Ideas lift conversations. ( I’m so thankful that we have learned how to do more than “hallway talk” – it’s not always easy, but we keep working at it!)
When you and your spouse are together, what kind of conversations do you have?
- Do you confirm the appointment the dog has at the vets on Saturday? Do you inquire on what’s for supper tomorrow? Do you inform your spouse that you need your dry cleaning picked up before Monday? That’s called “Hallway Talk” and/or “Reporter Talk”.
- OR… Do you share what you think about the latest political gaff? Do you seek to convince your spouse on your opinion of what the company/church/community will do next? This can be called “Intellectual Talk”.
- OR… Do you unburden yourself to your spouse about how you’re feeling? Maybe you’re heartbroken over a friend’s troubles… or worried about how your supervisor’s actions will impact your job. This is called “Emotional Talk“.
- OR… Does your conversation fill each other with satisfaction? Do your ideas lift your conversations to greater intimacy with each other? This is called “Loving, Genuine Truth Talk”.
Read more about these 5 Levels of Communication authored by Gary Chapman here.
Ideas lift conversations and enrich marriages.
Ideas – where do you start?
Sometimes we get into conversational ruts. ( No worries – It happens to Rob and me too.) And getting out those ruts can take a bit of work.
Sometimes we’re too preoccupied with a work challenge, or a financial burden, or a health scare to dig into ideas which prompt us to think differently and possibly disagree with each other. (Only in the friendliest of ways, of course.) That’s OK.
However, I’m going to suggest that even in the most sleep deprived, stressful states, taking a break and talking about ideas will lift you and your spouse up – ideas lift conversations. And with a healthy and loving conversation, you’ll find your connection with your spouse enriched. Yes. Even during those nasty, crushing events in life. They will pass. Keep enriching your marriage all the way through them.
Where do you go to find ideas to talk about? Which ideas lift conversations?
First – consider ideas that are “honest but not condemning, open but not demanding.” Ideas that allow each of you “the freedom to think differently and feel differently.”
When you’re looking for ideas to talk about, consider:
- What are you reading that sparks ideas? I’ve been re-reading the The Screwtape Letters. And just today Rob shared an article on Loyalty (which is one of our 3 differentiating values.) These two items are introducing great conversations.
- What are you watching that generates ideas? Don’t limit yourself to numbing sitcoms or reality TV… use the power of the internet to your advantage! Have you heard of TedTalks? I’m constantly amazed by all the concepts… this one on procrastination makes us laugh and cringe at the same time!
- Who are you spending time with? Look to build relationships with friends who are different than you are – who might share some similarities, but also complement you and your spouse. We have friends who are gifted at making us laugh, and we can have deep converations with… That’s such a beautiful gift. (Rob and I are kinda boring – so they make us feel a little less boring!) Where can you find these people? I’m going to suggest serving – giving back… Where are you and your spouse serving? At church? In a non-profit? In your community? Reach out today, and ask how you and your spouse can contribute in the areas you’re already involved in… and then inititate conversations with those you meet!
Great conversations start with an idea – and they grow when discussed with open hearted people – can you be that kind of person?
Affirm your spouse’s ideas!
Never reject an idea that your spouse brings up in conversation – ideas are sparks – they will light up your converation.
Embrace your spouse’s ideas – play a conversational back and forth tennis game. Stretch, push, reach… oh, you’ll have fun!
Books and Activities to Spark Ideas…
Love Does – Bob Goff
You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream – Holley Gerth
Unlimited Grokker Videos for 14 Days
(These are affiliate links – we receive a small amount – with no cost to you. You’ll be helping us continue our mission to encourage husbands and wives to lead meaninful lives.) Linking with #thankful Thursdays.
Happy Friday – What are you thankful for this week?
Here are some questions to consider… ask your spouse and share!
Food: What foods made us feel good this week? Why?
Hobby: Have we spent time on our hobbies this week? What makes us happy when we do?
Emotions: What brought us joy this week?
Era: Why are we grateful about living in this time and age – did it show up this week?
Challenge: What was our greatest challenge this week and how did we overcome it? (If we didn’t then let’s make a plan.)
