Too often married couples are like ships passing in the night. Life is busy and while we may be functioning well logistically, it’s likely that we’re missing out on our hearts connecting in a meaningful way. That doesn’t just happen. Connection has to be created. Planned for. Prioritized.
Every marriage needs daily check-ins. They tune us into each other’s lives and they push information to each other.
If you’ve struggled with broken trust or addiction in your marriage (porn, infidelity, substance abuse, etc), check-ins are even more important. Often when hard things have happened, the one who broke the trust just wants to say they’re done and they’ve moved on. However, the one whose trust has been broken desperately needs their loved one to keep the issue on the table in an effort to rebuild trust and deepen intimacy.
This is something you can do at dinner every evening or you might find a better time of the day that will work for you. In general, decide when and then make it a daily habit.
Take turns on who shares first. Use reflective listening for your responses (what I hear you saying is… is that correct?…is there more about that?) Do not speak about your spouse. Speak only about yourself. (Except when you share something you appreciate about them or are proud of them for!)
Here are sentence-starters that work for a daily check-in:
1) One thing I did to strengthen my faith today is OR One thing I learned about myself today is OR One thing I read/heard today that really made me think was OR One thing I did to strengthen my recovery today was…
2) One thing I’m grateful for today is…
3) One way you can pray for me today is…
4) One thing I appreciate about you or I’m proud of you for is…
5) One thing weighing on me right now is…
6) One thing that’s causing anxiety for me today is…
7) One thing I’m excited about today is…
After you’ve both shared, enjoy a one-minute hug. Just hold each other. (We know to some of you that sounds like a CRAZY long time, but trust us! ?)
Notice the first bullet point has four options. If one of you is in some sort of recovery/sobriety, we encourage the one in sobriety to use the phrase, “One thing I did to strengthen my recovery today” at least twice a week so your addiction reality is on the table and being addressed in your marriage. If recovery is not a part of your journey, you can simply use one of the other sentence-starters to share how you strengthened your faith, had a realization about yourself, or read/heard something that made you think today.
There are three reasons for the daily marriage check-in:
1) You’re opening up to each other—building intimacy—into-me-see (great podcast episode with Shaunti Feldhahn where I mention that here.)
2) You’re building safety with each other—safety happens when you listen well and when you talk only about yourself. (Safety is key to these check-ins! No issues are being added into the mix. You’re enjoying tuning into each other’s lives and you’re making it safe to do so.)
3) You’re pushing information to each other and, if you’re in recovery of some kind, you’re pushing information about the recovery practices you are doing.
In addition to daily check-ins, you might also find a weekly marriage meeting could be very valuable. This is when you look at the calendar for the upcoming week, talk about money, and talk about plans for the upcoming weekend. You can also use it to pray together, problem-solve, and plan for the future. Think of it as a business meeting for your marriage that keeps you both in the loop and weighing in on the important things that affect your marriage and family. If you’d like a guide for these kind of meetings, our friends Bill and Pam Farrel have created Marriage Meet-Ups that you might find helpful!
What about you? Do you and your spouse connect on a regular basis? Have any ideas to add to those we’ve shared?
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These are great ideas and insights, Jill. Thank you!
Thank you Kathy!