Asking My Spouse These 2 Questions Every Week Keeps Our Bond Strong

My mother-in-law sent a text myself and my spouse this past week that contained this article. It was a great observation that many couples probably go through. I know me personally I have often asked my wife the same non-starter conversation starters. Even when I am really engaged in finding out about her day the opener really needs something.

Take a look at this article I have posted it below.

Hope you enjoy it too.

Arthur Poston Jr.


Recently, my husband, Marc, and I started testing out a new ritual. We are habit people and find that when we can put key aspects of our connection on autopilot — that is, we get them to happen without having to think too much about making them happen — we find each other more in the slightly chaotic, sometimes harried, often muddled, basket weave that is life.

For over a decade, we’ve carved the habit of a weekly date night into our family blueprint, amassing a dugout of equally delightful and reliable babysitters and teaching our kids that mom and dad time is the norm, no different than morning breakfast or nightly tuck-ins. It’s just what we do. This is simply how the Manieri family rolls.

Call us overly self-indulgent, but we find that after 13 years of marriage, we’d actually like even more couple time together (gasp!). Sure, we see each other every day, but the bevy of hurried, innocuous, and sometimes snippy interactions Marc and I experience throughout our busy day feel more like baton passes in a relay than anything close to a meaningful connection.

So we’ve started the practice of meeting once a week for tea (wine or seltzer works just as well if that’s your fancy). And rather than let the day’s headlines or our endless checklist guide our conversation (i.e. Did you call the roofer? Should I book the flight before it gets too expensive? Are you going to call the bank about those extra fees?), we anchor our interlude in two questions that have completely changed how we spend those 30 minutes together: “What would you like to be acknowledged for?” and “What would you like me to know about your life?”

Notice that these are different from “How are you?” or “What’s going on?” which usually elicit fairly standard and bland responses such as “fine” or “not much.” These questions require the responder to actually reflect, step inside themselves, and call something deeper to the surface. And when my husband asks me these two questions, the floodgates of my inner world literally break open.

What would you like to be acknowledged for?

For starters, this question immediately sends the message to me that the often thankless and mostly unnoticed work I do to keep our family and business humming matter to him. Being asked what I would like to be acknowledged for launches an internal inquiry that truly gives me pause. Hmm, what would I like to be acknowledged for? What is something I’ve done lately that deserves a little credit?

It’s not about praise or pats on the back, two things I care little about. In Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, I place “Words of Affirmation” at the very bottom of my list of ways I feel loved. (“Quality Time” and “Acts of Service” are tied for top position for me.) I don’t crave recognition or get a sense of elation when I receive them. But I do want to feel seen. The opportunity to say what I want to be acknowledged for, gives me the chance to feel known, noticed, relevant, and appreciated, and that has enormous connective benefits for our relationship.

External appreciation has tremendous value, but here’s the thing: the real juice actually lives in the way that speaking my accomplishment out aloud (no matter how big or small) allows me to acknowledge myself. I get to unearth and underscore my tiny triumphs for the sake of my own recognition and notice. I’ve asked to be acknowledged for big things — like when I was nominated for an award! — and seemingly small things, like how I held my temper with the kids when they couldn’t find their shoes and we were already late. Marc speaks his appreciation for my feats, and then we switch so I can do the same for him.

What would you like me to know about your life?

In my experience, this question has such a different spirit from “What’s going on?” It’s not asking for a laundry list of to-dos. It’s recognizing that even married people, who live their lives in parallel, have their own distinct worlds they move in, and it invites each other into those worlds.

“I want you to know that I’m really worried about my dad, and it’s really hard to see his health fail.”

“I want you to know that I’d like to start spending more time with my friend Erica, and I wondered if it would work for us if she and I met for a walk on Wednesday mornings before the kids go to school.”

“I want you to know that I believe Elizabeth is having a tough time with your travel schedule, and I think it would be really good if you took her out for dinner, just the two of you, this weekend.”

“I want you to know that I’m so looking forward to getting away together next month. I really miss you.”

