Being approachable and available to your spouse wasn’t difficult in the beginning of your relationship, was it?
Before you and your spouse married, while you were dating, I highly suspect you did whatever you could to remain open, accessible, and available to your girlfriend or boyfriend. It was fun to connect.
- If he/she called you on the phone, you rushed to answer it.
- If he/she quietly hinted they would like to go to the park, or a movie, or a game, or just go for a drive, your mind immediately swirled with ideas on how you could make that happen.
- If he/she gently squeezed your hand and smiled, you responded in an appropriate manner, maybe by returning a smile and raising your eyebrows to indicate you understood what they were saying.
In other words, while you were dating, you inherently understood the value of approachability.
As a differentiating value, Approachability means
being easy to meet or deal with; accessible.
How many couples lose this value after getting married? Or, as time goes by, and responsibilities rise, there might be a significant loss of availability and accessibility. But it doesn’t have to be like this…
Being approachable is a choice. Make it a priority.
Here are 10 ways you can be approachable – some are small and might seem trivial. Others are huge and take constant practice. Let your spouse know how much you respect and value her/him by renewing and increasing the value of approachability in your marriage.
10 Ways to Remain Approachable to Your Spouse
Demonstrate that your spouse is #1. When you or your spouse come home, ensure greeting your spouse is your first priority. (You both love your children and pets – but your spouse has precedence! Make it a game to race the kids/pets to the door!) There’s enough time in the day/week/month that you’re not together with the person you love — when you reunite, if it’s within hours, days or weeks, let greeting your spouse be your first activity to prove your approachability.
Give your undivided attention. When your spouse approaches you with the need to talk, stop what you are doing (reading, email, watching TV, etc.) and give them your full and complete attention. Eye contact. Body language. It’s all a part of being approachable.
Be open to new ideas. When your spouse says “I have an idea…” don’t respond with an apprehensive “Uh-oh!” Instead, respond positively, try saying “Tell me about it.” There’s enough negativity and critics in the world – be available and encouraging.
Use appropriate communication tools. When trying to resolve a conflict, remove the emotional element of the topic by evaluating it with a relevant tool, such as the 10-point scale (e.g. “On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it …?”). Learning to be approachable even in tight spots where emotion can take over, is a learned action. Put some work into gathering some communication tools ahead of a crisis.
Make technology your friend. Use a special ringtone on your cell phone, so you know when your spouse is calling. And answer the phone when they call! Text often – even if it’s just a happy face or a kiss emoji… Be humorous. Being approachable can be fun.
Never simply leave. When in the middle of a conversation with your spouse and you sense he/she has more they want to say but you need to attend to an urgent matter (e.g. a crying baby, visiting the restroom), don’t just leave. Briefly explain what you need to do and why. So many misunderstandings would never happen, if couples could understand their spouse’s actions/reactions, instead of being left to guess. Remember – being approachable means “easy to meet and deal with”.
Ask open-ended questions. Use questions that explore an idea, and ask for an opinion. Part of being approachable as a spouse is not closing down a conversation with a yes/no question or response. Practice conversation with interesting questions. Try A Year of Questions – a free downloadable from The Generous Wife. You’ll be astounded at all you didn’t know about each other!
Set a time to talk. It’s OK to state you can’t mentally or emotionally deal with an issue or conflict at this specific moment. But don’t leave it hanging. Provide a time when you expect you will be able to deal with it (e.g. “Let’s
talk about this after dinner this evening.”)
Never cross your arms. When having a conversation with your spouse, crossing your arms is a sign of being closed-off – and not accessible. It’s ok to tuck your hands in your pockets or lean against a wall. Let your physical stature show you are open to what he or she has to share. Instead of crossing your arms, try holding hands!
Be available. No need to hide. Your spouse should always know where you are or how to get a hold of you.
Approachability has a direct link to respect.
When you remain approachable to your spouse, you’re showing you respect him or her. You are also modeling a healthy relationship for your children, and all those who surround you.
How can you be accessible and approachable to your spouse today? (Don’t procrastinate because you’re too busy – that’s just a slippery slope!)