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Have you listened to the words you speak to your spouse?

I love to buy those conversation hearts for everyone on Valentine’s Day.  They are filled with sweet, affirming words.

When I listen to my conversation with my husband, sometimes it’s more like the phrases in the picture here.

Short snippets that convey information or voice a grievance.  Sometimes when you’ve been married a long time, this is what every day talk sounds like.

Can I encourage you to breathe some fresh air into your conversation with your spouse, no matter how long you have been married?

I know you’re thinking, “How the heck do I do that?  We’re out of our minds with being busy and worrying about stuff!”

I get it.  Life is stressful.  Marriage is stressful.  Put the two together and you can feel like you’re off the stress meter.

However, putting two lives together and speaking kind words of life and grace to one another can be one of life’s greatest comforts.

  1. Resist the automatic response of irritation. You know what I mean.  You’ve had a long day and the last thing you want to hear is someone telling you something that needs doing.  But have you ever noticed how easy it is to go from indifference to irritation?

For us, the hour immediately following coming home from work was a sensitive time.  If the kids or I bombarded my husband as soon as he came in the door, it was doomed to be a cranky evening.  Because he was tired and human, if he got immediately dumped on, he would often go to the automatic response of irritation.

What did we do to deal with this?  Learned to give him some space.

When you come home from a stressful time, what do you want or need?

I want or need some calm, maybe some soothing, and some peace.

Think about that when your worlds come together at the end of the work day.  How do YOU want to be treated?  Then extend that to your spouse.

  1. Take a look at the topics you talk about. If they are always the same, your conversation may become stale and predictable.  The kids, the job, what needs to be done around the house … these are the topics we all NEED to talk about.   But what if you could insert just a few minutes of WANT TO TALK ABOUT into the daily allotment of NEED TO TALK ABOUT.

Having a hard time coming up with things to talk about?  Think about meeting a new friend.  What would you like to know about them?  Ask the questions you don’t already know the answers to!  Here are some ideas:

  • If you could go anywhere in the world to visit and money wasn’t an issue, where would you go and why?
  • Do you have an interest, hobby or passion you’ve always wanted to pursue, but haven’t had time?
  • What scares you?
  • If your life was a movie, who would star as YOU?
  • What would be an ideal birthday celebration for you?
  1. Have a new experience together. I know.  You’re too busy.  It’s that mindset that makes life loose its luster.  There are slices of interest, joy and passion you can share that are not time consuming or overwhelming.  Of course, if you HAVE the time, you can do much more.

Need some ideas?  Here they are, from the simple to the more complex.

  • Read a book together. Have your own book club!
  • Visit a new nature area that you haven’t been to before. Think forest preserves or nature centers.
  • You aren’t limited to just going to the movies together. Go to a different kind of show, like a live play, an auto show, an antique exhibit.
  • Explore a hobby together. One couple I know makes their own wine.  Another makes stained glass pieces.  How about pottery or photography?  A hobby can be efficient or luxuriously time-consuming.
  • Volunteer together. Even an hour a week in the church nursery is a huge blessing to others.  The needs in any community are great.  Explore food pantries, shelters, retirement residences, schools and any other agency providing a service to your community.  It is a joy to serve, and it is a special joy to serve together.

We can be well married and still have lively, vibrant conversations.  Make the effort, take the effort.

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