Years ago, my friend emailed me 10 questions for Craig and me to discuss while we were away for our anniversary. Though we have not answered them every year since then, nor reflected on our past answers each time, we pulled them out when we were in Wimberley last month. It was amazing to see both the progress we had made as individuals and as a couple since 2013 (WHOOPS) and the few areas where we still struggle a little bit (or a lot, but whatever).
Since we went away, we spent some time revamping and adding to these questions so they would enable us to focus both on where we've been and where we want to go. We thought that if these twelve questions would be helpful for us, they may be helpful for you, too. One thing we love the most about answering these questions is that it gives us an opportunity to both encourage each other about the progress we've made and affords us a way to potentially bring up some challenging facets about our marriage or personal health. We never want to stop growing.
The Beauty and Pain of Growth
While we hope that you will be very encouraged during this process, the truth is that you may not like some of your spouse's answers to these questions.
Write them down anyway.
If you have questions about what your spouse is trying to convey, ask for clarification. If you feel yourself getting defensive (we've both been guilty of this from time to time) and clarifying questions aren't helping, it's ok to take a break or move onto the next question. But later, spend sometime thinking about what they're asking of you. Take it to Jesus and ask Him what He thinks about it. Read His Word. See if there's some validity behind your spouse's request. If there is, ask Jesus (and your spouse) what that might look like to improve or grow in this area.
You may find that these questions give you much freedom from angst about how to show love and provide relational security to your spouse. Maybe you've been trying to read her mind all these years and have still found yourself unsuccessful in pleasing her the way you'd like to. Perhaps you thought if you just tried harder in one certain area, he'd be over the moon. But, maybe it's been about something completely different this whole time and now (now!) after you've asked these questions, you see what his heart really wants.
I keep my copy in my Bible. Craig keeps his on his Notes app in his iPhone. This year, we're challenging ourselves to look at them more often so that we are reminded of ways that we can improve ourselves and our relationship.
- Try to do this away from your home and with your cell phones turned off to minimize distractions. You not only need your focus to answer these questions honestly, but you also need to show your spouse you are committed to actively listening to what he/she has to say.
- Write down the answers. You seriously will not remember them next year (or even the next day if you're like me). He should write down hers and she should write down his.
- Speak in love, both in the encouragement and the challenges.
- Listen in love. Be aware of any self-protection you're using and make sure it's a valid use of it.
- Keep your spouse's answers in a place where you will be able to visit them often.
- Set a date to revisit anything you needed to table at the time.