Check in with your spouse – especially if you’re going to pray for her – for him. It’s a good idea. And we have a suggestion for you, even if your spouse isn’t very chatty about how they’re feeling, or what they’re concerned over. Why check in? We know you want to pray for your spouse.
For a while (and still every now and again) I’ve worked through a list from Stormie Omartian’s book, “The Power of a Praying Wife“. It’s a powerful book. (pun intended). Areas she’s written about to focus on are his job, his health, his relationship with God, his thoughts, etc. They’re all are covered in the pages of this book. (There’a companion book for husbands also.)
But what about specific areas? How can I know what to pray for in specific, targeted things Robert is worried/concerned about? And how does he pray for me?
Well… we do a check in with each other.
How to Check In With Each Other
Here’s one practical way Robert and I use to check in on each other:
Physical – Mental – Emotional – Spiritual
After we check in with each other, on our best days, we are GREEN across the board, under all four areas: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. (I don’t know where we got the idea of these four areas, and checking in on them, but it’s been working for us for years.)
How does it work for us?
If Robert seems weighed down or not at his best, I ask him how he’s doing, and he responds with each area and a color. If we didn’t use this idea, I could guess… and maybe I’d be right. Maybe sometimes. Or maybe not much.
- I might guess that he’s disturbed by a challenge in his work. Instead, he has a bad headache. He’s a YELLOW physically.
- I might guess that he’s just tired. Instead, he’s mentally torn as he struggles to resolve a particular challenge on an important project. He’s a YELLOW mentally.
- I might guess he’s pondering over the book he’s currently reading. Instead, he’s anguishing over a serious financial issue. He’s a RED emotionally.
- I might guess that he’s just angry at the other drivers on the road. Instead, he’s feeling very weighed down in spirit because he’s seeking an answer from God and not yet received a response. He’s a RED spiritually.
Don’t guess. Guessing why your spouse is acting a certain way rarely works. Check in with each other.
So many misunderstandings could be avoided…however, some spouse’s don’t share – or can’t share – exactly what they’re feeling. That’s why using this list of four areas – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – along with a color to describe how they’re feeling is a good way to begin.
And then you know exactly how to encourage your spouse!
- If your spouse is hurting physically, you can provide care, even if it’s only an ice pack and a kiss. And pray.
- If your spouse is caught up in their head, you can be a sounding board and listening ear. And pray.
- If your spouse is feeling pressed on every side emotionally, you can cry with them and remind them how much you and God loves them. And pray.
- If your spouse is being attacked spiritually, you can speak God’s Truth to them. And really pray.
When you know what’s not GREEN then you will know how to encourage.
And in everything, you can surround her/him in prayer!
Check in with each other – often. Be constant in prayer.
Here’s the book by Stormie Omartian I so enjoy using.
There’s a guy’s version also: The Power of a Praying Husband
Date Night, for a husband and wife, can descend into a silent, mediocre meal, surrounded by strangers, with nothing better to take home than the bill. Why bother?
Here’s both the Big Picture and the Practical wrapped up in 16 reasons…
Take Back Date Night!
16 reasons a date night is the best choice for you and your spouse:
- Quality Time = Quality Marriage. Dedicated time for a date night with each other starts with a promise of quality time. (one the of the five love languages)
- Be a Keeper. By being proactive, use date night to do something new, and stay connected all through your years of marriage. There’s no reason to fall out of love (or “like”) with each other! Here’s a link to a post about what we’ve seen in couples married many years.
- Stress Away. No… really! Let that stress of daily life GO! Arrange a date night to let go of stress – music, physical activity, laughter, quiet contemplation while viewing a sunset or whatever works to recharge. A date night is the perfect opportunity to de-stress.
- Reach Out and Touch. Physical touch is another of the 5 love languages. It’s priceless. (and not all about sex – but always could include intimacy!) Use date night to escalate the power of touch – from holding hands, to caressing a face, to massaging shoulders, to kissing, to… (Yeah. You get the gist, right?) Play a bit. Only go further one step at a time – use an hour to go no further than touching each other’s hands, and the next hour to only touch above the neck, and the third hour to only use your mouth... elsewhere…(are you smirking yet?)
