I believe your marriage can be transformed with a small investment. With 40 minutes a week, you can go from unheard, unseen, and disconnected to feeling loved, appreciated, and understood.
The average marriage is starved from lack of communication. Couples talk, but they talk about daily tasks, common frustrations, and what it takes to make a house/family run from day-to-day. What is missing is true, heart-felt communication between one friend and another. Change this and most marriages will change.
If I were a marriage doctor and I could prescribe one thing to most marriages, it would be a minimum of four 10-minute conversations every week. At least every other day, a husband and wife should make the time to have a real conversation without distractions, with the television off, phones out of reach, and kids not present. If couples would make this a habit, their feelings of love, appreciation, and commitment would greatly increase. It would empower them to better endure tough times. It would make them feel more like a united team in parenting. It would positively influence their times of sexual intimacy.
A small change in action can greatly influence the average marriage, but it cannot save a troubled marriage. If a couple is experiencing significant stress within their relationship, more conversation might help, but they will likely need much more than a simple talk to overcome their problems. Where serious challenges exist, professional help is often necessary.
However, if a marriage is simply in a rut or if they are enduring the tough times of raising children, this simply change can greatly enhance their connection.
Here’s the prescription: Commit to a distraction free, conversation every other day. The conversation should last a minimum of 10 minutes. It’s acceptable for two of these conversations to happen at night, in the dark, before bed. However, at least two of the talks must take place where you look one another in the eye. (see: Three Things Husbands Need to See)
Four 10-minute Conversations
The key to each conversation is one thing–heart. What should distinguish these talks from the normal, day-to-day conversations is that in these discussions we are sharing our heart with one another. At times the conversation might be solely one-sided. In most situations, there will be a give and take. Whatever the form of the discussion, the point is that the spouses are baring their hearts to one another, letting the other on the inside of what they think, feel, believe, and desire.
These conversations do not have a consistent structure. You don’t cover the same topic every time or every week.
Here are possible topics:
Not every conversation will be life-changing. At first it can feel awkward and forced. However, if a couple will consistently attempt to share their hearts with each other, they will not regret it.
How to Get Started
The difficulty with anything new is getting started. If a couple is not used to talking intimately with one another, it can be a struggle at the beginning. That’s okay. Work through it. Having some talking points can assist a husband and wife as they begin this process.
If you want to begin talking more with your spouse, but you don’t know how to start, consider one of the following questions. Take one question and answer it. If you are talking, simply share your thoughts and feelings. Share what you feel. If you are listening, listen. Don’t interrupt. Don’t argue. Don’t debate. You can ask questions for clarification, but nothing more.
Here are some discussion starters:
How has marriage turned out differently than you expected?
What do you expect in the next season of life? (when kids go to school, when kids move out, when you retire, etc.)
When was the moment you knew you wanted to marry your spouse?
What do you miss most about a previous season of life?
How can I better help you?
What’s your favorite part of marriage that we’ve never talked about?
What currently brings you the most joy?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
There are no right or wrong topics. As long as a topic is causing you to open up your heart to your spouse, it can be a useful conversation. The goal is to have a better understanding of one another, to feel connected, and to have a deeper compassion for what is taking place in one another’s lives.
How Much Will You Talk this Week?
Consider, apart from these intentional conversations, how much will you talk to your spouse this week? In a real and meaningful way, separate from the basic conversations of day-to-day living, how many minutes will you likely spend in conversation with your spouse? For far too many couples, the answer is less than five minutes. They might accidentally get into a meaningful conversation, but life will quickly interrupt the dialogue and the couple will not return to the topic.
There must be a better way. Forty minutes this week could truly change your marriage.