How do you insure both the little things and the large ticket items are discussed. Isn't it easy to let the minor irritations slide for the sake of keeping the peace? Well, that does work temporarily but over time resentment grows. Too bad there isn't a flow chart showing us if resentment has taken root?
Having mentored dozens of couples we find men typically brush the little things under the rug. It doesn't seem worth upsetting the relationship. If this is true and be honest men, do you not share things with your wife because it doesn't feel emotionally safe? And wives, if your husband agrees with this last statement it's your job to create an environment where he can open up to you without you getting defensive. If not, eventually he will grow distant.
1. Review Schedule for Upcoming Week
Besides the obvious value of ensuring we are communicating well about our schedule, it allows us to know important meetings coming up for the week that we can pray about for each other. Danielle does a wonderful job of sending a text before a big meeting that she is praying for me. She makes a note during our weekly check-in about these meetings. It is amazing how much peace it gives me when I get her texts that she is praying.
2. Discuss Hopes and Dreams
It is so important to know our spouses' dreams and listen to them as they describe their dreams. Some big dreams are the same every week (condo at the beach) while others change often (would like to lose 10 lbs this month or try a new restaurant). This process keeps what is important to our spouse at the front of our minds.
3. Provide an emotionally safe environment to discuss how each other has hurt, frustrated, embarrassed, angered each other the past week.
Here is the process. The husband should lead by going first.
- Pray out loud together for God to help you both provide an emotionally safe environment for each other by not getting flooded and defensive.
- Ask your spouse, "What have I done this week that has hurt, frustrated, embarrassed or angered you?
- Validate their feelings - When they answer, the tendency is to get defensive. Instead, say “Wow, I can really understand your perspective and why you feel the way you feel!” I am sorry that my action/response hurt/frustrated/embarrassed/angered you. I love you and would not intentionally hurt you". Make sure your tone and body language are compassionate and not defensive. Their feelings are real even though you might think they are not justified.
- Ask your spouse what they wished you would have done differently.
- Either say I will work hard to do that next time. If you feel it will be difficult to do that next time, suggest an alternative. The key is jointly coming up with a solution.
- After the husband finishes this process, then the wife starts the process.
Remember this process takes time to get good at and can be hard the first few times. Be patient and persistent. The reward is you will actually feel closer afterward if done with compassion and issues will not build on each other over time.
4. Finish with discussing what your spouse did well the past week.
This helps us focus on the positive attributes and actions of our spouse. This is very important as our brain wants to focus on the negatives and this helps train our brain to focus on the positives.