It’s relationship week on Paired Style and I had a little bit of trouble coming up with what to write about. I have only been married 116 days. I am nowhere close to being a marriage expert. Now, if you want to talk about dating the wrong guys or being single, I’m your girl. But marriage is is still a very mysterious thing to me. Andrew and I got engaged about 9 months after our first date and had a 7 month engagement so things were fairly quick for us. Because of that, I feel like I haven’t really known him that long. I learn new things about him all the time. We did a lot of pre-marital counseling before we got married though. That helped us to talk about a lot of the important things before we said "I do". We also read a lot of books, asked questions to married people, and listened to marriage podcasts about what a healthy marriage based on Jesus should look like. And we do a lot of the same things today.
Even though it’s only been about 4 months since I’ve been married, I have already figured out that no matter how much preparation you do, marriage will always be a surprise. It’s a lot of learning on the job. On the days when it’s feeling like more of a job or when we are having trouble connecting we have a few questions we learned in pre-marital classes that help us communicate with and understand each other better. I’m grouping these the way they were taught to us, but I think you could switch it up as long as the main idea behind the questions persists.
"The Daily Temperature Reading"* -
I love this one. We learned it from one of the workbooks we did for pre-martial counseling, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts. I highly recommend it. Five easy questions that have taught me a ton about staying in tune with one another.
- Appreciation - Take turns telling your spouse something you appreciate them doing and express your gratitude. (We like to use this time to just tell one another something we really like about each other too.)
- New Information - Fill your spouse in on something that happened during your day. It can be something big, like a promotion, or small like a conversation you had with a coworker. The goal is to make sure your partner is informed about what is going on in your life.
- Puzzles - This is when you ask your partner about something you don't understand. It can be something about them or something about yourself. For example, you could say, "I got upset about my friend not texting me back the other day and I'm not sure why." or, "Why were you acting a little distant last night?"
- Complaint with Request - Opportunity to voice something you would like your spouse to do differently. This is a great way to express the little stuff that you want to pretend doesn't bother you. This way it doesn't get bottled up and become a bigger deal. An example would be when my husband told me "If you leave the coffee grounds in the coffee maker all day it can get a little gross, could you try to clean them out before you leave in the AM?" (This is a fair request since he is the one that makes the coffee everyday.)
- Hopes - Talk about anything that you are hoping for, ranging from something big like a raise, to something small, like warmer weather.
We switch the order of these questions so appreciation is before hopes in order to end more positively. It’s easy to get caught up in the day and not focus on our relationship. These questions are our reset button. They work great for us because I tend to give all my opinions and need to learn to encourage more than be critical. And it's perfect for Andrew because he is so chill. These encourage him to voice things he would like to see change.
Also, this is a fantastic book and workbook even if you are already married. They have other helpful questions and exercises in it as well, but this is our most frequently used. Nope, not a sponsored post.
Love Tank -
This question is a great way to talk about feeling loved in a different way. We learned it in a class we took at our church about love languages. (Same one Aubrey mentioned.) It’s not saying you need to do better at loving me. Instead this question says I feel loved by you, but if you wanted to make me feel even more loved by you, this would be a great way to do that. Here’s how the exchange happens in our house:
Me: Andrew, where’s your love tank at?
Andrew: Probably a 7.
Me: How could I bring it up to an 8?
Andrew: You could sit with me and talk with me about my day.
See, very simple questions, but a great way to get your partner to enable you to show your love to them in the way they want to feel it.
Rate how much you care -
I am a lot more outwardly emotional than Andrew. Sometimes it's hard for me to pick up on how much he cares about something because he’s so laid back about it. When we are discussing something and I start to get an inkling that he cares more than he’s letting on I’ll ask him to rate how much he cares about it on a scale from 1 to 10. Or, if we are having trouble deciding on something, i.e. where to eat dinner, we will each rate how much we care on a scale of one to ten and the one who cares more decides. It has been a great tool for us for sure. We can both be a little indecisive. Right Andrew? ;)
This question also came from Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts.
I’m interested to hear what you all think about these questions! Helpful? Corny? Too obvious? Do you have questions you ask your spouse to stay connected? Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment to us on Insta!
*Credit to Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts for "The Daily Temperature Reading" and the "Rating" how much you care idea.
All pictures in the above post were by Compass Wedding Collective.