My husband and I have had a challenging relationship from the beginning. I was the baby of my family by a lot of years, so I really was like an “only.” My husband was truly an “only” with the added bonus of being raised in a kid-centric home. These and other issues are the makings of a marriage bound for a train wreck, or at least, for getting off track. And, I must say, it probably would have happened if God had not intervened and reminded us of what was important!
After years of letting little issues simmer and mull until they erupted into full-blown, spewing volcanos, we (or rather “I”–with the help of God) decided that we needed to deal with the issues while they were still cool and manageable. So I convinced my husband that we needed a specific time each week to touch base, discuss our lives and get to know one another better.
Now at first we (or rather “I”) allowed just about everything to be brought up during this sacred time. However, when I began to realize that my husband was not just dreading, but passively avoiding the talk time because it either degenerated into a gripe session or an argument, I knew I had better bring in some healthy boundaries!
So once a week, we would have a “positive” talk time. We would avoid discussing heated problems or resentments. Our purpose was to engage, educate and enrich our relationship–not belittle, bombard or bash. Sometimes we would read a section of a book together and discuss it. Sometimes we had a devotional and prayer time. Sometimes we would do a communication exercise. Occasionally, we even did some very positive problem solving with a problem that we had already worked through emotionally and prayerfully. And sometimes we just talked about a good and bad experience we had in our day–never veering near the “blaming” side of things.
It was amazing what began to happen. We began to notice that the frequency of our arguments began to lessen, and when we did fight it wasn’t as heated. Of course, the opposite became true whenever we missed our usual talk time. Arguments increased and distance just seemed to hover over us.
This past year has been a difficult one for us to keep our streak going. My husband, Gary, is the small groups pastor at our church and leads several small groups in the evening when we usually have our talk time. Since the Spring of 08 he’s led, off and on, groups on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Then on Thursday nights he is busy writing the small group Bible study for the next week. Needless to say, our talk time has taken a backseat to these other priorities. And I think that Gary and I both know that it has taken a toll on our relationship.
In spite of that difficulty, we recommitted ourselves to getting back to this practice just a few months ago. And then most recently, we had another reminder to make it a priority while attending a marriage retreat through our church, Metro.
I really want to connect with my husband regularly and I know it is extremely necessary to the health of our marriage. We both see how it helps, and we also see how it hurts us when we don’t do it. I would encourage you, if you don’t already do something similar, to try it–Talk Time–I think you’ll like it!