While this was happening a few weeks ago my husband told me he wanted to talk to me more. And not just everyday stuff, he wanted to talk deeper “us stuff”. I’ve learned a lot in the three years we’ve been married and for sure, “Take him up on any offer he makes to talk about your relationship”, tops the list. So we set a day, picked a place, ate and talked, and had the best time together. He even suggested we repeat this date every other week. More talking and delicious food? I’m in.
The thing is, that date didn’t just happen. It didn’t just all work out okay by chance. We had to be really intentional about making it happen. And if your relationship is like ours, talking deep stuff can be kind of scary. I was nervous for this date. Usually deep conversations for us turn into emotions running high and walking away and arguing – so we’ve gotten a little wary of them. But this one went so well, it actually had a big effect on my attitude towards my husband for the rest of the week. So how did a conversation that usually results in a blow-out actually turn into both of us feeling crazy-loved? Here are the five things this conversation had that others didn’t…
1. Schedule it and stick to it
Before we got married I heard all the time about making appointments to be with your spouse, and I thought it was horrible. I would never need to schedule time with him if we’re usually together, right? But life happens, work schedules don’t mesh, we overschedule ourselves, and pretty soon we realize we haven’t had more than a few minutes alone together in a week. This time, we picked a date and stuck to it. We made it a priority, which makes the other person feel important. Maybe you can’t commit to a specific day each week or once a week just doesn’t work. Look at the calendar together and pick a day. Mark it down (our next one is marked with a star on my calendar at work). Commit to time with your spouse like you commit to your favorite TV show or coffee with a friend.
2. Give a heads-up about the topic
This might seem a little silly, but for someone like me who appreciates time to plan and think, this was a big factor in the success of this conversation. When these bigger topics just pop up, that’s when things tend to get heated and emotional. When I’m not prepared for that discussion I get defensive and prideful. But this time, my husband told me what he wanted to talk about days before the actual date. We didn’t talk about it at all in the days between, and the day of the date that topic was all I thought about. I tend to overthink, which is where my nerves and anxiety kicked in a little, but I had the time I needed to think through what he might say and how I might respond. I had time to think about how to word my thoughts and questions with respect and gentleness. And the result? Nothing got heated, no one walked away, no one got upset or defensive.
3. Cover it in prayer
This is something I don’t do enough and will start doing more often from now on. When I get anxious the one thing I know that will help calm my mind and heart is taking the worry to God. I prayed so much during the day of our conversation, on my way to meet him, and then we prayed together before going in to the restaurant because he knew I was nervous about how it was going to go. Friends, there is no better thing you could do for your marriage than to pray over it constantly. Marriage really does take three to work at its best, and God came through for us big time that night.
4. Turn off and tune in
We’re in a time where cell phones or iPods or whatever your device of choice is are practically glued to our hands. I’m not against technology but I do know that it can be more of a hindrance than a help when you’re trying to connect with someone face-to-face. Maybe it’s because we’re millennials, but my husband and I struggle with this. It’s too easy to pull out the phone to look something up, check a date, or send a quick text. Sometimes we don’t mind if the other person does something quick. But other times it’s annoying and really hurts the conversation. I didn’t even realize until after we were back in the car after dinner that night that neither one of us had taken out our phones once. I never even thought about it. We were tuned in to each other and our conversation to the point where we were hardly distracted by anyone else in the restaurant besides the occasional waitress visit. We were focused on each other and totally in the moment. The phones can wait. Turn them off and tune in to your spouse.
5. Speak their love language
Know what makes them feel loved and do what you can to make them feel special. Honestly this could be another post in itself, so I’ll just say this for now – knowing your spouses’ love language can be a turning point in your relationship. When we were first married we each read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and started incorporating it into daily life. What I loved most about this particular date was that I felt like my husband was speaking my love language (quality time and words of affirmation are my top two). If I had a love tank meter the reading would have been off the charts – and the feeling lasted for days. Even better, because I was feeling so loved by him it seemed that much easier for me to speak his love language throughout the week (physical touch is his main language).
My challenge to you is try at least one of these with your spouse or other significant person in your life. I would love to hear if it helped you have a more meaningful connection – tell me about it in the comments!