For the first years of dating and even the first months married, our arguments often were started by me. I am really great at seeing what is wrong, like most human beings and so I made it my point to let Steven know what was wrong. I gave him not only a list of what was wrong, but my own agenda of solutions he should try in order to fix things. It was my job to help and correct, as the human that knows him the best, right?!
Our conversations would many times go:
- He would share a challenge at work/in life
- I would say “You should probably try…” or “Have you thought of…?”
- And both he and I would become frustrated.
This happened until our conversations would avoid whole topics completely. He was unable to share areas of challenge for him and I felt left out and detached.
Over the last 10 months of being married, I have come to realize that my job instead of changing and correcting my husband, is to instead help bring out the best in him in three ways:
Only God can bring about true, life-giving change from the inside out. I may have ideas, thoughts, and suggestions but my view is very limited. And any idea that I may share does not mean that my spouse is at a place spiritually/emotionally/mentally to receive it. I need to be fighting for my spouse in prayer; prayer is the work. Prayer is submitting my humanness to God and asking him to do what he does best – changing hearts and lives. Not only is prayer a tool to fight for my spouse and others, but it’s also about a tool to do beautiful work in my own heart as it results in the surrender of my own pride at the same time.
Ask good questions.
As an extrovert marrying an introvert, I do a lot of the talking in our conversations. Naturally, as a female I talk much more about my feelings and emotions. Early on, this left me feeling disconnected from what was going on in my husband’s life and heart. In our conversations, I am learning to ask good questions that spark his thoughts and fuel meaningful conversation. Here’s some of the questions we frequently use with one another:
- What was the low for today/ this week?
- What was the high from today/ this week?
- What have you read that was impactful?
- What are you grateful to God for?
- What has your conversation with God been?
- What is God moving you towards?
- What will be challenging to you tomorrow/this next week?
- What are you looking forward to tomorrow/this next week?
It’s so easy to see the negative. We all struggle with negative self-talk. One of the most energizing things in our marriage is when we affirm each other and the character of God. There are two things that I seek to regularly affirm with my husband:
- Highlight character growth – How has he been growing to become more of a man of character and influence?
- Highlight character of God – How has God proven himself? What do we know about God that may speak to this season/situation of life?