Greatest Accomplishments : What was our greatest accomplishment this week how did it make us/me feel to succeed?
*These questions are adapted from the month of gratitude challenge – see the post!
Happy Friday – Share It
Do we use all our time talking about challenges and disappointments? How much time do you allow yourself – maybe even force yourself – to dwell on what is positive in your life?
Share with your family – start a tradition!
Being thankful starts with those who lead the family.
Guess what? That’s you two! You lead your family.
Do you eat a meal together on the weekend with your family? Share what good stuff happened this week – first with each other, and then ask your children and grandchildren.
Use Skype if you live far from them. (Or call them on the phone!)
Make it a tradition.
Shape your conversation to change the world.
Don’t like your world? Want to change it? Start shifting the conversation between you and your spouse. It’s going to bring greater dividends than you imagine…
Use your conversations with those you influence to inspire and encourage. It’s a small thing – but possible. One conversation at a time. Talk about what’s true, and lovely. Include what is noble and admirable into what you share. Praise and give thanks for what is excellent.
Leadership is about influence – no more, no less. Be sure you’re influencing well.
If we’re going to give you a challenge – we have to be accountable too… right?
Here are Rob and my answers to these questions:
Food that made us happy? I made (a version of) this yesterday! Roast pork tenderloin & potato with green beans. It was yummy! The left-overs will taste good too, I’m sure. 😉 We’re thankful we can share a meal together.
Hobbies? We read a good book this week – even did a post about it. (It’s about marriage, as you might have guessed… is marriage our hobby? hahaha Maybe!)
We’re thankful we can read. So much to discover – so much to share. Reading and sharing starts lots of good conversations.
I’ve been re-reading The Screwtape Letters, and to increase my understanding I’ve been watching video lectures about the book. Wow – what I’m learning. And I can share with Rob my experience. Just watch this video (it’s the last of the series of lectures – but might be the best) to understand more.
Joy? Rob was away for a few days, and when he returned he was so happy to see the grandboy. And I was filled with joy watching them. So thankful.
This Era? We have to be happy about technology in this era – this week it showed up by us being able to be connected even though we were across the country from each other! We’re thankful we can keep our marriage strong even in this era.
Greatest Challenge? – Living our value of optimism. Yes. Even encouragers struggle sometimes. We’re working on it… focusing on being thankful is a perfect way to win this challenge!
Greatest Accomplishment this week? Writing. Even when time doesn’t permit. Even when we don’t feel like it. Even when we’re brain-dead, and without ideas… writing something the best we can and pressing “publish” is an accomplishment.
We’re thankful for you – who read our posts! Happy Friday!
Love at First Fight. Yes. Fight. (Not Sight.) Fun word switch, huh?
Rob and I have been reading a newly released book by a husband and wife ministry team. Dena and Carey are married 20-some years. They’re parents of two boys. They entertain. They make people laugh. They’re Jesus-followers who write, sing, and do all the normal stuff that life and marriage entails. Sometimes they fight. In their latest project together, they’re talking about taking the gloves off…
Do you and your spouse fight?
Maybe, like us, you don’t call it “fighting”. Maybe you call it a discussion. A conversation. Or arguing. Or disagreeing.
Whatever words you use to describe what happens when the two of you have different opinions on a topic, the most important aspect is what comes after the fight…
What happens in your relationship after you fight? Are you able to…
- take a step back and cool off?
- laugh a bit – because the situation isn’t as important as you thought?
- discuss your different opinions on the issue?
If you need to increase your ability to do any of these three things, then this book might help.
He Said. She Said. There’s always two sides.
Rob and I come at the same situation from very different perspectives. Always. That’s normal, because we’re two different people. We’re unique. So are you and your spouse.
Do you take the time to explore both of your perspectives?
Dena and Carey Dyer are as unique as you and me, and our spouses… They have different perspectives about the same situations. In their book, “Love at First Fight“, they detail their different perspectives in a “he said” and “she said” format.
If you find it a challenge to listen… and really hear what your spouse is saying about a situation, then this book will be a great lesson in seeing two sides of the same event. Each of the 52 story-meditations have the format of both Carey and Dena’s perspectives.
What makes it great for us – the readers – is that it’s not our story! We have a third-party view into how two people see the same issue.