There’s a level of revealing and disclosure that this question seems to tap into. It offers me the opportunity to search for an answer I probably haven’t been totally present too. It’s amazing how worry or inquiry or concern or anticipation can hum away in the background like radio static. And then we look right at it, actually take stock of our life and all the balls we’ve tossed in the air, and boom, it’s like someone has tuned the dial perfectly.

It’s not always groundbreaking. Sometimes I want him to know that I think the cats have fleas again, that he really needs to move those boxes into the attic, that I’m really tired of how much chicken we eat for dinner, or that I started listening to a new podcast that I think he’d love, too.

Not every conversation is going to have us baring our souls, but some will. The point is the opportunity, the invitation, is there if we choose it. What bubbles or is beckoned to the shallows gives us the chance to reveal a glimpse into our world neither our partner nor even sometimes ourselves knew was incubating.

It all boils down to this: I matter. You matter. And even if we experience feeling truly significant nowhere else in the world but in the company of our spouse, the practice of being seen and known (even just by one single person) can be everything.

 

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Go Small to Go Big

“My brother, here’s your WiRE for today ==>”

Go Small to Go Big

So then, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to everyone—Galatians 6:10

Once we’ve decided to do something, we men often like to “go big.” We think to ourselves: if we’re going to do this thing, let’s really do it. We can bring this kind of thinking, this “go big” mentality, to all kinds of work, even the work God calls us into—that is, the work of loving and serving others. Great things can result, of course. But the mentality can backfire, too—for example, when we set our ambitions too high, get overwhelmed, and can’t follow through. It’s interesting that, knowing us as he does, our King, Jesus Christ, suggests an opposite approach:

“This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice” (Matthew 10:40-42 MSG).

Start small! Why does something rise up in our hearts, against that approach? Well, it’s mostly because by “going big” we hope to grab a little glory for ourselves. We want others to see us and think well of us. And if we don’t “go big,” they might not actually see our accomplishments. But, Jesus reassures us: “You won’t lose out on a thing” (Matthew 10:42 MSG). We must trust his words and trust that God the Holy Spirit can do amazing things within even our smallest, most ordinary acts of love and service. And that’s plenty big for any of us.

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You’re Designed for Extremes

“My brothers, here’s your WiRE for today ==>”

You’re Designed for Extremes

I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.
Would that you were either cold or hot—Revelation 3:15

There are three approaches to life with God: All In; All Out; and, in the middle, between those, a third approach. This third approach is actually a range—it encompasses every approach between the two extremes. Many of us take the third approach. I mean, we do believe life is better with God—but, our belief is more theoretical than not. We get busy with our careers, families, finances, and rarely think about actually applying the life and truth of our King, Jesus Christ, to our own, complicated lives. And so, they become indistinguishable from the lives of men All Out.

Jesus calls takers of the third approach “lukewarm,” and is particularly frustrated by us: “because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16). We third-approachers mistakenly presume we’re doing okay faith-wise—not as well as we could maybe, but okay nonetheless. Therefore, Jesus’ words are startling and challenging—and force us to consider All In.

So, what does All In require? The world tells us, too much. But, that’s wrong. It doesn’t require more than we can give. Brother, we’re designed for All In. Jesus isn’t some out-of-touch “high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). He understands our lives. He knows what he’s asking. All In doesn’t require we be perfect; we couldn’t. It requires a soft heart―a willingness to try, genuinely, to use Jesus’ life as a pattern for our own.

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Man, What’s the Point?

For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked—Psalm 73:3

Do you ever look around, at people who are prosperous and follow God either not much or not at all? Do you ever find yourself envying such people, who embrace the world wholeheartedly and enjoy it’s successes? Do you ever get discouraged? Do you ever wonder, what’s the point? I mean, do you ever just get tired of trying to follow God in the midst of people who aren’t? Are you ever tempted to relent and embrace the world a bit more, too? 

A man named Asaph, psalmist in the time of David and Solomon, was tempted to relent. He was surrounded by faithless men who seemed “always at ease” and to continually “increase in riches” (Psalm 73:12). Asaph envied them and his “heart was embittered” (Psalm 73:21). “All in vain,” he cried, “have I kept my heart clean . . .” (Psalm 73:13). We may not admit it as boldly as Asaph, but many of us harbor similar thoughts.

