It is perfectly natural to think that all is well in one’s marriage when there is an absence of conflict or when marital arguments are kept to a minimum. Often times, some of us might be lulled into a false sense of security - thinking that everything is fine and dandy when in reality, there are issues that might not have been fully addressed.
How often do we take the time to share with our spouse life experiences that have shaped us and in turn find out why our spouse thinks or acts in a certain way? We do not have to wait till a major argument erupts before we take stock of what’s happened.
“We do not have to wait till a major argument erupts before we take stock of what’s happened.”
A heart-to-heart conversation between you and your spouse can take place anytime to ensure that your hearts and minds are in tune with each other. Here are a few ideas on getting the deeper conversations going:-
Pick safe topics to get the conversation started
Choose topics that are not controversial to make it an enjoyable and sustainable chat. You might ask your spouse about his or her favorite memories from when you were dating and why that memory or activity is special. Ask if it's something he or she would like to do again. If your spouse isn’t much of a talker, consider a casual starter question like, “What first drew you to me?” as you’re enjoying a meal or when commuting together.
Make it clear that it's safe to share anything with you
Do you communicate to your spouse that it is safe to tell you anything and that your intention is to be on his or her team — not to criticize or tear down? To get your spouse to open up to you, you’ll need to put aside personal agendas to prove a point or to seek change in your spouse. If you truly want to hear what your spouse has to say about his or her innermost joys and fears, you’ll need to assure your spouse that you are not listening to judge but are sincerely seeking to understand and better appreciate him or her.
Learn what makes your spouse come alive
If you find your spouse deriving lots of joy from a hobby, an activity or even a place that he or she frequents, find out why it is so to better understand his or her heart. Ask a simple question that goes something like this, “Would you be able to explain to me why you like doing this or going to this place so much?”
Ask the hard questions
Ask these questions to take the conversation to a more intimate level - “What makes you fearful?” “What has hurt you?” “What are the words that crush your heart?” “Do I say them sometimes?”. Take some time to also think about other questions that may be difficult for your spouse to answer but that could lead to a deeper level of emotional connection between the both of you.
The important thing to remember is to be silent and to listen with undivided attention. Resist the urge to fix things or come up with solutions. Be physically and emotionally available to give your spouse a comforting hug and a shoulder to cry on when needed. Let him or her know that you’ll always be his or her number one cheerleader no matter what.
“The important thing to remember is to be silent and to listen with undivided attention.”
To love and respect – these are two things that we need to give our spouse for a strong lifelong marriage. Change begins with ourselves. Take the first step and lead the way in achieving even greater emotional intimacy in your marriage.
Adapted from the Marriage Dance by Roxann and Bob Andersen ©2017 All rights reserved. Used by permission from Focus on the Family.
Life is a journey, and we all need a little help at times. Let our professional counsellors help you and your spouse build a stronger relationship together. Find out more at www.family.org.sg/counselling.