I am SO excited to share this today. Seriously, this incredible golden nugget of advice just fell into my lap today at my MOPS meeting and I simply can’t not spread it as far and as wide as possible.
I want to keep this fairly short, because you deserve to be able to get to the goods. This is truly life changing advice and I’m dying to implement it into my own marriage TONIGHT.
I do want to give just a smidgen of back story because the source of this advice to me absolutely deserves her credit. This advice was delivered to our MOPS group today via a lovely young mom named Sarah. This advice came to Sarah via a woman she knew who sat Sarah and her soon-to-be husband down and told them she was going to give them advice and that it was going to serve as her wedding present. You might think, “gee, thanks!” but after you hear it, if you’re like me, you totally see that this is an absolute gift. A gift that keeps on giving. It’s incredibly easy to implement weekly. It’s easy to remember, and the rewards are endless. Truly. As soon as Sarah started talking I felt compelled to take notes. I could just tell that she was dropping some serious wisdom on us…
So the way it was put to Sarah, this is an exercise that is intended to be performed weekly “until either one of you dies of Jesus returns.” Why? Because marriage is a relationship that takes and deserves constant communication, fine-tuning, and adjusting.
Here are the guidelines:
- Make real time for this exercise. Wait for the kids to go to bed so that you have time alone to really focus on each other. Turn off all distractions.
- Do this exercise once every week around the same time. Sarah and her husband call them Tuesday Talks.
- Sit closely facing each other. This might feel a little awkward, but marriage should have space for this level of intimate communication.
- There can be no defending, contesting, interjection, or explaining. You will make your statements to the prompts, and then you will listen to your spouse make theirs.
- It is a safe place with no topics off limits. You can address everything from work, extended family, child rearing, sex, finances, housework, dreams, goals, etc. If you feel that it is important enough to be said, then say it.
There are three statement prompts. For each prompt make three statements. Keep the statements straight-forward and honest. Here are the prompts:
- I assume that….
(ex: I assume that you had a good week at work today, I assume that you have something that is bothering you, I assume that you are unhappy with me, etc… This has to do with something that you’ve assumed about your spouse, but perhaps haven’t addressed with them or that they perhaps haven’t expressed to you and that has created a space for you to make assumptions. These can be good or bad.)
- I don’t like it when….
(ex: I don’t like it when you put your dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher, I don’t like it when you stay at work late, I don’t like it when we don’t talk, I don’t like it when you touch me this way, I don’t like it when the house is messy, etc… the goal here is to address things that bother you in a safe and unemotional, but direct way. These are things your spouse may or may not be aware of, or they may not be aware of how much they really mean to you…I mean, to make it to the top three list of the week, they have to mean a lot to you or them, right?)
- I appreciate it when….
(ex: I appreciate it when you make the bed, I appreciate it when you surprise me with flowers, I appreciate it when you give the kids a bath, I appreciate it when you kiss my neck, I appreciate it when you massage my back, I appreciate it when you make my favorite meal. This is an excellent way to communicate your love language to your partner. This affirms them and lets them know what you could use more of to fill your cup. This also gives you insight into what you’re doing that is having a positive impact on your spouse. Maybe you try to get the house spotless every afternoon before they come home from work, but all they really want is a hug and a kiss and a packed lunch the next day.)
- Then, after you have each made your nine statements, don’t talk about any of them for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, if there is anything regarding those nine statements weighing heavily on your mind, sit down together and discuss them calmly. This 30 minute buffer gives you time to process what has been said and to work through it on your end and to try and see it from the perspective of your spouse. The discussion time, if needed, is intended to give you space to perhaps provide context to your spouse about their assumptions and to appreciate and understand why they may have made those assumptions.
I’m absolutely in love with the simplicity of the exercise! I love how easy it is to implement and to carry on forever. I love it offers opportunities to communicate in a safe way. I love how you can address things that your spouse might not know bother you, but that you finish up with letting your spouse know what they’re doing right. I love the opportunity it offers me to see what my spouse needs more of from me and how I can be a better wife to him this week.
The way it was put to Sarah was this way: When your spouse does something that bothers you and you don’t voice it in a safe and even way, it’s like wearing a backpack and putting a rock in it. And you just keep loading these rocks in your backpack until it’s absolutely full and the next time a rock appears, you throw it, and then you tap into the rocks you have packed up and you’re just hurling more and more rocks at your spouse that they didn’t realize you were packing up. This is a safe place to unload your rocks from the week, and it finishes with a note of positivity to reinforce your spouse and their efforts. And as Sarah put it, it’s amazing to see the “I don’t like it whens” turn into the “I appreciate it whens.”
Anyways, I’ve loved being married (we’re going on six years this spring!), and I so appreciate when advice like this comes my way. Communication is the key, and I love how this simple approach provides such an easy and safe way to address the goods and the bads regularly so that we can fine tune as we go to make sure that we’re still meeting our spouse’s needs and showing them love in a way that they appreciate.
Is this something that you can see yourself implementing in your marriage? What’s the best marriage advice you’ve been given?