- Stability in Change. There’s nothing so constant as change. Your life is going to change. Guaranteed. You will change. Your spouse will change. Your kids will change. Everything is always changing. (Tired yet?) Use date night to remain stable, emotionally and relationally, in every change you encounter.
- Challenged to Grow. Date night, done well, forces the two of you to stretch. What do I mean, “done well”? Whenever there’s a opportunity, you have two choices: put in some effort or seek the path of least resistance. Your marriage will grow if you always put in the effort, and date night is a regular way to make sure you push yourself.
- Inject Humor into a Serious Life. Robert and I are pretty serious. We feel we don’t laugh enough, and deliberately seek out opportunities to be around people who find laughter easy. What about you? Are you one of those easy-to-laugh couples? (Hey- want to hang out together?) If you do find it easy to laugh, share your gift with each other, and others! And if you’re like us, then use date night to watch YouTube videos, listen to comedians on Sirius Comedy channel, go to the bookstore and read each other funny comics – or the card store and pick out cards to make each other laugh! (Just read them and carefully put them away – it doesn’t have to cost anything!)
- “Yes, I’d marry YOU again!” Words of Affirmation. Assurance. Use date night to affirm your spouse. (That’s another of the love languages!) After you’ve been married for multiple decades (or even before that) and life becomes either hum-drum, or hectic, it’s deeply valuable to know your spouse admires you… still. Or that your spouse values you… still. Or your spouse would choose you all over again!
- More than. You are more than a man. More than a woman. You are more than a mother. More than a father. More than a grandparent, an employee, a minister, a clerk, a lawyer, a note-taker, a cook, a dog-walker. You are the other half of another person. It’s so easy to lose track of that fact. To mitigate its importance. As spouses, you are One-Flesh. Made for each other. United.
- Asking for Help. It’s not what you might think – I’m not suggesting you use your date night to go to counseling. Rather, have you ever considered a date night focused on prayer? I’m guessing your life isn’t all peaches and roses. I imagine you’re kind of like Rob and me – you’ve got problems. Concerns. Use an hour of date night to pray together – ask for help from the ONE who has all the answers and all the power. Date night doesn’t need to be (only) fun and games. You’ve already taken time away – you’re disconnected from everyday life.,, Date night is also there for the serious stuff. Make date night count – use it for the problem times too!
- Be Unique! Unfortunately, it’s not common to find couples who are deliberate about making time for a date night. It’s rare to find husbands and wives who have a night/morning/afternoon date – alone – every week. Yes, it is sad. Heart-breaking. Especially when you talk with couples who are contemplating divorce and can’t remember the last time they spent quality time together.
Here’s a personal story – we have friends in Dallas – married many decades, who go on a weekly “date night”. Her work even knows not to schedule her on that evening, because it’s “date night”! In her role as the Director of First Impressions at a call center, she shares her view on the value of date-night… and she lives it! Couldn’t we all be like that?
- You’re a Team. Have you forgotten? Husband and wife are a team – tackling life together. Your kids are going to grow up – your buddies/girlfriends will shift, your employment will change… You. Are. A. Team. Use date night to work together on a project, to overcome a fear, to plan a new outcome, and set goals. Oh, please set goals together! Here’s a post about setting goals as husband and wife.
- Keep Each Other Young. Use date night to play. Use that time together to renew your playful spirit, and to find the kid hidden inside you both. Try board games from your childhood, or legos, or swing, or play hop-scotch, or…
- Ask Great Questions. Robert just finished a great book, A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas by Warren Berger. The premise of the book is that by questioning, deeply, imaginatively, and “beautifully” we can identify and solve problems, come up with game-changing ideas, and pursue fresh opportunities. Use the power of questions to enrich your life together! Need suggestions for questions? Try our eBook!
