What a spouse should ask

February 02, 2019

I USED the past Christmas season to make my strategic plans for 2019. One area I don’t want to leave out is my marriage to Lucy. But how can I know what to do? Answer: I asked Lucy “What do you want me to do this year to improve our marriage?”

Notice I didn’t ask “What can I do to improve our marriage?” Not only would that trigger a wide variety of answers, I may wind up doing what Lucy doesn’t see as priority. Rather, I want to know what is near and dear to her heart. Hence, “What do you want me to do…?” In marketing terms, you listen to the voice of the customer.

I must admit that it took me some time to ask this question. News flash: men don’t want their inadequacies to be exposed. I was procrastinating because I was afraid that I won’t like what she has to say.

When you think about it, it takes courage, even vulnerability, to ask this question. But the alternative is to let our marriage go on autopilot, with nary a thought on how to enrich it. At worst, the risk is the slow death of romantic feelings and it may be too late to resuscitate them. A great marriage is intentional; it doesn’t happen by itself. We need to reflect by asking the hard questions such as this one.

Lucy and I were taking breakfast on New Year’s Day, our first together for 2019. It was just the two of us. There is something special in January 1 that evokes a determination to be better, to reach further, to activate dreams.

I was delighted that my fears were unwarranted. Lucy gave four constructive suggestions, which I readily agreed. I won’t divulge what they are. Suffice to say that now I have a better idea of her love language. After this conversation, I can translate these four suggestions into actionable and measurable goals.

Now it’s your turn. Husband, ask your wife “What do you want me to do this year to improve our marriage?” If you find yourself bristling at this bold question, consider the cost of not asking it. You will have drift, not direction, for your marriage.

Be vulnerable, lower your defenses and, if you must, brace yourself, although I suspect your wife will be pleased that you care enough to ask it. She may touch upon communication, physical health, financial goals and so on. Then work on them. Remember: in making her happy, you will be happy, too.

Wife, ask the same question to your husband. I know it may be more challenging for you. For example, he may find it awkward to share his feelings. Or he may saddle you with a list of “you must’s”. But this can give you a rare glimpse of your hubby’s inner world… and how you can minister to him.

I must add that a couple must establish a safe environment where such intimate feedback can happen without manipulation or devastation. This is grist for another article, but the key is to cultivate godly character, which includes grace, gentleness and service.

I know you’re reading this on February. It’s not too late. As long as 2019 is still young, ask the question. You’ll be glad you did. Know what your spouse wants… and be thankful next year that you cared enough to ask and to act.

For this Love Month, check out my relationship books Finding Comfort, How to Mend a Broken Heart, and The Honeymoon Never Ends, available in major bookstores nationwide. For more insights, check out my FB Author’s Page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/nelsondybooks/notes/