One of the areas I truly value in my relationship with my hubby is our open communication. Even in those early dating years, we would talk for hours. We talked about our careers, our dreams, our love of music, our relationship with God and so much more. I was always amazed that we could find so much to discuss. It was then we agreed to be willing to be transparent with each other.
Almost 13 years later, this continues to be one of the strongest areas in our marriage. Now, don’t misunderstand me. Although I am thankful we can talk so freely with each other; sometimes I didn’t want open communication. I didn’t want to hear what he has to say. Because to talk about and through our issues means dealing with some messy and uncomfortable areas. It means dealing with my feelings of anger because he can’t or won’t agree with my point of view. Yet, being willing to talk also meant working toward healing and growth. Meaningful communication meant working toward a healthier version of us.
Even though we talked about a lot, I realized there were a lot of assumptions I made regarding what my hubby thought, experienced, and needed. From this realization, I learned to ask these three questions.
Question 1: How can I pray for you?
Prayer has had a powerful impact on my marriage. Taking the time to pray for my hubby’s mind, heart, health, relationships and God’s purpose has been and is integral in my role as his wife. The times I wasn’t sure what to pray, I would dig into God’s word and talk to Him about what was in my heart for my hubby.
Although I would regularly pray for my spouse, I never thought to ask him how I can pray for you? For some reason, I just took this for granted. I remember the first time I asked my hubby this question, I was quite surprised by his response. The areas that he requested prayer were not the areas I thought to pray. Knowing what was in his heart helped bring us closer and helped me to have better clarity on what areas to include in my prayer time.
Question 2: How can I help you?
There are times in marriage that expectations shift, life is busy, and balance is hard to achieve. It can be juggling the responsibilities of a new job, adjusting to living in a new city, or just getting use to life as new parents. As a military family, we are constantly readjusting our home life whether it is preparing for a deployment or even how to be together once my hubby returns home. Regardless, these changes (even good ones) can leave one spouse feeling frustrated or feeling the need to carry the weight of the family.
As much as I think I understand my husband and can read his body language, I am simply not a mind reader. I don’t know what is going on in his mind. So I need to ask the question to identify what I could do to help from his perspective. And you know what, sometimes there wasn’t anything more for me to do. Doing more actually created more stress or only smothered him. At times help meant being still and simply being present. Regardless, I don’t try to assume I know what he needs. I just ask.
Question 3: How can I help improve our relationship?
This last question can be particularly difficult to ask.
When there are growth challenges and disagreements in a relationship, hearing how you can make improvements can be hard to hear. So, we just never really ask the question. Or, if we were honest with ourselves, sometimes the answer could hurt our egos. It is simply easier to assume we are meeting their needs and doing things right.
This question is not meant to be a pass to shame or to tear one another down. Instead, it is a way identify how you can be stronger together. Asking this question is an excellent continuation of “How can I help you?” You both discuss ways that your needs may have shifted due to changing life situations like a promotion, a new baby, or dealing with illness. So if we are going to continue strengthening our marriages, then we need to be willing to hear from our spouse how we can improve.
I have learned to ask these questions regularly throughout our years together. Sometimes I could time it right and I could receive my hubby’s responses without taking anything personal or reacting emotionally. Then other times—well, I didn’t. Either way, these questions have led to rich, honest dialogue that has helped us grow as a couple and maybe they will do the same for you too. Whether you talk about all the questions or maybe you decide to start with one, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through the process.
Cheering you on,