- Romance is ALIVE and well! Do you remember the “tingles”… those flutters, and quivers when you first saw your spouse? My first memory of Rob is hearing his deep, bass voice answering questions behind me in church. (I was 14 – he was 16.) Later, when we began dating, I would get this thrill, just to know he was going to knock on our side door, and take me out for the evening. When was the last time you felt the “tingles”? Have you dressed up for your spouse lately? Have you given her a gift? (Yeah, gifts are another of the five love languages.) What about trying a few new options in your intimacy, or an invitation to slow dance to a love song… a moonlight kiss, or a love note? A date night will keep the romance in your marriage alive!
- Connect and Communicate to Encourage. We all long to feel understood, don’t we? We all need to feel affirmed. Each spouse – husband or wife – wants to feel valued. Date night does all of this – if you’ve decided to make the event (morning, noon or night) a tool to connect and communicate. It’s up to you. Each of you. Date night is the best choice to encourage your spouse, if you keep this in mind.
Is it time for a date night?
… to communicate, face-to-face…
… to connect emotionally …
Intentionally share yourself with your spouse.
Date Night. With a purpose.
“…arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face, let me hear your voice”
Song of Solomon 2:13-14
I’m sure you’ve already heard of the book by Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts – but in case you have yet to read it… please – take the time!
Really. You’re relationship will be forever changed!
It’s the first resource that Robert and I recommend for anyone. Everyone. It’s easy to understand, and easy to do. Yup. It has the big picture and the practical.
There are 5 ways we feel loved – and one of them is our primary way. So many spouses believe they’re communicating their love, and yet the other isn’t “getting” it. This book will get you on the road to solving that problem.
Have you read it a while ago? Maybe it’s time to re-read it. Together. With your spouse!
AH… another date night activity?
Thankful to link with:
Wednesday Prayer Girls
What are the good reasons for marriage?
No matter how long you’ve been married – whether your marriage has been smooth sailing or you’ve been smashed down by tsunami-sized waves, time and again… just consider:
For what purpose is God using you and your spouse – today?
There is a purpose. There are good reasons for your marriage.
I’m sure of it!
Able and Sovereign,
has it ALL – our past, our future
– in His hand.
makes no mistakes.
He has a purpose. There are good reasons for your marriage.
He is a master at creating all things new, at authoring fresh beginnings, at engineering miracles, at wrapping up battles – which appear to be hopeless – into glorious victories…
Even when we think we have it all planned out… HE is the director of every step.
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
When you got married, there were reasons for your marriage, weren’t there? We all make plans, some good, and some not so great. Fortunately, God makes no mistakes in directing our steps, regardless of our plans.
It’s considered a positive trait to pro-actively work a plan, isn’t it? But in the end, whether your plans seemed good at the time, but didn’t work out to be as great as you hoped, be comforted that God is directing your steps. He has it all mapped out, and will either work with your plans, or work around your plans, to direct the way you should go. He can make use of your marriage…
The key is to ask Him.
Take a step back – yes, look at the bigger picture of your life with your spouse – and view where God has used you and your spouse for His purpose. Can you see a pattern?
Some couples feel God has put them together to serve a greater need, whether a spiritual goal such as ministry, or a natural goal, such as contributing through a business or non-profit. Some couples are sure the reason they are together is to be model of how a marriage can be reconciled through grace, even after infidelity. Some couples are fulfilled and energized by raising a family. Other couples combine their talents to enrich lives…
There’s a view which paints the picture that the reason for marriage is to learn how to be holy.
Because our God is so creatively amazing, and we all are different, we have different reasons for marriage. And different ways He uses our marriage for His glory.
Have you asked God what He would like to do with the two of you?
Even if you can’t see a pattern to your life, and how God has used you and your spouse – or – even if you can’t see a way forward to how God could use such an imperfect couple… have you asked Him?
Ask. Seek. Knock.