And each story is so well written. They’ll make you laugh, as they talk about culture shock when relocating as newlyweds, They’ll make you ponder as they talk about how a husband views the concept of “cherishing” his wife, and how she views the action. Humor is woven through the most concerning of topics, including sex in marriage, chronic illness, spiritual leadership, forgiveness, and more.
Each of the 52 story meditations are an easy, quick read. There’s no slogging through compicated words or concepts. The topics are about real life, with real life wording and phrases. Each topic is tied to a Biblical word, with a Scripture verse included, and a short prayer.
The topics covered are chronological according to the Dyer’s married life – topics we all encountered as newlyweds. (So the book is relevant for those married even a few months.) Then there are topics covered as the Dyers are married more years, exploring parenthood, and careers. This makes the book relevant for those married 10 or more years.
The Dyers are in their 40’s as they write this book. They’re married twenty-some years. Because Rob and I are now further down the road, and our kids are grown and we’ve been exploring the shock of grandparent-hood, the book finishes before they’ve discussed some of the issues we have been experiencing. That’s not bad. Just not as helpful for us.
However, there is more to each topic that we found valuable.
But wait, there’s more!
I’ve told you about the “he said” and “she said” portion of each story-meditation… there’s more. It pertains to the third aspect I said you could learn using this book. How to discuss an issue.
Questions to discuss an issue.
For each topic, after we’ve read Carey’s perspective, and Dena’s view, there’s a section called, “Taking off the gloves.”. These sections have three questions pertaining to each topic. As a whole, Rob and I really like the questions. They’re real. They’re relevant for anyone at any stage of marriage.
The questions have value for the future of your relationship, because they round out what you’ve been reading, and give you a chance to discuss important topics before they show up in crisis mode. As entertaining as the story-meditations are, I think the real value of this book is in the questions for you and your spouse. (Provided you discuss them.)
Each story-meditation ends with “Tips from the Pros”
To finish each of the 52 stories and questions, is a quote from different couples married for years. It’s a really nice way to end each topic.
Who should read this book?
It would be easy to say, “Every married person should read this book.” But I won’t say that. As I mentioned earlier, it isn’t a book that is as helpful for Rob and me as it would be for a couple married a few years. However, we found value in the questions… and we laughed. (We like to laugh.)
If you say “yes” to any of the statements below, then this book will be a valuable read for you and your spouse:
- Reading a book about marriage with my spouse feels daunting. (Either because neither of you like to read, or you’re concerned you’ll feel overwhelmed/judged/preached to… or you think it’ll be boring.) If you said “yes” to any part of this statement, this book might be a good one for you. It’s funny. You’ll laugh. There’s no preaching, but it is tied to Scripture. You can easily read one topic each week, and talk about one or more of the questions, and you’ll be done in less than an hour. One year later you’ll have enriched your marriage by reading a book together. Bada-boom bada-bing! Easy.
- Finding a way to start a conversation – a real, and deep conversation – is a challenge. Many couples go through stages where their talk is all “hallway” talk…. They talk about what’s for dinner, or what they’re doing on the weekend, but there’s no deeper heart-sharing conversation. That’s OK. Happens to all of us, at every stage. But if you want to deepen your conversations and talk about relevant things, then the topics and questions in this book will make an impact. You’ll grow in your ability to have a great conversation with your spouse.
- I want to fit my faith – my belief in Jesus and the Gospel – into my marriage. I want to live the Gospel with my spouse. Because each of the 52 story-based meditations has a Scriptural foundation (without being preachy), this book provides an easy way to consider how the Gospel can shape your marriage relationship.
Final thoughts about this book…
Though it’s not a deep or profound book, “Love at First Fight” is a real and relevant book. It’s funny. It’s easy to read. When you think of the cost – under $10 – I’d consider the pay-back, the growth of your marriage and the laughter the two of you could share, a small investment for a great dividend.
We received a free copy of this book to review. And…
The publisher has offered a copy for us to give away to a reader!
Would you like to win a copy of this book – “Love at First Fight”? Leave a comment – I’ll choose a random winner on October 1, 2016 from those who answer this question in the comments below::
“What’s the “word” you use when you and your spouse disagree? Do you call it a “fight”… or “argument”… or “bickering” or “spat” or “quarrel” or…
And WHY do you use that word?
