This is a guest post from Jousline Savra, Licensed Marriage Family Therapist
Hello Healthy Dads! I am going to share some of my thoughts and the experiences I have had with numerous couples over the last 24 years. Starting a great conversation with your wife requires your particular leadership as a man and husband in meaningful and fun ways that could touch your wife’s heart.
As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I am always fascinated by the fact that even though married couples have been together for a long time, they can still each struggle being transparent with one another about their needs and their internal dialogues. Sharing each other’s needs is the heart of a marriage. Sometimes marriage counseling can help get that ball rolling.
I often remind men they must continue to pursue their wives’ hearts like they did when they were dating her or wooing her before the marriage. Sadly this disappears with many couples after they are married. After marriage that intentionality, the planning and the practice of pursuing her heart must never stop. Getting closer to each other continuously is an important ingredient of a good marriage. Many couples don’t know they have to have honest conversations. My definition of honesty is being vulnerable. In particular some men view vulnerability as a weakness. As you age, each of you continues to grow and change inside as a person. This is simply a fact of life. It is really important that you continue to make space, time and stay connected by sharing the changes you experience with each other. This requires intentionality and a focus leading by you as men and as husbands. It does not matter how secure a woman may be, she still longs for her husband to lead!!
In order to experience amazing conversations, you must make a habit of frequent checking-in. I usually leave it up to the couples to choose the frequency of this. You could do this weekly, two or three times a week. A couple of tips for the following conversations, make sure that there are no interruptions, such as no kids coming into your talk, plan it well, and turn-off your cell phones and be strategic where you meet to have these talks.
Be honest and don’t hold back as you share. Here we go – you can start conversations with each other by asking the following:
- Discuss what is fun for each of you. What ways can you make time for just the two of you? This time could be your playtime such as a fun activity you do together. Once you’ve finalized it – discuss making a habit of regularly having a fun activity. This is not a one time activity. From time to time you can discuss and change the activities that are fun, or just stick to one that you both enjoy such as pickle-ball. Discuss your interest in this and your level of motivation.
- Is there something that you are holding back from each other? Discuss if there is one thing that neither of you are not sharing because it is hard to share it: you’re scared or you don’t know how to talk about it.
- Discuss each other’s love language. Are you experiencing any of the love languages from your spouse that deeply touch you. For those of you who don’t know what love languages are, the book “Love Languages” was authored by Dr. Gary Chapman many years ago. In summary, some of the love languages are; acts of service, giving gifts, spending quality time with her or him, affection or physical touch, and much more. Ask and share with each other, what are some ways that either of you would feel loved. Be specific. Be honest and don’t hold back. This is called intimacy.
- Discuss an activity you can do that is outside of your comfort zone – each of you may share what that would be. Discuss if there were any adventures you have done in the past and how the activities stretched you. Discuss the adventures that you have not tried but you want to. Take time in discussing your perspectives and see where this leads you.
- Make a dinner date, and during this time, discuss and create a list of crazy things you want to do as a couple. Write down your bucket-list crazy things to do. It is okay if following through your bucket-list may take a few years to follow through, it does not have to happen soon. This is different from #4.
- Let’s talk about sex. Sex is not a weapon: sex is different for men and women. Each gender views sex differently. Men view romance as a prelude to sex. Romance for a woman is a precursor to feeling cherished, honored, and loved. Women are wired to feel fulfilled by non-sexual affection. This leads them to feel closer, connected, and loved by you. A good conversation starter is to ask her honest questions about the steps and behaviors you can take as a man in romancing her and pursuing her heart. Then repeat back to her what you heard her say to you, and verify by asking her if you heard all that she told you. For men, switch to sharing what romance means to you, and more importantly, share what motivates you and draws you close to her, such as giving you compliments, respect or true admiration.
- Do you have a regular habit of praying together? Discuss the frequency of praying daily together, such as at the end of the day, or right before you go to bed. How would you feel about holding hands and praying out loud with each other as you finish your day? If this is hard for you to do, discuss what hesitates you to pray daily together or what is possibly in the way? Would you like to pray together? Would you be willing to do this daily for a month and see what you find out?
Lastly, remember to be patient with these seven steps, take your time, and followthrough. Practice grace with yourself and your spouse as you take these steps.