4 Intentional Questions for Nurturing Your Marriage
- Rachel Baker Crosswalk Contributing Writer
- Published Feb 11, 2022
Just about this time last year, I realized that my husband and I were in a bit of a relational rut. Don't get me wrong; our marriage was fine and healthy enough to the outward eye; however, I noticed that we were having the same conversations on repeat. Every time we went on a date or spent some alone time together, our conversations always ended up circling around work. Now, my husband and I both work at the same church; while we're on different teams, we ultimately have the same goals through the work that we do. So, naturally, our conversations often drift in the direction of our current ministry projects, goals, and even struggles. It is great to be able to talk to my spouse about this sort of stuff; however, when that became all that we were talking about, I started to get worried.
Before we were in ministry together, our conversations ranged across a myriad of topics. We would dream together and make plans for the future together. Often, since we're both life-long learners and fairly philosophical, we'd wax on about all sorts of different theological and philosophical viewpoints. Our conversations had been rich and stimulating and ultimately nurtured our marriage; I desperately wanted to get back to that. If you've found yourself in a conversational rut with your spouse lately, here are a few suggestions and strategic questions to ask to break the ice and create intentionality within your time together.
Nurture Your Marriage with These 4 Intentional Questions:
1. What Does This Situation Demand of Us?
So much of marriage is organizing our lives around each other. We want to make time for dating, connecting at the end of the day, and just being intentional with each other. Add children into the mix, and the need to be organized amplifies ten-fold.
Recently, my husband and I had a little conflict when an unplanned situation popped up. Our son woke up early in the morning feeling unwell; sending him to school was out of the question. Both my husband and I had a day jam-packed with meetings and deadlines. There was a heated moment when we both doubled down, expecting the other to cancel their meetings and work from home. Who was going to yield? Whose meetings were more important? After a few tense minutes, we both realized that we were asking the wrong questions. Rather than asking the other to cancel their day, what we should have been asking was, "what does this situation require of me?"
When we sat down and did this with each other, we worked together to come up with a solution that allowed us both to follow through on our commitments and be home for our son. It required us to get creative, but ultimately, we felt seen, heard, and valued rather than tense, combative, or frustrated. Next time a tricky situation pops up in your relationship, press pause and ask, "what does this situation require of me?" Doing this can help your spouse feel valued and set a tone of teamwork in your marriage.
2. What are Your Expectations and Hopes?
The other day, I explained to my daughter that comparison is the thief of all joy, but on further consideration, I would add "expectation" to that statement as well. I can't begin to calculate just how many fights my husband and I have gotten into over unmet expectations.
Have you experienced this? Have you ever had an expectation of how something would go that went unmet? How did you respond to that disappointment? If you're anything like me, maybe you've sulked, become critical, or secretly cried in your closet - yes, yes, I'm not so proud to admit that I've done all of this. I don't want to be a critical, sulking mess when my expectations go unmet, and neither do you. No, we want to have God-honoring marriages, don't we? We want our marriages to draw others to Christ. We want to lead by beautiful example.
Thus, we need to nip the whole "unmet expectations" issue in the bud. To do this well, it can be helpful to communicate our expectations and our hopes with our spouse. Becoming a detective of our spouse and being mindful to ask what our spouse is hoping for in a particular situation can not only help clarify our needs, wants, and hopes, but it can also draw us closer to each other. It can help us learn from each other better. To be known and loved by our spouse brings such glory to God. So, the next opportunity you have, ask your spouse about their hopes and expectations, practice doing this together, and note the changes in your relationship.
3. How Did that Affect You?
A couple of months ago, I hit a wall. I was stuck in self-doubt and had experienced a couple of professional setbacks. For the first few days, I tried to stay positive and stuff down what I was feeling. Bad idea: Within a couple of days, I couldn't hold back my emotions any longer. I ended up having a complete meltdown. My husband was caught by surprise, wholly unprepared to respond to my emotions, because just days earlier, I had told him that I was "fine." I thought that I was fine, but evidently not.
As painfully slow as it may be, we're learning that in order to be intentional in our relationship, we also need to anticipate each other's emotions. We can help our spouses flush about emotions by asking questions like: "How did that affect you?" and "How are you processing through that?"
We can double down on this by letting our spouses know that if the way they feel about a situation has changed, we will still be there for them. We can help our spouses process through their emotions; what an amazing gift that is!
4. How Can We Move Forward?
Throughout the duration of married life, we will all inevitably encounter crossroads of sorts. We may end up at an impasse over finances, parenting, politics, education, careers, where to live, and how to engage with extended family. Sometimes it may seem that there are more barriers to a cohesive relationship than there are bridges. Indeed, sometimes marriage can present many challenges, but if we are to take Paul's words in Ephesians 5:22-33 seriously, then we're going to have to lead in our marriages as husbands and wives by first submitting to God and then to each other. As a headstrong wife to a headstrong man, I have to say that sometimes submission can be hard—my husband agrees.
Sometimes, we just want to do things "our way." Sadly, more often than not, "our way" isn't in alignment with God's way. Let's be honest, our culture and everything the world offers is often in conflict with God's way. But as Christ-followers, we're supposed to look different, aren't we? Likewise, our marriages should look different, maybe even "set apart." As we strive for this, it may be beneficial to verbalize what we need to be able to resolve an issue, conquer a problem and thrive in our relationship. If we don't know what we're aiming for in our relationship, we'll miss the target every single time.
So, today, I encourage you to spend some time with your spouse pondering the question, "how can we move forward?" And then, follow it up with, "what do we want our marriage to look like? What are our goals?" Doing this work together can create unity, improved communication, and deeper trust. This work is so valuable; you won't regret the time you spend investing in your marriage. Good luck!
Rachel Baker is the author of Deconstructed, a Bible study guide for anyone who feels overwhelmed or ill-equipped to study the word of God. She is a pastor’s wife and director of women’s ministries, who believes in leading through vulnerability and authenticity. She is a cheerleader, encourager, and sometimes drill-sergeant. She serves the local church alongside her husband, Kile, in Northern Nevada. They have two amazing kiddos and three dogs. Rachel is fueled by coffee, tacos, and copious amounts of cheese. For more on her and her resources to build your marriage, see her website: www.rachelcheriebaker.com or connect with her on Instagram at @hellorachelbaker.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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