I was traveling much of last week and when I was home, Billy or I had evening commitments that made it feel as if we were ships passing in the night. Most of what we talked about were schedules (flight times, guitar lessons, babysitter start times, blah, blah, blah.)
In those times, I realized there’s an interesting phenomenon that happens in marriage when life gets busy; good communication is a struggle.
Even if you communicate frequently, the tendency is to talk logistics or to cover only the most pressing “need to know” information. Billy and I cover a ton of information via text messages or quick calls. If you’re like we are, you have to handle talking through a huge list of necessary information:
- School logistics
- Babysitting details
- “I’m running late” info
- Extended family news
- Car/Sprinkler/Appliance/Computer (anything with an on/off switch) breakdown/repair news
- And, of course, what to have for dinner
While these topics are necessary, they aren’t interesting.
Most marriages don’t suffer because people don’t communicate information. No, relationships suffer because people stop talking about things that matter. They trade what’s important for what’s trivial. Relationships don’t survive if they live entirely in the maintenance zone. You have to talk about things that matter and, more significantly, topics that matter to your spouse. That begs the question: what matters to your spouse?
The answer is easier than you might imagine. What matters is whatever your spouse is interested in.
And I mean What.Ever. I realize this sounds simplistic. But when’s the last time you initiated a conversation with your spouse on a topic that matters to them?
- Do you care about their project at work?
- Are you interested in how their relationship with their co-worker is going?
- Did you ask how that last round of golf went?
- What about their gardening project? Are the plants thriving?
- How are they feeling about _____ (fill in the blank)?
If you have to work hard to remember when you’ve asked these questions, then it’s time to get back to working on your connections with your spouse. The bottom line is this:
The best way to be interesting TO your spouse is to be interested IN your spouse.
So tap into your best investigative reporter skills and ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. When you hear the answers, ask follow-up questions.
Busyness interferes with the basics of connections, so get back to basics. I’ll follow up with you to see how it’s going!