Marriage is a juggling act of daily actions, responsibilities and obligations. The one-to-one communication beyond the activity is what enhances the relationship. Consider the Marriage Question-List. ♦
Love. Well, of course. But you’ve got to do better than that, you might be saying.
Certainly. While love is a foundation for a great marriage, love can fade or grow dormant, or wither away like the fresh bloom of a fragrant morning rose in its prime.
Marriage begins with two people as husband and wife coming together as part of what is actually a holy sacrament ordained by God and often celebrated before friends and family. As stated in Genesis, Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Even Jesus acknowledges the Biblical foundation of this special bond:
He said to them, “Have you not read that He Who made them in the first place made them man and woman? It says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.” – Matthew 19:4-6
Actually, What’s Love Got to Do With It?
Actually alot. God designed and ordained marriage since the creation of Man. The marriage relationship between a man and a woman is referred to often throughout the Old and New Testament (see Genesis 2, Deuteronomy 24, Proverbs chapters 5, 12, 18, 19, 20, 30, 31; Matthew 19, Mark 10, Ephesians 5, 1 Corinthians 7, Colossians 3, and Hebrews 13.)
What’s clear is that while marriage is a model of how God loves His bride (the New Testament Church), marriage is also to be an enjoyed source of satisfaction and fruit.
How are we doing on that front?
Busy Life, Tired Marriage
In our modern culture of actions and distractions, the marriage relationship can easily default to patterns of sterile repetition and harried activity. In fact, marriage is easily a juggling act of daily actions, responsibilities and obligations. Add in 1, 2 or 3 children under age of 5 and you’ve got a recipe for a slow drift between the once so engaged and loving couple.
It’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high and many marriages are on the rocks.
How does a couple, from their twenties through their seventies, get through this?
The Marriage Like-List
A couple of years ago I was introduced to a notion and tool my daughter and son-in-law call “The Marriage Like-List.” It’s a simple concept around a dual listing of practical things to do for the other spouse, which the other spouse “likes.” Whether it’s back-rubs or working out together or helping specifically with the children or chores, the point is to intentionally confirm and literally list out what is important to the other spouse.
And then to proactively and regularly do them.
It’s profoundly simple and easy; and it works. Can’t miss because the list is mutually generated and if wisely generated around the common “love languages” of words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch (Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages), then you’ve got a guaranteed winning combination.
The Marriage Question-List
In their natural growth and maturity – plus they now have 3 little children occupying the minor details and major themes of their life – my daughter and her husband have advanced the art of marital conversation. With an understanding that great marriages are proactively intentional, another very simple but powerful tool has developed in their relationship. It’s the Marriage Question-List.
The idea behind the Marriage Question-List is to have a list of deep and provocative questions that they can ask each other throughout the week or month, as appropriate. Here are some sample questions:
- What am I doing well this week to love you?
- What do you particularly need from me this week?
- How can I specifically pray for you today or this week?
- What is it that you think I need this week?
- What is your biggest accomplishment today or this week?
- What’s your biggest struggle or fear today or this week?
- What’s the source of pride and joy for you this week?
- What can I do that would give you the most joy?
- What is it that you think I need to stop doing this week?
The questions lead to good honest disclosure and discussion. They are wise and possess enough grace to not be too ritualistic or rigid in this practice. Sometimes the questions are dealt with weekly; sometimes several times a week.
The point is that they are conscious of the questions, which in themselves are profoundly selfless and thoughtful and loving toward their life partner.
One cannot help and be touched by the care and personal thoughtfulness experienced by their own spouse intentionally and sincerely asking any of these questions.
Try it and see what happens. Create your own Marriage Question-List and experience a shift in your own heart and in the heart of your spouse.
Are you seriously and specifically engaging your spouse?
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. – Colossians 3:18-19