I talk a lot about living intentionally — managing the direction our lives are going in daily. our marriages are more prone to coasting through life unchecked than almost any aspect of our lives. I say that because, hopefully, your marriage is your safe place. Hopefully it’s one of the few things you feel like you don’t have to work super hard to hold together. If that is the case for you then these questions are important because you need to check in. You need to make sure you’re both okay with the way things have changed. Because they probably have changed, even if you haven’t noticed.
Maybe that’s not the case for you and your marriage is super hard to hold together right now. If so, these questions might be helpful. It’s a good starting place to get you both at least close to being on the same page. Communication is so important!
Improving your relationships starts with you
This is a little disclaimer. We need to be mentally, spiritually, and emotionally ready for these types of conversations. Ladies, I cannot stress enough just how patient, humble, slow to anger and willing to understand you need to be prepared to be if you want to have this conversation with your husband. You aren’t getting ready to ask him to list all the things he loves about you. You’re asking for quite the opposite and hopefully, he’s going to be honest with you.
Now, there’s always the chance that you have been slightly impatient, prideful, quick to anger, and totally unwilling to understand at some time(s) or another in the past. Am I right? Let’s be real, we’ve all been at least a little unrealistic and, well I’ll just say it, crazy at some point in our marriages. So there’s a real possibility that he might be hesitant to answer honestly.
I suggest you pray about this for a while to prepare your own heart before you sit him down. Then have an honest conversation with him about how important your marriage is to you and why he can feel comfortable being completely honest and open with you. Be aware that you’ll probably disagree with at least some of his answers right away. None of us want to hear what we’re doing wrong and we’re automatically ready to defend ourselves. Instead, be ready to hold your tongue. After your conversation you’re probably going to need to ask for some advice. But you’re not going to your girlfriends or your therapist, you’re going to God first. More on that later. Let’s get into these questions.
Improve your marriage with these five questions
Is there anything you aren’t getting from me that you believe I should be giving you?
Marriage is tricky. It’s easy for us to expect that sacred union to make us entirely happy and be the answer to all our love problems. But marriage is not a solution to a problem, marriage is a promise. It’s a promise to love each other despite the problems and shortcomings – no matter what comes our way.
Marriage actually sometimes makes things more complicated if either of you doesn’t understand what needs should be met by your spouse and what needs can only be met by God. Sometimes we just aren’t looking in the right place, but sometimes we are falling short on our marriage promises and we just need a gentle reminder.
Your husband might tell you that you aren’t supportive enough. He might say he doesn’t feel like you forget his mistakes, even when you tell him that you have forgiven him. Maybe he feels like you don’t give him enough attention. Whatever it is, even if you feel like it’s completely crazy, don’t discount the way he feels. You disagreeing with him does not make his feelings invalid.
Make your response encouraging, but in very few words. Sit, listen, be humble. Ask him to elaborate and let him speak as much as he wants to. You might want to defend yourself or justify your actions, or the lack thereof, but don’t. Make a mental note of those things because you need to take them to God later. The best thing you can do is pray that God would humble you, soften your heart and show you how you can improve on the things your husband is sharing with you. On the other hand, maybe your husband really is looking to you for things he can only get from God. Pray about that too. Ask God how you can help your husband understand those relationship dynamics. More on that later.
Has anything changed in our relationship that you wish hadn’t?
People change. It’s an inevitable fact of life. As time goes on we learn, we grow, we have experiences that alter our perspectives and understandings of life. In a lot of ways you and your husband will grow and change together. But there are certainly things that will change about you and your husband individually that might be difficult for you both to adjust to.
There are some things that will change that you just won’t be able to go back to. If you’re husband is asking for something that you can’t give him in that respect, talk about it. Explain why you can’t go back to that but compromise about moving forward. If there’s something your husband misses that you can start doing again with some intentional behavior, by all means, I say give it a shot. We can easily start taking our marriages for granted over time. It’s never a bad idea to put in a some extra effort to bring back some of that early relationship feeling.
Is there anything I do that you don’t like?
What a scary question, right? Assuming you and your husband are both human, I guarantee there is something you do that he doesn’t like and vice versa. Now, let’s be clear here, that doesn’t mean that thing needs to be changed or else. I have a bad habit of leaving unfinished bottles of water all over the place and my husband hates it, but he isn’t giving me an ultimatum.
When I wrote out this question I was thinking more along the lines of something a little more serious. Maybe he doesn’t like the way you vent to him about his mom or that you don’t ask for his input on some of the decisions you make. If you ask your husband this question you might be surprised by what he says. It’s probably something you don’t think is a big deal or maybe didn’t even notice you were doing. But if he mentions it then it’s probably important to him. So pray about it and start trying to be more intentional with your words, or whatever it might be.
What would you change about our sex life?
If you know me then you know this isn’t something I talk about freely with just anyone, especially not the whole internet. But we’re all adults here and this is something that is important in marriage, so I’m going there. You’ve probably heard jokes about marriage and lack of sex and maybe in your marriage it’s not a joke, maybe it’s reality. It’s so important that you talk about this with your husband.
Do you already know what his response is going to be? Then pray about it before you ask this question. You and your husband might not be on the same page, but try to be willing to compromise.