This post contains affiliate links.
If you could say “thank you” to your spouse, what would that statement entail? Make your “thank you” be about the person she/he IS… not only for what they DO… Does the person you married – the one you love more than any other human on this earth – know how much you value him/her? And for what?
Let Me Count The Ways
There’s a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning detailing how she feels about her husband: “How do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways”. (It’s a beautifully touching poem. If you haven’t read it— click the link — it’s only 14 lines.)
The above poem came to mind when I read the second prompt in the 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge: “The Loves of My Life: Why I want to thank them for being in my life?” For the month of September 2016 I’m refocusing on gratitude. On being thankful. These are excellent prompts for husbands and wives to ask each other…. (Learn more about the challenge here.)
Could you list all the ways – all the reasons – you’re thankful for your spouse?
Is your spouse especially patient? What about being resilient? Are you thankful your spouse is a wonderful parent? Or do you thank God for the way your spouse navigates every challenge? Again – it’s not about their actions.. but rather their character.
What are the positive character qualities you admire about your spouse?
Can you list them?.
Character. It’s all about the inside stuff.
Robert and I’ve been together since we were 15 and 17. Four years later we were married. I’ve known this man for 36 years – and he’s always been one of the greatest blessings in my life. (I thank God for him every day.) It’s not about what he does… it’s about who he is!
Here are some aspects of Robert’s character for which I’m thankful…
- He’s appreciative when anyone does something for him. I’m thankful he never takes anything for granted.
- He’s ambitious – he looks at the big picture. I’m thankful he embraces a challenge.
- He’s organized. His ability to be neat is one of the reasons we can live well in 282 square feet.
- He’s forgiving. I’m so thankful he can let hurts go… and move forward.
- He’s dedicated. I’m thankful for his constant perseverance regardless of obstacles.
- He’s kind and gentle. I’m thankful he guards my heart, my hurts, and our love.
- He’s loyal. In our 36 years together I’ve been so thankful I can trust in his loyalty to me.
- He’s responsible. (Oh, my. It’s good that one of us is!) I’m thankful he always does what he says he will.
- He has a servant-heart – focused on serving God. I’m so thankful my spouse and I can serve together.
- He is strong. Strength isn’t just physical (although it’s really nice that he is that too!) I’m thankful that he’s strong in his ability to stand up for what’s right. I’m thankful he’s strong-minded (never wishy-washy). I’m thankful he uses his strength of character to protect those who are less strong.
- and so many more qualities… I could have easily kept going!
I have to tell you that I took the easy way when making this list. A while ago I made a resource – 276+ Character Qualities – and I looked at those words as I wrote the list above.
Would you like this resource to create your own list?
Make it a priority to say “thank you” to your spouse!
Don’t wait. Don’t procrastinate!
Sometimes we don’t know where to start to say “thank you”… so we don’t begin. This resource will help you start.
The #30bbdaysofgratitude by Aurélie has 30 prompts with questions for each day in September.
Today’s prompt and question is: The Loves of My Life: Why I want to thank them for being in my life?
Though I’m adapting the prompts and questions for husbands and wives here on EncourageYourSpouse.com, I thought I’d also give you all a glimpse into the other “Loves of My Life” – my three children and why I’m thankful they’re in my life…
So – I gave birth to the two on the left of the picture – Alex and Sarah – and then Alisane became our daughter-in-love in 2010. I’m beyond thankful to have these three adults in my life – I admire them greatly. Here’s a small taste of what I’m thankful for…
- All three of them are using the gifts God gave them to make a difference in the world.
- All three of them actively serve the Lord. They value their faith.
- All three of them are loving and kind.
- They’re encouraging and supportive.
- They’re generous with their time and energy.
- and so much more.
My three children are a beautiful gift from God. I give thanks for them daily.
There’s this little guy. Our grandboy. Theo.
