"You won't truly know each other until after you're married", my Dad said to us during one of our pre-marital counseling sessions.
Jarrett and I looked at each other with awkward smiles. What did my Dad mean by this? Of course we know each other... that's why we're getting married! We dated almost 3 years before our wedding, we had all sorts of conversations, spent hundreds of hours together, endured a few arguments and misunderstandings with grace and dignity. We knew each other's goals, plans, dreams and fears. We thought we knew everything neccessary about each other to affirm and confirm our love. Then we got married.
Still in love, still excited, still clueless...I had no idea that Jarrett had to keep the air temperature at 65 degrees in the house (at all seasons), as well as have every fan in the house circulating. I'm a 75 degree type of girl. He had no idea that I liked to eat in bed. I had no idea that he was such a private person and enjoyed keeping to himself, even from his own family members. He had no idea that I like to hold onto secret money that I randomly stash around the house- my "just in case" funds. Yup... finding out that we didn't know everything about each other was a big discovery. It was sometimes frustrating and confusing, but it's reality!
Each of us are so intricately and profoundly put together. We are walking, talking results of our communities, environments, experiences and personal biases- there is no way anyone could ever know all of us, because we are complex and are always evolving. Each season we go through changes us in some way and every experience we face develops us into different people. Change is constant and inevitable, so we must rely on our unchanging God to be the foundation and source in our marriages, because, let's face it, we aren't the same person we were 5 years ago and our spouse isn't either. We are always changing!
So it's no wonder that we can be married five, ten or even twenty or more years and still find there is much we don’t know about our husbands and much that they don't know about us. This, in part, could be because we are not intentionally active about updating each other about the changes we are going through: our private experiences, our thoughts on various matters, our feelings, our fears, our hopes and our long term dreams that might look different now then they did when we were 26. The hustle of life can allow everyday living to separate and distance us instead of using these experiences to ignite connection and revitalize our love.
Regardless of the reasons why people might be feeling disconnected from each other...maybe even like strangers in the same bed, it’s so important to keep the lines of communication and conversation open. In this way, you both continue to grow together as you're changing; rather than grow apart.
Be Intentional, Truthful and Vulnerable.
When you're dating, you have no filter. You talk about everything all the time with lots of enthusiasm because it is exciting to get to know the person you are newly interested in and desiring. We feel free to talk because the other person gives us their total attention, affection and affirmation. We look forward to listening to them, as well, because we want to be their confidant and prove that we are trust worthy. Hormones have a lot to do with the excitement we feel in a new relationship. The newness and the thrill of connecting with someone becomes our motivation for conversation.
So who says this has to stop once we're married? Yes, maybe our husbands become familiar and we also to them, but if our desires are still to prove ourselves trustworthy and to still be their confidants and biggest supporters, we can still find ways to have exciting conversations and connections with each other. Everything is a choice. We have to MAKE the time to converse and connect with each other in meaningful ways. As we unpeel the layers of our hearts and our experiences, thoughts and ideas, we will begin to discover that there is much to explore within one another, no matter how long you've been together.
So, to help us all in this mission for growth in our marriages and relationships, let's explore some “Conversation Starters” to get our words flowing.
Keep in mind that these conversation questions are not meant to cause division between you but to help surface new revelation within you. Keep the conversation positive and loving and make sure your spouse returns the questions so that they can benefit from your answers. Remember, there is as much you need to learn from each other as you might need to learn from yourself. Conversation is a two way street- it helps you learn about your spouse while also venturing into self-discovery.
Inquires to discover what your spouse treasures in you
• When we are 90 years old, what memory of me would you want to hold onto?
• What do I do to make you feel most loved?
• When did you know I was "the one" for you?
• What is it about me that you admire?
• What is something about me you'd like me to improve on?
• What do you think are my strengths and weaknesses? Any suggestions on how I can work on these areas?
• From your observation of me, what do you think my purpose is?
• What kind of prayers do you pray over me?
• How would you explain our love to someone else?
Inquiries to discover your spouse's personality traits and changes
• If you could have witnessed any historical event, which one would you choose and why?
• What character in the Bible do you most relate to and why?
• If you had the option to quit your job today and never worry about finances again, what would you do with your time?
• What is your biggest fear?
• If we could just drop what we’re doing and go do something fun, what would it be?
• Name one regret that you have and how would you go about making different choices if you could?
• What is your most earnest prayer- what are you seeking God for?
• What's something you'd like to try to do, but feel it would be impossible or too difficult?
• When making decisions, do you put more trust in facts or in feelings? Why?
• What is one of the most adventurous things you’ve ever done or would like to do?
• Which strengths in your life bring you the greatest satisfaction?
• What would you most like people to remember you for after you die?
Inquires for mutual growth
• What time of day is best for us to talk?
• What goals would you like us to accomplish in our marriage in the next year?
• In your opinion, what makes a great parent?
• What are five essential values you want our children to embrace?
• What can we do as a couple to help make positive impacts in our community?
• How can I love you better and in more meaningful ways?
• What can we do to improve our finances and meet our goals?
• Would you be willing to improve our prayer life? What would this look like to you?
• Would you be interested in participating in a marriage seminar where we can learn tools to improve our marriage and strengthen our relationship?
Inquires for marital goals
• Whose marriage do you most look up to? What is it about their marriage that you most admire?
• What about your parents marriage do you hope to implement or avoid in our marriage?
• What are five things you are most thankful for in our marriage right now?
• With so many marriages falling apart around us today, what steps can you and I take to ensure that we stay close as a couple, emotionally and spiritually?
Questions and conversations are just the first small steps. It makes no effect to discuss and then not do. Be sure to put action behind your new found discoveries. As James put it, "Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works"- James 2:26
Action, my friends, is the missing ingredient to so many issues that arise in our marriages and within ourselves. Don't be too prideful to do what needs to be done in order to impact your marriage and your relationships for positive growth and fulfillment. If you need to forgive, then do it. If you need a change of heart, then pray for one. If you need to do better, do better, if you need to grow up and mature, then do so. You'll be amazed at how God can radically transform a boring, stale or confusing relationship and cause it to thrive. Have faith, believe and love each other to the best of your ability. It all starts with a little conversation and an opened heart.
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