The Importance of Deep Conversations in your Marriage
I must admit, I love the movie “Miss Congeniality.” Sandra Bullock plays the role of an undercover police officer at the Miss USA pageant. It is a great movie, but there is one scene near the end of the movie that I’ve been replaying in my head. It’s down to the top five contestants. Each one is asked a question to see how well they think on their feet. There is one especially sweet and naive contestant who is given the following prompt, “Describe your perfect date.” She ponders the question for a moment, then smiles and replies, “April 25th … it’s not too hot or too cold, all you need is a light jacket.” Ha! I love her innocent answer and obviously, so do the judges because she is eventually crowned Miss USA 😊! Then Sandra Bullock foils the bad guys plan and “world peace,” which is every contestant’s goal, is achieved! Happy Ending! If you haven’t ever watched this movie, give it a look.
If I were posed the same question, “Describe your perfect date,” my answer would be slightly more relevant.
My perfect date would be dinner with my husband in a quiet restaurant with a small table for two with seating arranged across from each other. Candlelight would be nice, but not required. The pace of the meal would be slow and the mood in the room easy. The wait staff would be attentive but not over solicitous. The food would be good, but not extraordinaire. I am there with my husband and our conversation is the main course.
The conversation would flow naturally starting with a catch up of events of who, what and where. But the conversation would quickly deepen into the whys. I love the “whys!” When my husband tells me he enjoyed his day, I want to know why. When he is frustrated by a conversation with a colleague, I want to hear the details. I truly do desire the reason why the conversation was frustrating. His answers can’t be, “yes” or “no.” He must take time to unwrap and explain. I am all ears – catching every word that he speaks and storing them away in my heart. I call these conversations “soul bearing” conversations. I love them! They are as important to me as dare devil bike escapades are to Jody. (https://wordwashedwife.com/blog/2018/7/9/the-importance-of-recreational-companionship-in-your-marriage)When we spend 30 minutes on the back porch in the morning over breakfast or on the couch in the evening discussing the whys in his life, my love tank is filled to over-flowing! Our connection to each other is secure.
I do not believe I am unusual in this desire. Many women that I counsel about the state of their marriage long for these same interactions with their husbands. Per Dr. Willard Harley, in His Needs, Her Needs, this is in the top five need list for almost all women surveyed. The need for intimate conversation is essential for women to feel safe, loved and important to their spouses. Conversation is not something that comes naturally to most men, but it is a skill that can be developed. As a communication specialist, I think I am qualified to offer a little help. As a wife of 32 years to a naturally introverted engineer, I know I can 😊!
Tips to creating deeper conversations:
Create time for intimacy!
In order for a soul nourishing conversation to occur, you must create 10-15 minutes of wiggle room in your day. You cannot always run from point A to point B and expect the conversational love tank to be filled. Slow down! Allow for some margin in your day. If you are in the season of raising small kids, set the alarm and get up 20 minutes earlier than the babies and sip coffee together and discuss your needs/prayer requests for that day. And if a baby wakes in the middle of the night, this can become a great time for both Mom and Dad to attend to each other and have heart-felt discussions. Now, I may be remembering these days with too much nostalgia, so forgive me and stop laughing. But, don’t miss my point. In every season of life, you must set aside time for meaningful conversation with your spouse if you want to continue to build your friendship and connection. I love the statement, “It’s not about having time, but rather making it!” Turn off the Netflix binge de jour and talk with your spouse! Husbands, in taking effort to deepen your conversation, you tell your wife that she is very important to you. This, my friend, is better than a dozen roses or a box of chocolates. It costs you nothing but a piece of yourself. Get going!
Trust your spouse with your real feelings.
Husbands, your wife wants to truly know you. Do not be afraid to bear your soul. She has imagined worse, I promise. Men tend to only report emotion when they are angry or frustrated. Both are a tad off putting for the average wife. But behind these big mouth/strong emotions are many other emotions that a wife would love to hear about and support. Sad, disappointed, envious, lonely, afraid, hurt, concerned, and anxious are but a few! Many men believe these emotions to be “less masculine,” so they do not want to confess to feeling them. But, wives need to hear these. Why? Women have a hard time relating to someone whose heart is very different from her own. Women feel a wide array of emotions; they need to know that their husbands do too. So husband, trust your wife to handle your emotions. If you do, I believe you will be amazed by how this conversational intimacy will positively impact your marriage! Your friendship will be strengthened, and so will your marriage.
Husband, make mental notes during your day about how events “felt” so that you can include them in the re-telling at the end of the day with your wife.
Husband, consider this: you overhear three of your co-workers discussing a party they all went to, but that you weren’t invited to. Are you relieved, hurt, curious, or envious? Your answer tells your wife a lot about how you think and feel on a personal level – she wants to know this about you. She also wants to be able to better love and pray for you. She wants to be your closest friend and ally. Allow her to serve you in this way!
Conversational Cheats Allowed.
Keep a list of topics you’d like to discuss with your spouse. It doesn’t mean that you are shallow if you have to refer to them before a dinner out or before you take a long walk with your spouse. Topics can include your happiest childhood memories, your “bucket list” items and why they are important to you, relationships in the family or at work, things God has laid on your heart, future plans, sins God is dealing with you about, or anything that gets a reaction out of you that is something other than angry and frustrated 😊. Dive deep! The extra swimming will pay off. I promise.
Push the DOWN button on the conversational elevator.
We all know the difference between a lobby-level conversation … truthful, but superficial … and a basement-level exchange where your heart is raw and vulnerable. The first conversation you can have with a stranger without too much worry. The other most people reserve for those who are closest to them. Husband, allow the discussion to become more intimate with your wife. When possible, reinforce your commitment and appreciation for her. Don’t just tell her what you are fervently praying for, tell her why it is important to you. Tell her the why behind your last outburst. It probably had nothing at all to do with the additional monthly expense of A/C repair. Instead, it probably had to do with a deep worry like being solely responsible for providing financially for your family, or having a hard time turning your worry over to God! Your revelation will allow your wife to put her guard down and join you by your side and on your knees in prayer for increased faith.
When you entered into the covenant of marriage, you vowed, in a sense, to meet your spouse’s needs. A woman’s need for intimate connection is like a man’s need for recreational companionship. Your conversational skills may need some practice and attention, like my golf swing. Neither can be ignored. Husbands, if you ignore you wife’s need for intimate connection through soul-bearing conversation, do not be surprised if someone else slips in and meets her need. Danger! Do not permit Satan a foothold in your marriage! Do not open the door for an affair. Husband, satisfy this part of your wife’s longings so that nobody else does!
Remember, best friends don’t divorce! Invest in this aspect of your marriage and divorce-proof your marriage relationship.
Keep reading and stay washed in the Word, my friends!
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.