If I asked you for a list of essential skills for an amazing marriage, odds are you would put communication near the top. Every aspect of human interaction relies upon communication. Communication is about listening and sharing.
When I think about communication, I see my wife and myself sitting on the couch discussing some aspect of our lives. In your mind, great communication may look similar or perhaps completely different.
One aspect of communication we don’t often consider, though, is the questions we ask. Great communicators know that the quality of the conversation and therefore the quality of the relationship depends on the quality of the questions.
Below are seven questions I often ask — some to myself and others to my wife — to help us have an amazing marriage:
1. What can I do for you right now?
This very minute, what is the greatest need I can satisfy? It may be a normal task such as watching the kids for the evening or taking care of the laundry. It may be as deep as to sit and hold each other and just bask in the glow of shared love. Sometimes there is nothing to be done, and that’s OK, too.
2. Is this a good time?
I like to do what I want to do, and I like to do it right now. But to be considerate of my spouse, I need to pay attention to both her schedule and her current emotional state. It’s not always a bad time, but asking the question will let her know I will wait until she’s ready, no matter the situation.
3. Will you please forgive me?
We don’t often like to admit fault, but none of us is perfect. When I blow it, I'm quick to ask for forgiveness. I used to be a lot more arrogant and selfish — assuming I was usually in the right. Now I do my best to recognize my own errors or gracefully accept criticism when she points out with kindness where I could improve.
4. Can you help me understand?
I’m a man and don’t always know exactly what’s going on. Frankly, at times I’m a bit dense. Making yourself vulnerable by admitting ignorance is the best way to learn. I never hear “if you loved me, you wouldn’t have to ask.” In our relationship, if one asks for assistance in understanding the other is happy to help.
5. Would you like my input?
We share a lot about what is going on outside our relationship. Things that happen with our business, church, children, friends, etc. Like a lot of men, my first inclination when I hear a problem is to offer a solution. But sometimes she just wants a listening ear. Asking whether or not she wants my input makes it clear I’m there in whatever way she needs me.
6. Do you have a dream or goal you'd like to accomplish?
I love this question! Although we don’t often ask it in those exact words, it comes up as a topic at various intervals. Keeping your spouse’s goals and dreams at the top of your mind allows you to be both a cheerleader and a helper at the appropriate times.
7. How do I make this the best possible life for you?
I don’t think I have ever asked this question out loud. But I take conscious steps every single day to give her the happiest possible life. You may not be able to give your spouse everything he or she wants in life. In fact, that would not be a great mission. It's better to do whatever you can to enable her or him to be the best version of themselves.
What kind of questions can we ask to have amazing marriages? Questions that make us better spouses. Each of us can be a better husband or wife by listening, serving, asking for help, encouraging, and paying attention. Understanding comes through learning and applying that knowledge.
Making a conscious effort to frequently ask questions in your relationship will draw you closer. Ask powerful questions of each other and allow your love for one another to provide answers that are genuine and filled with grace and kindness.
What other questions do you ask to have an amazing marriage?