By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
I distinctly remember the early days of dating my wife. She would excitedly greet me at her door when I came to take her out. It was her charm and enthusiasm that won me over quickly.
While that has been many years ago, she still greets me with a warm smile and an excited, “How did your day go?” She is not feigning enthusiasm. She truly wants to know.
Not content to simply hear “Fine,” she presses for more. She wants to know about the highs and lows of my day. She shows genuine concern when I’ve had struggles.
She is also not content to have her day go unnoticed. She wants to tell me about how her day went. She wants to share the details of her day, from the highs to the lows.
We relish these moments together. She has an active life and always has stories to share. While I guard against sharing confidential information, I give generalities about how a particular Marriage Intensive is progressing. I might share about a poignant moment or a challenge I faced.
The common denominator for us is “caring conversation.” We show the other that their feelings matter. We convey that what is important to the other is important to us. This care mitigates against the times when we may have tension in our marriage. The moments of connection far outweigh any times of conflict, and we much prefer it that way.
While listening about your mate’s day may seem trivial, every caring conversation, strung together like a necklace of pearls, can add up to a very meaningful relationship. The Apostle Paul says it like this: “Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
What if the Apostle Paul literally meant we are to look out for—protect and guard—that which interests our mates? What if we are to know intimately what concerns them and are to spend time and energy listening to and being excited about their concerns and interests?
I’d like to invite you on a challenge: to engage in caring conversation with your mate for 30 days. That means each day you are to show you care about their concerns. You must, by definition, ask about their concerns and then follow them. You would keep track of how things are going in one or more areas of their life. In short, you cultivate caring for them.
To help you do this, consider these practical steps:
First, decide to take an active interest in your mate. Once upon a time you spent hours listening to your mate. You could not get enough of their conversation. Go back to that place. Reinvigorate your relationship with vibrant, caring conversation.
Second, develop a pattern of daily, caring conversation. Make this a part of every day. Ask your mate thoughtful questions about their day, considering what they have told you previously. Build upon recent conversations to enrich your interactions.
Third, determine to be a good conversationalist. Prepare for these conversations. Set aside your own agenda and needs to be fully present with your mate. Listen carefully, validating their concerns, empathizing with their emotion and offer wise counsel when asked for it.
Fourth, discover something new about your mate every day. Be curious about your mate. Consider your mate to be someone you wish to know on a deeper and deeper level and notice your intimacy grow. Consider them to hold vast layers you can enthusiastically explore.
Finally, dedicate yourself to kind, caring interactions. Hold your tongue when tempted to say anything unkind. Catch your mate doing things, saying things, even being certain ways that you appreciate. State your appreciation explicitly.
Would you like a closer, more connected relationship to your mate? Practice the above steps and let me know how it works. If you would like further help, we are here for you. Please send responses to me at [email protected] and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website and learn about our Personal and Marriage Intensives.
Publication date: October 18, 2016