What do you think we need to work on the most?
Get a sense of what is bothering him the most by asking him what is most imperative in his opinion. None of the things you’re going to discuss will change immediately. You’re both just people – likely living habitually, often driven by emotions and sometimes focusing too much on yourselves instead of each other. It’s life, that’s people. I think we get in our own way more than we even realize.
The things he says need the most work probably need that work sooner rather than later. This is about being on the same page. I’ve learned that marriage is so much about remembering that you’re on the same team. So talk with him about what can be done immediately.
The follow through
If you have this conversation with your husband, make sure you’re ready to follow through. You might feel a little defeated or overwhelmed by the things you now feel responsible for changing, but you shouldn’t and can’t do it alone. Take it all to God, because if you really want your marriage to improve you’ll need His help. God should be at the center of everything in your relationship. Pray about your marriage daily and always ask God to show you ways to be everything your husband needs.
Seeking advice from friends
I’m a firm believer in seeking wise counsel and I believe you always need to be diligent in choosing who that wise counsel is in your life. When it comes to marriage, I believe the fewer people you consult, the better. I don’t believe it’s a good idea to vent to my friends about what’s going on in my marriage. I know a lot of people who disagree with me on this one, but I’m going to share it anyway. Again, this is what I believe. It’s okay if we don’t agree on this.
Other people don’t love my husband like I do. They didn’t vow to love him unconditionally. When I vent to my friends about my relationship, they aren’t likely to forgive and forget the way I do. When I express frustration, pain, unhappiness (fleeting or otherwise), I stack all these negative thoughts about my husband in the minds of people who care a lot about me. They probably care a lot more about me than they do my husband. So when my husband and I have moved on from whatever was going on, my friends don’t move on as easily.
You might be disagreeing with me because your friends are super awesome, loving, forgiving, and understanding people. I have some of those too. I still feel pretty strongly about this. We are only human, your friends are only human. God forbid you find yourself in a situation where you might be considering separation or divorce. In those times you don’t need an unbiased person to weigh in with Godly advice. Your pastor, a christian marriage counselor, a mentor — someone with an objective voice in your life who places the Word of God above any feeling.
So, what about you?
You might be thinking, “What about me? What if I ask my husband these questions, compromise for him and promise to work on all these things and he doesn’t do the same for me?” Hopefully your husband will jump right on the ‘let’s improve our marriage wagon’ and play along nicely. But I know that’s not going to be the case for everyone.
There have been times in my marriage when I was feeling really strongly about something and my husband didn’t think it was that important at the time. Or he was so distracted by something else going on in our lives that he didn’t even think to check on our marriage or notice that I was trying to work on it and I’ve done the same to him. The tricky thing is our feelings.
There will be times you might be ready to dive into something and our husband might not be. You might be feeling so motivated and in a really good place of self-reflection and humility where you’re ready to just take on all the things. But maybe your husband isn’t in that place. I have learned that marriage, just like any other kind of relationship, requires so much patience. Again, we’re human, we go through this constant ebb and flow of emotions and we are dealing with different things all the time. In our marriage, we try to stay focused on God, individually and as a couple. But the truth is, we’re always either trying to stay focused, losing focus or working on refocusing. And we’re not always on the same phase of focus.
In marriage I feel like one of the biggest acts of love you can show your husband is to wait for him to be ready. Wives can be so pushy because we have that motherly, “I know what’s best for you,” kind of attitude in our relationships. But waiting isn’t the only thing you should do.
Managing your expectations
Again, before you ever ask your husband these five questions, you should prepare yourself for him to be reluctant to participate. Every relationship is different and maybe you won’t have this problem, but those many, many women out there who are facing a man who doesn’t want to talk about feelings, be prepared with prayer to manage your expectations. Some of your husbands are just distracted right now. Maybe there’s something major happening in his work life that is depleting him of emotional energy.
Whatever your specific situation, the most important thing to remember is that marriage is about love. To me that means giving without an expectation to receive. So I believe you should approach this as an opportunity for you to do something for your husband, not as an opportunity for you two to do something for each other. Chances are he’s going to want to reciprocate. But if he doesn’t, that’s okay. You can lead by example, humbly, with unconditional love. It might not feel like it at the time when you’re the only one who seems to be working, but it will still drastically improve your marriage. And when your husbands starts to realize that you are making the changes that he told you he would like to see, he’s probably going to start thinking more about what he can do.
Managing his expectations
Earlier I mentioned that sometimes we want something from our spouse that we can only get from God. For example, many people think that a healthy relationship is one that defines your worth. You should definitely feel loved, appreciated and wanted in a good relationship. But in some cases a person needs constant validation from their spouse to feel worthy. This kind of validation only comes from God and your husband will never find himself feeling totally complete and worthy from the imperfect love of you. This goes both ways, you could be expecting things from your husband that you can only get completely from God.
I think this is a hard area to sort through and figure out what should come from who in a relationship. Definitely pray about it, especially so you can have your own questions sorted out before you approach your husband with this conversation. Talk with your husband about expectations. If you need a little extra guidance, talk with your pastor or someone else who you trust to give Godly advice.