By Cindi McMenamin, Crosswalk.com
Every married couple could use a date night – at least once a month. But not to watch a movie together or discuss how the kids are doing or talk about what’s going on with work. That kind of conversation should happen regularly around your home.
The two of you need to connect with each another in a positive way. And that means revealing your hearts to one another.
Unlike a decade ago, the number one cause for divorce today is lack of communication. That means failing to communicate, communicating poorly, or just letting the emotional gap widen between a husband and wife from a failure to reconnect, can be absolutely fatal to marriages.
That’s serious. Set the time aside for a date night and connect with one another through some thought-provoking, heart-revealing questions that are aimed at drawing the two of you closer. Here are seven revealing questions to ask each another on your next date night.
1. What is your favorite memory that we’ve experienced together?
It’s possible the stress of life (or just this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year) has made you both forget a lot of the good times you had with one another. Issues in the relationship can also cloud our memories of the more pleasant times and cause us to focus on what we’re not happy with.
But when you two think back to when you first met, married, or the highlights of what you’ve experienced together, it can bring back the warmth of what you were experiencing in that season of life.
Try not to give a vague answer like “our wedding day” or “the day I met you.” Talk about the memory--what you loved about that experience, the details of what you remember, how you were feeling. Draw upon specifics and elaborate on them and you may be surprised at what happens in your hearts as you revisit those shared memories together.
Also, finding out what you each consider a favorite memory (especially if it’s something one of you had nearly forgotten) tells you much about what the other holds dear.
2. If time and money were no object what would you love to do?
Every couple had dreams when they started out. But the reality of life is that many marriages, especially at the start, had to face limitations like financial budgets, time restraints and the priority of the job and making ends meet (especially if a mortgage and children entered the picture).
It’s easy and unnoticeable at times to get into those “we can’t afford it” habits by the time you’re married 20 or 30 years, even if your financial situation has changed and your schedule has relaxed. This question is another way of asking your spouse “What do you still dream about?”
Few things can rekindle a marriage more than grabbing hold of a dream the two of you (or even one of you) once had and hoping in it and working toward it again. You just might find you are still on the same page or you’d forgotten what the two of you once wanted.
This question may also reveal to you a new desire in the heart of your spouse, or in both your hearts. New dreams can represent new adventures that can bring a needed spark to your romance. By all means, don’t discount the other’s dream or shoot it down by implying it’s unrealistic.
Dream with your spouse… it’s one of the things that will draw you closer to one another.
3. What is your funniest memory of us?
It’s very possible you and your spouse experienced more laughter when you first got together than you do now. That’s because before marriage, mortgage, children and the stress and pace of life, you were unencumbered and free to laugh.
But life gets serious and somewhere along the road we unintentionally lose our sense of humor. This question can shine a light on laughter in your life, especially if it’s missing and is needed in greater supply.
Your funny memory might be a show you remember watching together, or something your child said when he or she was learning to talk. Try to remember belly laughs and times you were hilarious together.
If you don’t have many you can think of, make it a goal to incorporate more laughter in your life. The Bible says “A joyful heart is good medicine” and it contrasts laughter with a crushed spirit that dries up the bones (Proverbs 17:22 ESV).
In other words, laughter keeps you young. It’s proven to lower your stress level, and overall improve your health (like “good medicine” – but naturally). You owe it to your marriage--and your personal health--to bring back the laughter. So find out what makes your spouse laugh by asking.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Jonathan J Castellon
4. What are three things about who I am that made you fall in love with me?
After a few years of marriage, we can tend to feel that our spouse doesn’t see us they once did--as the cherished, admired, capable, or totally-hot looking thing we once were (or at least thought we were!)
Hearing what made your spouse fall in love with you might change your idea of what they still think of you today. While most wives feel fatter, less energetic and not as desirable as they once were, husbands can feel less adequate as well, and may wonder if their wives still admire them as they once did.
Just thinking about this question can make you focus on the positive inner qualities of the person you fell in love with and married. Hearing their answer can make you strive to be who they fell in love with once again. (Start acting like a newlywed and you just might feel like one once again. And who doesn’t want another honeymoon?)
5. What encouraging words do you most need to hear from me?
Whether or not your spouse’s love language is words of affirmation, he or she still needs to be affirmed and uplifted.
When we know, specifically, what our spouse needs to hear from us, we can better connect with their hearts by being their primary encourager.
Sometimes the words we think are encouraging them are really not. For example, I used to think my husband needed to hear me say “Be careful” as he left on a trip or backpacking adventure with his friends. To the contrary, that made him feel like a little boy who might get lost or hurt.
He told me he’d rather hear his wife say, “Have a great time. Can’t wait to hear about it when you return.”
Ephesians 4:29 offers wise counsel concerning our speech to our spouses: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
That doesn’t just mean try to stop being negative or critical with your words. It means focus on saying what they need in order to build them up.
Don’t assume you know the words your husband or wife needs to hear on a regular basis. Ask your spouse to tell you and respond affirmatively, not defensively. Like the question about memories, focus on the positive things you remember your spouse saying, and reinforce those, or provide suggestions for new encouraging words you need to hear from each other.
6. How can I pray for you in this season of your life?
When you ask one another how you can pray for each other you can get a better understanding of what each other is going through--what you both struggle with, desire, doubt, or fear.
Yet, unlike asking your spouse “What’s bothering you?” (which could be interpreted as bait for a discussion of the “issues”), when you ask how you can pray for them, you’re taking them off the defensive and letting them know you’re concerned, not trying to fix something yourself.
Even if your spouse is not a believer, when you ask how you can pray for him or her, you are showing them that you care enough about what they’re going through to bring it to God in prayer. Also, they can feel safe that their answer isn’t directed at you--it’s directed at God--the One to whom you’ll be praying.
Praying with your spouse is ideal, but if that makes one or both of you uncomfortable, assure your spouse that you will take his or her concerns to your Savior and then check back to see how they’re doing and how God is answering your prayer.
7. Where do you want to see us in the next five years?
Now, try not to have expectations when you ask this question. If you are hoping for a relationship-status answer like “I want us to be closer than we ever have been, honey” and instead you get the answer, “I want to live on a ranch in the Midwest and breed wild horses” be open to what your spouse is really saying.
Sharing a dream or desire like that still includes you, even if you’re not mentioned in the answer.
It can also open the door to discuss long-term dreams and where each of your desires are rooted.
With a question like this one, you can discover if your spouse is wanting something new, longing for a different pace of life, yearning for a closer connection or content with the way things are. You can also discover which page each of you are on and how to meet closer to be on the same page.
No matter what the response, be loving and affirming with each other.
Remember, the key in asking and answering revealing questions is to open your hearts toward one another and connect at a deeper level. Be patient, supportive, and loving. There’s no wrong answer, only the opening of another door within the complexity of each of your hearts.
Proverbs 20:5 reminds us: “A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water, But a man of understanding draws it out” (NASB).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Ridofranz
Cindi McMenamin is a pastor’s wife, Bible teacher, national speaker, and award-winning writer who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and with others. She has authored more than a dozen books including Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, When Women Walk Alone (nearly 150,000 copies sold), When God Sees Your Tears, and When Couples Walk Together: 31 Days to a Closer Connection, which she co-authored with her husband, Hugh. For more on her resources to help strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.