As my wife of 36 years and I were having our “coffee time” yesterday morning, I asked her something that was suggested in a book I was reading (“How We Love” by Milan and Kay Yerkovich). It surprised us that we had never discussed this topic. Often questions like these provide us with a better understanding of our spouse, why they react the way they do, and even why we react in certain ways.
Perhaps you and your spouse have found yourselves simply telling each other about the events of the day. Or perhaps you find yourselves often talking about the same mundane topics that seem to never really change. How do we jump from carpool schedules into talking about our disappointments and dreams? One of the greatest dangers in marriages is getting caught in the routines and finding that our relationship has drifted from the exciting to the mediocre (at best).
The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect and commit to beginning different patterns in our lives. Often we need some sort of spark to move our conversations past the superficial, creating a deeper level of intimacy. Several questions can provide you with a better understanding of the most important person in your life — whether we are “just serious,” engaged, or married for 4, 14 or 40 years.
In most cases, we feel like we love our spouse, but that is not really enough.
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. — Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage
When you were a child or teenager, tell me about a time of emotional distress; a time when you were significantly upset; perhaps an event that was painful, scary, or hurtful.
It may take us several minutes to remember the situation. We often try to forget events like these from our past, but these events mold us into who we are today.
And here is an even more important question:
How were you comforted in this situation?
Who was the person who offered you consolation and relief? What was it that they said or did that made such an impact on you? Or was there perhaps no one there to comfort you?
Why Are These Questions Important?
We are all products of our family of origin. We naturally absorb patterns that we observe in our first relationships, especially those with our parents. For you or spouse, one parent may have been emotionally distant – or not there at all. These relationships (or lack thereof) also affect the relational patterns that we bring into our marriage.
So although Question 1 above is important to begin the conversation, Question 2 will tell us something about how our spouse developed as a person and perhaps why they overreact or ignore certain situations that we do not understand.