How often do you and your spouse check in to connect with each other? Do you connect daily, or do you connect weekly? How about monthly? Or maybe you don’t even think about its importance.
We sure do. As a couple we see the fallback when we do not at the very least connect weekly with our spouse. At times we found ourselves completely disconnected from each other as we were running here and there and didn’t make a point of “checking in” with each other at a deeper level, other than “hi” and “bye”.
We also see it through the marriages that are falling apart because they “grew apart” and became more of roommates, rather than soul mates. Growing their relationship was at the bottom of their list of “things to do.” Sadly:
“Many couples have fallen into a passive approach to their marriage. They wake up one day wondering what went wrong. They operate their marriages in what we call default mode: things happen without planning or directions or effort. Instead of default mode, we need a proactive approach for our marriages to grow. The call that we’re sending out is this: Get out of the default mode in your marriage. Live at a higher level!” (Michael McManus)
Check In and Connect Weekly
If we’re going to “live at a higher level” and grow our marriage relationship, rather than allow it to die from neglect we have to be pro-active in putting some things in place. We’ve done this, and we urge you to do the same. Please don’t allow your marriage to become a divorce or emotional separation casualty through default.
“It is easy to go days, weeks and even months without intentionally connecting with your husband or wife. You live in the same house, but stop sharing life together. It’s gradual. It’s incremental. It happens to the best of marriages. What if you could help your marriage be more about relationship and less about busyness? It’s easy to know our spouse’s schedule and forget about their heart. (Justin and Trish Davis)
We want you to not only connect your schedules, but your hearts. We totally agree with something that Teri and Paul Reisser wrote:
“We strongly urge couples to commit to a regularly scheduled, look-me-in-the-eye conversation session that we refer to as ‘checking in’ with your spouse. What we’re talking about is an uninterrupted, take-this-really-seriously time to find out what’s going on in your spouse’s inner life. It can occur over a cup of coffee or a meal together (assuming the setting allows for undistracted focus on each other and the conversation). It can occur on a long walk, during a drive, or in virtually any setting in which a husband and wife are willing and able to listen attentively to one another.
“In addition to a planned time (for example, every Saturday afternoon for coffee), it also can and should occur as a spontaneous ‘I need to talk’ session. This is not the same as a date night, by the way, which it has it’s own valuable place in marriage. Couples who set aside time for a weekly catch-up session are taking a critical step toward ensuring a long, fruitful, and loving relationship.”
YES! We totally agree. We need to connect romantically, as well as syncing together in our schedules. Additionally, we need to talk about the harder issues, as well as the more casual ones for connection. As a result, we will grow together more and more through the years.
So, here is an exercise that Teri and Paul Reisser gave us permission to share with you. You can use it as it is. Or you can glean through it and adapt it in whatever way it works best for you. But DO SOMETHING. Here’s their very wise suggestion, along with guidelines:
EXERCISE: CHECKING IN WITH YOUR SPOUSE.
Here are some basic ground rules for this exercise: Listen to the other person without giving any negative feedback, advice, or problem-solving solutions, unless your spouse specifically asks for it. One person may ask his or her partner all the questions before switching.
If one person ends up talking the whole time you have allotted, don’t worry; start with the other person the next time. (Don’t let one person dominate the time each week. Allow the quieter partner time to organize and share his or her thoughts at a leisurely pace, even if there are pauses during which the more talkative partner is dying to jump in.) Or let each person answer one question at a time. If you have only a short time in a given session, focus on questions six and seven.
Checking In Questions
1. What was the best thing that happened to you this week?
2. What was the worst thing?
3. How did I best meet your needs this week?
4. How did I least meet your needs this week? (Be careful: Don’t become defensive when you hear the answer. Just listen!)
5. What could I have done differently in that situation that would have been more helpful for us?
6. What are you most worried about right now? (Note: This is the single most important question you can ask during this session)
7. Is there any way I can help you with that concern?
8. What are you feeling right now?
(Terri K. Reisser and Paul C. Reisser, from the book, “Your Spouse Isn’t the Person You Married”)
A FEW MORE SUGGESTIONS
We’re all about personalizing that, which we use to help us in our marriages. What’s important is that it works for you. And if one thing doesn’t work, then try, try again. Adapt… if you need to, but again, just do something so you connect daily and connect weekly! So here are a few suggestions to help you to connect, even in little ways, with your spouse. Be intentional in making the time to do this:
“You can call it your ‘check-in’ exercise. Each of you take turns, where you don’t interrupt each other. You then share for about 5 minutes all the things that happened in your day. That way you’re up to date, and you feel as if your spouse does share your life.” (Sheila Wray Gregoire from her article, “Stop Drifting Apart In Marriage)
Here’s another suggestion that you may love (like we do):
And if you are having a difficult time finding the opportunity to at least connect weekly, here’s a suggestion:
“Spend time together and protect that time from all invaders, including the phone, work, household chores, and yes, the children. My wife and I have instilled in our children the ‘3 B Rule.’ If she and I are having ‘connecting time,’ the kids can only interrupt us if someone is bleeding, someone is broken, or something is burning. Beyond that, they must wait to talk to us.” (Tim A Gardner, from Today’s Christian Woman article, “How to Spend Time Together”)
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
We talk a lot about communication issues and so much more in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself (It’s available both electronically and in print form). Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:
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