When we face that choice, though, to embrace God or embrace the world, we must remember—we’re part of something much larger, much more important than houses or vacations or titles. We’ve been invited into an ancient and remarkable battle. For “we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). We’re agents of the resistance, behind enemy lines. We cannot allow ourselves, therefore, to be beguiled by our enemy or the world under his power.

Okay, so what do we do?

Are you ever, like Asaph, nagged by this kind of envy? If so, talk about it. Simply talking about it—with God, a spouse, a friend, with brothers in community—undermines its power. It also allows others to keep you “fueled and aflame” for the battle ahead (Romans 12:11 MSG).

Thanks for reading, these are the words from a devotional that I read throughout the week called the Wire?. I hope they inspire you as they have me.

Arthur Poston Jr.

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The Next Chapter

. . . he is a new creation. The old has passed away;
behold, the new has come—2 Corinthians 5:17

We write with God all the time. Working alongside him, we write the stories of our lives. He creates the settings and the characters. He creates the conflicts—the situations requiring choices. And we get to make those choices as the characters in his stories. God may encourage us, invite us, surprise us, persuade us, challenge us, convict us—but we and we alone decide, for ourselves.

As we move along in our stories, as we live them out, we sometimes try to convince ourselves that some decisions aren’t actually written down or that we can selectively somehow strike decisions from our stories, after we’ve made them. Looking forward, we tell ourselves, “no one will know.” Looking back, we think, “no one can ever know.” The truth is, every decision is captured: large, small, good, bad. Every decision is written into our stories, immediately, indelibly.

Thankfully, the plot God intends for us involves making some mistakes, some bad decisions, but learning from them and allowing him to redeem them. He can, you know, redeem even the worst decisions (Romans 8:28). What we must do, going forward, is to keep our stories in mind, when we come upon decision points. What we must do is ask ourselves, at those points, “What decisions do we want to be written, permanently, into our stories?” Asking ourselves that, in those moments, is how we begin to lay aside our old selves and put on our new selves (Ephesians 4:22-24).

Okay, so what do we do?

When you come to a next decision point—today, tomorrow—ask yourself, before you decide, “What do I want to be written into my story?” Ask yourself, “What do I want the next chapter of my story to be about? Trust or mistrust? Selflessness or selfishness? Love or resentment? Maturity or immaturity? Redemption or sin?”

If these words impacted you today, send them on!

These words are from the WiRE’s email publication that I receive twice a week.

Thanks for reading,

Arthur Poston Jr.

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Irresponsible Worry

And which of you by being anxious 
can add a single hour to his span of life?—Matthew 6:27

Something’s coming. Doesn’t it always feel like that? Maybe it’s something financial . . . maybe work-related . . . maybe health-related . . . definitely bad. And so, we worry. I mean, it almost feels like that’s just a part of being a man, worrying about what’s coming. We worry about all the bad things that could happen, to us and to our loved ones. We scheme about how to get out in front of all those things. Then we worry some more about whether we’re actually men enough to execute our schemes. All this worrying hangs over our lives. It haunts our thoughts and steals important moments—moments that should be joy-filled.

But, it would be irresponsible not to worry, wouldn’t it? We’ve been trained to worry, all our lives. We’ve been trained that men with responsibilities are supposed to worry. It’s part of manhood.

Or is it? Our King, Jesus Christ, teaches us that it’s actually not. You see, he didn’t come so that we’d live lives haunted by fear. He came and died to set us free from such things (Galatians 5:1). He assures us, our Father God will take care of us, whether we worry or not (Matthew 6:26). We must, therefore, adopt a radical, new mindset: “We don’t know what’s coming . . . but our Father God does. So, we’ll leave it to him.

Okay, so what do we do?

Letting go of worry is tough. You must approach it not only intellectually, but practically too. You cannot simply command yourself, “worry less.” That, by itself, doesn’t work so well. You must get practical by actually talking about worries with a spouse, a friend, with brothers in community. That does work (2 Corinthians 12:9). Getting your worries out into the open is as powerful as it is counter intuitive. So, brother, defy your instincts.

If these words impacted you today, send them on! Share them:

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