Asking My Spouse These 2 Questions Every Week Keeps Our Bond Strong

My mother-in-law sent a text myself and my spouse this past week that contained this article. It was a great observation that many couples probably go through. I know me personally I have often asked my wife the same non-starter conversation starters. Even when I am really engaged in finding out about her day the opener really needs something.

Take a look at this article I have posted it below.

Hope you enjoy it too.

Arthur Poston Jr.


Recently, my husband, Marc, and I started testing out a new ritual. We are habit people and find that when we can put key aspects of our connection on autopilot — that is, we get them to happen without having to think too much about making them happen — we find each other more in the slightly chaotic, sometimes harried, often muddled, basket weave that is life.

For over a decade, we’ve carved the habit of a weekly date night into our family blueprint, amassing a dugout of equally delightful and reliable babysitters and teaching our kids that mom and dad time is the norm, no different than morning breakfast or nightly tuck-ins. It’s just what we do. This is simply how the Manieri family rolls.

Call us overly self-indulgent, but we find that after 13 years of marriage, we’d actually like even more couple time together (gasp!). Sure, we see each other every day, but the bevy of hurried, innocuous, and sometimes snippy interactions Marc and I experience throughout our busy day feel more like baton passes in a relay than anything close to a meaningful connection.

So we’ve started the practice of meeting once a week for tea (wine or seltzer works just as well if that’s your fancy). And rather than let the day’s headlines or our endless checklist guide our conversation (i.e. Did you call the roofer? Should I book the flight before it gets too expensive? Are you going to call the bank about those extra fees?), we anchor our interlude in two questions that have completely changed how we spend those 30 minutes together: “What would you like to be acknowledged for?” and “What would you like me to know about your life?”

Notice that these are different from “How are you?” or “What’s going on?” which usually elicit fairly standard and bland responses such as “fine” or “not much.” These questions require the responder to actually reflect, step inside themselves, and call something deeper to the surface. And when my husband asks me these two questions, the floodgates of my inner world literally break open.

What would you like to be acknowledged for?

For starters, this question immediately sends the message to me that the often thankless and mostly unnoticed work I do to keep our family and business humming matter to him. Being asked what I would like to be acknowledged for launches an internal inquiry that truly gives me pause. Hmm, what would I like to be acknowledged for? What is something I’ve done lately that deserves a little credit?

It’s not about praise or pats on the back, two things I care little about. In Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, I place “Words of Affirmation” at the very bottom of my list of ways I feel loved. (“Quality Time” and “Acts of Service” are tied for top position for me.) I don’t crave recognition or get a sense of elation when I receive them. But I do want to feel seen. The opportunity to say what I want to be acknowledged for, gives me the chance to feel known, noticed, relevant, and appreciated, and that has enormous connective benefits for our relationship.

External appreciation has tremendous value, but here’s the thing: the real juice actually lives in the way that speaking my accomplishment out aloud (no matter how big or small) allows me to acknowledge myself. I get to unearth and underscore my tiny triumphs for the sake of my own recognition and notice. I’ve asked to be acknowledged for big things — like when I was nominated for an award! — and seemingly small things, like how I held my temper with the kids when they couldn’t find their shoes and we were already late. Marc speaks his appreciation for my feats, and then we switch so I can do the same for him.

What would you like me to know about your life?

In my experience, this question has such a different spirit from “What’s going on?” It’s not asking for a laundry list of to-dos. It’s recognizing that even married people, who live their lives in parallel, have their own distinct worlds they move in, and it invites each other into those worlds.

“I want you to know that I’m really worried about my dad, and it’s really hard to see his health fail.”

“I want you to know that I’d like to start spending more time with my friend Erica, and I wondered if it would work for us if she and I met for a walk on Wednesday mornings before the kids go to school.”

“I want you to know that I believe Elizabeth is having a tough time with your travel schedule, and I think it would be really good if you took her out for dinner, just the two of you, this weekend.”

“I want you to know that I’m so looking forward to getting away together next month. I really miss you.”

There’s a level of revealing and disclosure that this question seems to tap into. It offers me the opportunity to search for an answer I probably haven’t been totally present too. It’s amazing how worry or inquiry or concern or anticipation can hum away in the background like radio static. And then we look right at it, actually take stock of our life and all the balls we’ve tossed in the air, and boom, it’s like someone has tuned the dial perfectly.

It’s not always groundbreaking. Sometimes I want him to know that I think the cats have fleas again, that he really needs to move those boxes into the attic, that I’m really tired of how much chicken we eat for dinner, or that I started listening to a new podcast that I think he’d love, too.

Not every conversation is going to have us baring our souls, but some will. The point is the opportunity, the invitation, is there if we choose it. What bubbles or is beckoned to the shallows gives us the chance to reveal a glimpse into our world neither our partner nor even sometimes ourselves knew was incubating.

It all boils down to this: I matter. You matter. And even if we experience feeling truly significant nowhere else in the world but in the company of our spouse, the practice of being seen and known (even just by one single person) can be everything.

 

Who Are Your Fellow Conspirators?

"My brother, here’s your WiRE for today ==>"

Who Are Your Fellow Conspirators?

For where two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I among them—Matthew 18:20

For many of us men, our default is go-it-alone. We prefer to work alone, make decisions alone, muscle through struggles alone, get credit for our accomplishments alone. Go-it-alone gives us control and allows us to avoid vulnerability. The problem is, our King, Jesus Christ, doesn’t think much of the go-it-alone approach, especially in the service of others. He didn’t go-it-alone during his time of ministry; he doesn’t go-it-alone now (John 10:22-39; 14:7-14). And when he sent followers to preach and do miracles, he sent them in pairs, so they wouldn’t go-it-alone either (Mark 6:7-13; Luke 10:1-12). Clearly this is important. But, why are pairs or groups such better units for service than is one man, on his own?