Know the Good Reasons for Marriage
Ask God, in prayer, to know how He’d like to direct your steps as a couple.
Keep watching. Look for His direction. And then keep praying. Continue, praying without ceasing, to discern God’s direction for your life together as a couple, and the good reasons He has for your marriage.
You can be encouraged, and encourage your spouse, through this asking in prayer.
But what if you haven’t ever prayed together? Then, start small and simple. Just hold hands, and thank God for each other. Ask for your steps to be guided by Him.
There is a reason He put the two of you together… There are good reasons for your marriage.
Sometimes we all need to see marriage in a new light – and hear how someone else’s views on marriage – to explore where we can grow. Here are three book recommendations:
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God
This book gives a beautiful picture of what marriage was meant to look like – and to give both married and unmarried people a vision for what marriage is according to the Bible. Robert and I appreciate when husbands and wives share their experiences in marriage, and that’s included in this book – Timothy and Kathy Keller have been married more than 37 years.
What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
Marriage is never what you expected – in the first year, the 10th or the 50th year, is it? Marriage is a constantly growing experience, and hopefully husband and wife are growing together! What we like best about this book by Pastor Paul Tripp, are the six commitments for marriage – they provide solid and practical direction. (Yeah, big picture and practical!) It appears that there’s a newer edition of this book coming available soon.. What Did You Expect? (Redesign): Redeeming the Realities of Marriage (The original had a different cover, and was a gift from Tom and Debi at The Romantic Vineyard)
Grace Filled Marriage: The Missing Piece. the Place to Start.
We wrote a post about this book, but what I liked best was the future focus of the promise Grace will bring to everyone’s marriage; a secure love, a significant purpose, a strong hope, to be different and vulnerable, and to be candid and make mistakes. Because we’ve been called to be gentle with each other in marriage, Grace is the answer!
We’ve read and discussed these three books – they’re packed away in storage right now, as we’re traveling, but we very much value their perspectives and what we learned toward the reasons God has us together. There are days our purpose is clearer than others, but encouraging is always a part of Robert and my reason to be together! We encourage each other, and seek to encourage others.
Do you know the reason God put you two together?
How has God used you – directed your steps? Leave a comment!
This post is part of the series 101 Phrases to Encourage Your Spouse – see the video!
(The books above are affiliate links – should you decide to purchase one, there’s no added cost to you, but you’ll be blessing Robert and me with a few pennies. )
Gentleness may not be what you think it is… or it might even be more than you believe. It’s never weak. And it can be found in every great marriage.
Possible in every marriage.
There are lots of head-strong, forceful individuals who are married. Sometimes both husband and wife are considered strong, driven, decisive, and goal oriented. Why would they want to incorporate gentleness into their marriage? Isn’t gentleness considered a ‘weak’ value?
And what about those individuals who have great strife in their marriage? Endless financial battles, massive addiction struggles, unwieldy family carnage, and so much more, which sums up the whirlwind of their years together. Those individuals can’t practice a passive value like this, can they? Where could gentleness fit into their marriage?
Why does every marriage need this value?
Gentleness, as a value, means even-tempered; considerate; honorable, strength under control.
These three aspects can be summed up by one image: an adult hand holding an infant’s hand:
Strength Under Control
Strength under control can have the greatest impact in a marriage. Learning to control your actions, words, and even thoughts is the beginning of gentleness. Just think of the power of an adult hand, and the delicacy of an infant…
Distance is the enemy of gentleness. Gentleness is never distant – it always is practiced in proximity to the one you love. Practicing this value in your marriage means staying close to each other in mind, body, and spirit. Imagine the feeling of that little baby’s hand in your yours…
Gentleness is considerate. It takes into account your spouse’s moods, and feelings, and acts accordingly. And responds quickly – with grace. There’s a special focus when you hold an infant, isn’t there? You’ll rarely take your eyes off them, will you?
