Aug 272014 7 Responses

Three Conversations Every Couple Should Have

Married couples do not talk enough. There are exceptions, but they are rare. A majority of couples fail to communicate on a regular basis and this lack of communication strips the relationship of intimacy, adds stress, and can lead to one or both spouses feeling unheard and unknown.

I’m always amazed at what a little extra communication can do to change the nature of a relationship. (See: I Can Say It And It Won’t Kill Us)

Many spouses, especially husbands, assume that conversations have to be multiple hours worth of looking one another in the eye and sharing one’s feelings. While that might be useful on occasion, meaningful conversation can happen in a much faster fashion.

The average couple could see dramatic improvements in their relationship with five extra minutes of conversation every day and one added long conversation per year.

Here are three conversations every couple should have:

1. The Workday Check-in (5 min).

Whether both spouses work outside the home or if one is out of the house while the other works in it, we need to talk every day to see how the other is doing. This conversation should be a quick update of what is taking place, what stresses are present, what changes have presented themselves, and what needs to be done to make the day go better. The work-day check in should be quick, yet meaningful. It shouldn’t distract from work getting done, but should be given priority so each spouse feels heard and appreciated.

The check-in allows a spouse to ask for help. If the plan was for the husband to cook dinner, but his day as taken a dramatic turn for the worse, he can ask for help and dinner can be ordered in. If the wife was planning on taking a child to an after-school event, but she is needed elsewhere, a plan can be made of how to help the wife while still taking care of the needs of the child. (See: Why We Don’t Have a Television in Our Bedroom)

The centerpiece of the workday check-in should be each spouse asking: what is one thing I can do for you to make your day better?

2. The Weekend Look-ahead (5 min).

Many couples spend more time together on the weekends. It isn’t as necessary to check-in with a spouse when you are with them. Instead of using five minutes each day to check-in, a couple should take five minutes to look ahead. On Saturday they can discuss what the weekend might hold. What chores need to be done? What activities do the children have? What hobbies might a spouse want to enjoy? Before the weekend starts, communicate what each spouse desires to accomplish and do everything in your power to make those things happen. If the husband wants to play a round of golf, but the wife wants to play a tennis match, find a way to make them both work. It may not always be possible, but start with a “both/and” mentality. (See: Two Steps to Solve 90% of Relationship Problems)

After the weekend is planned on Saturday morning, use five minutes on Sunday night to discuss the week ahead. Preview each day. Plan which meals should be eaten at home and which should be eaten out. Negotiate who is taking the kids to school each day and picking them up from activities. Get a broad perspective of the week ahead and do your best to help your spouse.

The centerpiece of the weekend look-ahead should be each spouse asking: what is one thing you want to accomplish and how can I help?

3. The Annual Vacation Look-back (1–2 hours).

Most of life is lived in the day-to-day so most conversation should be about navigating daily and weekly issues. However, on occasion every couple needs to discuss the big picture. Over time, habits are formed, routines are engrained, and functions take place without much discussion. This has to happen for life to work. Yet, if one spouse feels the workload is out of balance, they need a chance to communicate their feelings. If time is quickly passing and no progress is being made toward larger goals, a discussion is needed.

I’m a firm believer that each couple needs a break from family and routine at least once a year. An annual vacation is a must. One conversation on the vacation should be a review of the previous year—what happened, what didn’t happen, who did what, what worked, what didn’t work, and what needs to be changed? (See: It’s Not My Job to Read Your Mind)

At least once a year, the whole system of how a couple relates to one another and others, needs to be evaluated, renegotiated, and improved.

The centerpiece of the annual vacation look-back should be each spouse asking: what is one thing I could start doing to make your life better? (See: One Thing Great Couples Do That Others Don’t)

Three conversations. Five minutes a day and one two hour conversation per year can greatly impact a couple’s relationship. The conversations will not solve every problem, but they will give an outlet for a spouse to communicate what they do not like and to offer ways to make their spouse’s life better.

Most couples need to talk more. They don’t need to talk long, but they do need to talk more often.

7 Responses to Three Conversations Every Couple Should Have
  1. […] Unless you look back, you will not move forward. (See: Three Conversations Every Couple Should Have...
  2. […] Some of my favorite memories as a kid was on vacation with my parents. Some of my most fun times wit...
  3. […] The voice was right; I was running. (See: 3 Conversations Every Couple Should Have) […]...

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