the helpless marriage: marriage as friendship (part 3)

Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of friendship in marriage. Whether you’re currently feeling helpless in your marriage or not, we all could improve our friendship with our spouse, am I right?

But one of the questions I’ve received a lot through the years is, “How can we do that? We need examples!”

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Wow, that’s a great question. And I think the answer to that question will undoubtedly be a little bit different for everybody.  But here are a few things that may help you discover new ways to improve the friendship within your marriage.

1. Find something in common you enjoy doing together.

Megan and I are about as different as two people can be.  Many of the interests and hobbies I have are completely uninteresting to her.  Likewise, many of the interests and hobbies she has are completely uninteresting to me.  So over the years we’ve worked really hard on finding some things we enjoy doing together.  One is that we work on this blog…together.  Another is that every year we read at least one book on the subject of marriage, and we discuss it…together.  We’ve also found some specific games that we can both enjoy…together.  Through this process we’ve both put aside some of our personal interests for the sake of our own friendship.  This decision helped us get through the challenges we experienced in 2013…together.

If you’re anything like us and you don’t feel that you have much in common with your spouse, take some opportunities this year to work on that.  You’ll both have to give up some things in the process, but the end result will greatly benefit your marriage.

2. Grow in your love and knowledge of God.

There are a whole bunch of One Year Bible Reading plans online.  Most people fizzle out somewhere around Leviticus.  Others keep going and learn a whole lot about themselves and the plan God has for their life.  Dare I say it, but these are the ones that usually have stronger marriages, too.

If you’re never read the entire Bible, start with the New Testament, then go to the Old.  Or if you’d like, find a reading plan that includes something from the Old Testament / New Testament / Psalms / Proverbs each day.  Or find some other Bible and/or Marriage study to work on with your spouse, together.  Taking daily, or at least weekly opportunities to talk about what you’re learning will help your marriage grow to a whole new level.

3. Talk with one another at least 15 minutes a day.

Some may think this sounds easy.  But we’re not talking about the, “Can you pick up some eggs at the grocery store?” conversations.  Nor are we talking about the, “The kids need to be here, here, here and here this week…let’s get on the same page and figure out who’s taking them there and when.”  Instead, this is REAL conversation.  This is, “How are you doing?  How are we doing?  How are the kids doing?  How can I support you this week?  What struggles are you currently having?”  These kinds of things and many more…for 15 FULL minutes every single day.

If this is something you’re not currently doing, begin doing it today. And continue to do it for at least a month and see what happens.

Some of you may be excited to dive right in…but some may not even know where to begin!  For those who fall into this 2nd category, here are some ideas to get some conversations started.  It’s not a list that must be followed for the challenge, just some ideas to help you out.  Who knows, 30 days with 15 full minutes a day may start a pattern that you hope to continue for many months and years to come!  So have some great communication with your spouse.  Be reminded that you’re “one flesh”…be reminded that you’re best friends.  Be reminded that no matter what happens in life, you’re going to go through it together.

  1. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
  2. Name something you’ve never done but would like to try. Why does it appeal to you? What’s kept you from trying it?
  3. If you weren’t in the profession you are, what would be your other dream profession and why?
  4. If someone gave you enough money to start a business of your own, what kind of business would you start?
  5. Think back to your childhood or teenage years.  What do you miss doing the most?
  6. Can you think of something you craved when you were young and were denied?
  7. What was the best part of your childhood?
  8. The one argument your parents had, that you try to avoid, would be over…
  9. If our house was on fire and you had a chance to grab only five things before leaving, they would be…
  10. What friend has most influenced your life?  How?
  11. What is an accomplishment you feel most proud of?
  12. What do you think is your greatest personal strength?
  13. What do you think is your greatest personal weakness?
  14. What’s the one thing you would want to be remembered for?
  15. What do you feel the most regret about in life?
  16. What fears do you wrestle with the most? How do you manage them?
  17. What makes you most angry (in marriage or life)?
  18. What three things do you like doing with me the most?
  19. Can you name three qualities that attracted you when you met me/got to know me?
  20. Whose marriage do you most consider to be a model marriage? What is it about their marriage that you most admire?
  21. Are there some times when a disagreement needs to be postponed? if so, when? How can we discern those kinds of times?
  22. What have you learned to appreciate about me that you didn’t know when we first married?
  23. Are you satisfied with the amount of time we spend together? The amount of time we spend separately?
  24. At what times have we felt happiest together?
  25. How much is each of us contributing to our financial health? (In dollars, or otherwise.) Is each person’s contribution acceptable to the other?
  26. How have we learned to cope with the normal, day-to-day irritations of married life? How could we handle them even better?
  27. Do we feel more emotionally connected than we did early in our relationship?
  28. How are we doing at keeping our marriage a priority?
  29. Tell me about a time when you felt really close to me.  What made you feel that way?
  30. Is our sexual connection satisfying to you? To me?

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ~Elbert Hubbard

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This is part 3 in a 3-part series on the helpless marriage. Read each post in the series at the links below:

Marriage as Friendship Part 1

Marriage as Friendship Part 2

Marriage as Friendship Part 3

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