Today will never come again…
Today will never come again …
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5
Be gentle with your spouse – don’t be anxious about things…
“… but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6 NIV
Perhaps this scripture holds the key to gentleness… with the peace of God, which we can’t truly fathom – our hearts and minds are guarded. We can put all our anxieties and requests into prayer – always remembering to give thanks to Him who is the author of our lives.
10 Ways to Practice Gentleness
Here are 10 ways it can be practiced in marriage.
- Gentleness deliberately waits to address difficult issues till the time is right.
- Gentleness honors your spouse’s free will, without joining in to placate her/him.
- Gentleness shines a light on a tender issue while exercising respect.
- Gentleness remains even-tempered during a crisis, yet stays alert for possible dangers.
- Gentleness offers a hug when a spouse messes up, and remains silent in commiseration.
- Gentleness uses light humor to diffuse tense moments.
- Gentleness protects vulnerable spots but addresses the hurt that needs healing.
- Gentleness never needs to yell, and never cowers or whimpers.
- Gentleness takes its time to consider all the facts, but is quick to ask for forgiveness.
- Gentleness remains ever present, even if it’s never acknowledged.
Increase your strength by being gentle.
To create a healthy, strong marriage, practicing the value of gentleness might just be the perfect fitness program!
How has gentleness strengthened your marriage?
Share the ways your spouse is gentle with you – and you are gentle with your spouse…
ADD to the list on how to practice this value!
All the possibilities in life… need a plan —> or they won’t happen.
It’s easy to let “real life” meander – or dash – or fast forward, and find your dreams sinking into the muck of “wish I coulda” because time has passed too fast, and too far. Maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s something else – but the days, weeks and years can pass without us even noticing.
How many of us look back and say,
“I wish…” “I wonder”… “If only”…
And realize time has moved – and it is too late.
(At least for some things.)
Some of us will never dance the lead in Swan Lake, or know the intense concentration needed in a twelve-hour neurosurgery, or the chaos and joy from adopting siblings from Russia, or the physical exhaustion and exhilaration from hiking to Machu Pichu at 8000 feet above sea level.
But there will be other dreams. Other plans. Other goals.
Shake off your fear – address the comfort that isn’t serving you!
When are you going to put a plan together to make sure those dreams, plans and goals won’t disappear also?
All the possibilities…
What kinds of possibilities could you plan for?
There are lots of areas in your life where you have dreams, right? (If you can’t imagine anything, try to reminisce and reflect a little – here’s a short eBook to help you, and it’s free!)
Maybe it’s a vacation, maybe it’s a home, maybe it’s the joy of seeing your babies smile, or waving as they go off to college. Here are some areas to consider:
- health & wellness
Where do you start?
In which area do you begin your plan?
Begin everything in Prayer.
Consider these verses:
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.”
“To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.”
Ask. Seek. Knock.
Making a plan to pursue a dream is important –
but always start by going to the Creator of Heaven and Earth and first inquire of Him .
Encouraging your spouse in prayer.
Pray with your husband or wife – lift up your dreams, your desires, your ideas…
Prayer is an action – it’s like going up in a hot-air balloon together – lifting up your spouse.
Ask the One who knows the future – and has plans for you!
Begin Your Possibilities & Plans in Prayer
Have you considered that prayer is a part of setting goals?
In which areas will you begin to pray? Maybe your spouse is already praying about an area… do you know? Encouragement doesn’t happen in a vacuum – maybe your spouse needs something to encourage you about – pray together to understand which direction the Lord wants you to take.
Leave a comment!
Leave a comment – and be entered to win a book that’ll walk you through a retreat to talk about setting goals. It’s a 48-Hour Relationship Retreat book by Amanda Adams-Barney and Richard Barney. In each of the posts about goalsetting, if you leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win. At the end of February I’ll use Random.org to choose a winner and the Barneys will send that winner a signed copy of their book.
You can enter your name multiple times by leaving a comment on each post in this series on goal-setting. Here are the other posts in this series: Intentional Growth In Your Marriage and 5 Ways to Set Goals Together in Marriage