He’s 8 months old and what is keeping us tethered to North Carolina… but we’re very thankful for him. I “grandparent” him two days a week, so we’re getting to really know each other well. He’s exploring his world. And learning how to get his own way. I’m thankful to hold him as he sleeps, to sing songs to him, to read books and say silly nursery rhymes with funny voices. Yes. I’m thankful to watch him grow from an infant into this engaging and willful and loving and laughing little human.
Refocus on Gratitude. Being Thankful.
A happy marriage doesn’t just “show up”! Sometimes you need to refocus. Change your focus – to the small things… or those larger things. Being thankful is a good action to take. And it works best if both of you are refocusing. So….
30 days to Refocus on Gratitude
I found a group of ladies doing a challenge that caught my attention – they’re bloggers, and I’m guessing most of them are much younger than Rob and me. The blogger who has crafted this challenge is Aurélie @BumpandBlush – she’s a mum of one, with a little one on the way. Some are putting photos on Instagram with the hashtag #30bbdaysofgratitude — others are writing posts. I’m looking forward to reading their responses to this challenge.
The challenge is a bit more than Gratitude.
The challenge to refocus on gratitude is a curated challenge with wonderful prompts. I especially like her questions which accompany the prompts!
These questions seemed like a perfect fit to encourage your spouse… Imagine the two of you asking each other…
- My House : Why I feel good at home?
- The Loves of My Life : Why I want to thank them for being in my life?
- My Projects/Work : What do I love about my projects / work?
- My Friends : Who have always been there for me?
- My Family : Why are they so precious? Why am I so thankful?
- My Inspirations : Who inspires me and Why do I want to thank them?
- My Funny Moments: What are they and why I am thankful for them?
- Technology : What are the gadgets that surround me and how do they help me?
- My Books : What are the books that had a great influence on me and why?
- Nature : What I love about the outdoors?
- Knowledge: What have I learnt and how did it change your life?
- My Routine : What do I like in my routine? In what way does it contribute to my happiness?
- The Gift : A gift that you cherished and why?
- My Dreams : Why are my dreams so important and What are they?
- The Trip : What is your most memorable trip and why?
- The Song: What song inspires you and why?
- Childhood : What I love the most about my childhood and how it made me the person I am today?
- Food: What food makes you feel good and why?
- Hobby: What is my hobby and why I enjoy doing it?
- Emotions : What brings you joy?
- Era: What are you grateful about living in this time and age?
- Challenge: What is your greatest challenge in life and how you plan to overcome it?
- Greatest Accomplishments : What is your greatest accomplishment and how did it make you feel to succeed?
- Seasons: What season are you grateful for and why?
- The Memories: What is your favourite memory and why are you grateful about it?
- My Hidden Talent: What is my hidden talent and what do you use it for?
- My Past: What aspects of the past can you now be grateful about?
- Life Lessons: Why are they necessary and What are the good lessons I have learned?
- My Body : What are the reasons I want to say thank you to my body and why do I accept it the way it is?
- The Gratitude Challenge: Why am I grateful for this challenge?
The goal is to appreciate all of life’s little blessings… 30 days to feel happy!
Day 1 – Our Home
Why I feel good at home?
Some of you might realize that we don’t live in a traditional stick and brick home… we live in a recreational vehicle – a RV – a fifth wheel trailer towed by our Ford F150 pickup truck. (I believe those in the UK and Australia call them caravans?)
It’s a pretty big change from our first 30 years of marriage. We’ve lived in 4 houses – two in Canada and two in the USA. We collected a lot of stuff in 30 years… and it was a challenge to downsize… But this time in a RV is a dream realized!
After 30 years of marriage we sold our house and moved into an RV – it was a dream that became reality. So, why do we feel good at home, in our little-house-on-wheels, right now?
- We’re thankful we can travel easily, and as Discovery is one of our values, that’s good!
- We’re thankful it takes 10 minutes (at most) to clean. It gives us more time to enjoy each other!
- We’re thankful all we need is with us – in 282 square feet – we’re living a minimalst lifestyle.
Part of the task to refocus on gratitude is to look at exactly where you are in this moment. Sometimes it’s easier to look backward. Or forward. But today, for this first challenge consider this moment, exactly where you are and look at the positives. Be thankful.
Take this moment – and ask yourself – ask your spouse:
Why do we feel good at home?
Leave a comment and share!