Have you ever shared a thought with your partner and were laughed at? Or shared an idea, only to be told why it wasn’t a good one? How did that make you feel? For most people, it makes us feel like not talking anymore. No matter what the situation, no one likes it when they feel like their ideas and thoughts are not respected.
Each week, this blog presents news ideas and questions to help you grow in your marriage partnership. This week we will focus on how to discuss these questions with your partner. For the questions to have maximum impact, you should answer honestly. Honesty requires vulnerability. And vulnerability can be scary.
To help my wife and I talk together, we came up with the following guidelines. Why don’t you try using them?
- Start as individuals. On your own, reflect on the questions and write down your answers.
- Answer honestly. There are no ‘right’, ‘wrong’ or ‘dumb’ answers. Don’t try to come up with the right answer. Just be honest.
- Share your answers. When your partner is sharing, only listen. After sharing, thank one another for sharing.
- Don’t use your answers to attack you partner. Don’t use your answers to ‘tell your partner what they should think’.
- If you and your partner have differing opinions, receive what they say with an open heart. Believe that, like you, they also want a great marriage partnership. Do not critique, do not criticize, do not laugh, and do not make suggestions for 48 hours. Yes, that’s right. Wait 2 days before responding.
- Combine your answers into a unified answer.
Let’s give this a try right now. We’ll think about marriage partnership values and goals.
In a garden, before planting seeds, we prepare the soil with nutrients so that plants have a healthy place to grow. The soil provides nourishment for the seeds.
In a marriage partnership, the soil is our values and the seeds are our goals. Values are the beliefs and expectations we hold about marriage that keep our partnership strong and healthy as we work to achieve our goals.
Many couples, when asked to share their values and goals, blankly stare at each other. It isn’t that they don’t have values or goals, it is that they have never been asked to verbalize them.
This is interesting to me. I know of no successful business that doesn’t have a clear plan. Every city has planners. We plan our vacations. You may have even already planned what you’ll eat for dinner tonight. But marriage, umm….?
We want a harvest, don’t we? Yes! Then let’s work for it. Use the above guidelines to clarify your values and goals.
Values (Soil): List the beliefs you hold about marriage.
Goals (Seeds): List what you want from marriage? (Be specific!)
Having trouble? Here are some questions to help you discover values and goals.
- What comes easiest to you in your relationship with your partner?
- On what do you spend the most time in your relationship?
- What about your marriage makes you happy? Sad?
- What do you respect about your parent’s marriage?
- Do you have unmet expectations/needs? What do you wish for?
You did it! Now it is time to celebrate your hard work! Have some fun together. Grab a cup of coffee. Go for a walk. Have sex. Celebrate!
Coming next: Care