you agree to it, this is a powerful tool to hold each other accountable in your walk with the Lord.
5. Can I tell you a few things I absolutely adore about you?
The obvious key to this question is to have a list of things to praise them about until the point where they are uncomfortable. Make them wish you were done talking about them and then say five more. Remind them how amazing they are, and remind them they do not get to deflect the compliments or try to redirect them. They simply have to sit and receive your love and adoration.
After all, they deserve it! You’ll also find that as you’re listing off all the things you love about them it reignites your appreciation and love for who they are, and every marriage needs that.
Scan through the five questions again, and pick one or two to try this week. Be sure to let me know how it goes! Or if you have another question you like to use to strengthen your marriage, leave a comment so the rest of us can give it a shot.
Have a blessed week everyone!