Well, the reasons are a few—and each is as compelling as the ask-for-help approach is counter to our nature. First, and most importantly, Jesus is uniquely present when two or more people join together in his name (Matthew 18:20). Moreover, two or more people, joined together, working together, in friendship and trust, are often more confident and more impactful, than is just one man (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). And, two or more people, joined together, who know one another, who pray together and pray for one another, are more supported and more protected (from sin and from opposition), than is that same man, on his own (Ecclesiastes 4:10-12; Hebrews 3:13).

He Calls Us Still

"My brother, here’s your WiRE for today ==>"

He Calls Us Still

. . . for all have sinned
and fall short of the glory of God—Romans 3:23

As his men, we’re called to be like Jesus. We’re commanded to love just like he does (John 13:34-35). That’s a tall order. It’s easy to feel less-than-qualified, what with all our faults and bad choices, both intentional and unintentional. In fact, it’s easy to feel totally disqualified. Our mistakes—we carry their shame, we try to forget them. But we can’t forget. So we hide them instead, hoping, at least, to appear qualified. But they’re always there. And the thing is, when everyone else is hiding their mistakes too, it can feel like we’re the only ones with failings. So, not only do we feel disqualified, we can also feel separate.

But our mistakes don’t separate us from everyone else. They actually connect us. Whether we admit them or not, they’re one thing we all share (Romans 3:23). Our mistakes make us human. They also don’t disqualify us from the call to love like Jesus. You see, Jesus knows our mistakes; we can’t hide them from him. And yet he calls us still. We must confess and repent the mistakes we’ve made—and try to make fewer going forward—but Jesus doesn’t give up on us because of our mistakes (Mark 2:17). And, in fact, our mistakes (and the darkness that follows) can actually prepare us for his call. They can prepare us to love. They can teach us compassion and humility. They can also give us the authority to speak, as men who’ve been through darkness and pain, and who’ve returned.

What Moves Your Heart?

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What Moves Your Heart?

. . . give, and it will be given to you—Luke 6:38

When we begin following Jesus Christ, he shapes for us new hearts—just as God promised for Israel: “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 4:17-24). These new hearts move more like God’s heart. They are not, however, all shaped alike. They still reflect our God-created and God-anointed individuality (1 Corinthians 12:14-20). Notice when you view tough situations—sometimes your heart is moved, deeply. Notice also—sometimes it isn’t.

You see, we’re all created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). But, as individuals, we aren’t created for every work. We couldn’t possibly be. We’re all called to help those in need (Matthew 22:39; 1 John 3:17-18). But, as individuals, we aren’t called to every need. Near his death, St. Francis of Assisi prayed for his fellow friars: “I have done what is mine to do. May Christ teach you what is yours.” The movements of our new hearts are one way God teaches us what is ours. For our hearts are made to notice, to care, to move more for certain people and certain needs: when their needs are met, our hearts are satisfied; when they aren’t, our hearts hurt with their hearts. So here’s the good part—when we become aware of the movements of our new hearts, and begin working ourselves to meet the needs of people who are ours to help, we increase not only their joy, but ours too.

Minimum Safe Distance

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Minimum Safe Distance

Let us then with confidence draw near
to the throne of grace—Hebrews 4:16

Have you gotten to where you stay at a “minimum safe distance” from God, for fear of what he might ask—what assignment he might put on your heart, what calling he might put on your life? Do you ever worry, if you allow yourself to get too close, he might leverage his position to press you to become . . . say . . . a monk in the mountains; or missionary to Africa; or evangelist at your work; or confessor to your friends; or something else, equally disrupting to your plans?

For many of us men, fears like these characterize our relationships with God. You see, we know the plans we have for ourselves—plans for good things ahead—and we trust ourselves to know what’s “good.” So, we’re wary of potential disruptions, even from the God we love.

King David wrote, though, it’s precisely when we close the distance to God that we actually discover what we’ve been looking for, all along:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

Not the “boredom of your heart” or “annoyance of your heart” or “frustration of your heart”—the “desires of your heart”—what you’ve always wanted, but haven’t found. The key, brother, is trust (Psalm 37:5). We must trust that the God of the universe might know better what is, in fact, “good” for us. And we must trust that he wills our good and knows how to bring it about (Psalm 37:5-6).

When You’re Just . . . Done

"My brother, here’s your WiRE for today ==>"

When You’re Just . . . Done

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding—Proverbs 3:5

Is there any belief you’ve simply gotten tired of believing? Is there any belief you’ve held onto, stubbornly, for too long now? We men are so good at holding onto things, even after they’ve shown themselves to be detrimental. Sometimes these stubborn beliefs are about God. Sometimes they’re about other people. Sometimes they’re about us. And, sometimes, it’s just time to change our minds. We can you know.

It’s not an easy thing to do, of course, changing our minds, changing our beliefs—but we don’t have to do it on our own. God will help, if we ask. All we must do is decide we want to change our minds—like the man who brought his son, the one who couldn’t speak, to Jesus. This man had real doubts about Jesus, and about what Jesus could do, but he decided he wanted to change his mind about those doubts . . . and he asked for help:

“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” (Mark 9:24).

Changing our minds—to align our beliefs with those of God—is one way we step out of our old selves and into our new selves. It’s one way we begin to become the men God intends us to become.