Are we assuming we know how our spouses want to receive love or how they feel more respected? This question changed my marriage for the better!

Just 3 Things: The Conversation that Changed My Marriage

By Contributing Writer, Victoria

The conversation didn’t go as expected. In fact, I was totally caught off guard.

During our weekly meeting, my husband and I were sitting down going over our calendars and talking about our family. At the end of our meeting we always open it up to share any concerns or questions we might be having. This is when we work through any conflicts or share about events that didn’t go quite as expected.

Sometimes it’s a hard conversation where we have to call out sin in one another. Other times it’s more lighthearted where we share dreams, goals and visions for our family.

That day was a day that caught me off guard… for a good reason.

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The week before we had spent our Saturday at a marriage conference hosted by our church. Even though I had an 8 week old newborn strapped to my chest, it was a time of encouragement, building up and challenges to improve our marriage. We left with a workbook of “date night” activities and questions to work through over the coming months.

My husband, who is much more intentional than I in certain areas, pulled out the workbook during our meeting and randomly opened it up to one of the activities and began reading the prompted question,

“If you had to choose just three things for your spouse to focus on, what would they be?”

The question was designed for us to think through what we spend our time and energy on and if it is actually something that improves our marriage.

Is what we spend most of our energy on and deem important really beneficial to our spouses?

I thought I had this down, after all being the creative home keeper that I am, most of my energy and focus was on making sure our home is clean and maintained, nutritional and balanced meals made, and the children are cared for and nurtured.

So when my husband shared his three things he wished I would focus on more, I was shocked. His responses were:

I love that you respect me and show me love but I wish you would kiss me and show me as much affection as you show the kids.

I know your days are long and tiring but instead of making sure the house is picked up when I get home, I would love to see you take the time and energy to focus on your appearance.

I know baseball isn’t your favorite thing but it’s one of mine. I would love for you to join me when I watch games so we can spend time together.”

I was shocked at how different his responses would be than what I thought.

Here I was spending so much time focusing on the home and our children (which are legitimate things to focus on) but what my husband shared with me was that he felt I was neglecting him in ways.

As young moms it is so easy to get wrapped up in the daily demands of our home and children. Our little ones require so much from us in these first years of their lives. While it’s our joy and responsibility to shape and mold their lives, we can’t put so much energy and attention into them that we neglect the one physical relationship that is our first priority after our relationship with God.

If we want a strong family we have to prioritize our relationships with our husbands.

After sharing his first initial responses, we dug deeper. Never realizing that I stopped showering my husband with physical acts of affection, I became aware that I had.

Somewhere along the business of young ones, or maybe just being too “touched out” during the day, I stopped greeting him with a kiss when he came home. We stopped holding hands when walking together. I stopped making the effort to get dressed every day, instead wearing yoga pants and lounge wear much longer than acceptable. I stopped asking him about his hobbies and passions.

To be fair, he didn’t simply share these concerns and leave me alone to accomplish them. We had a conversation about how we could both work on initiating physical contact in our busy days. He offered to make sure I could get a shower in every morning before he left for work, watching the children so I could get dressed for the day I wanted to have.

He even offered to let me read or work on the laptop while I sat next to him on the couch in the evenings. While I have since grown to love baseball, it was more about just sitting down next to one another relaxing at the end of a long day.

And yes, in case you were wondering, we also had the reversal conversation where I shared the 3 things I would like him to focus on too.

This simple exercise of sharing just 3 things has changed our marriage… for the better.

We are now more intune with one another. We don’t have to guess as to what areas our spouses wished to receive more love, respect and affirmation.

Have you had a similar conversation with your husband recently?

I would highly suggest making the time to sit down and pray with your husband. Set aside time where you know the kids won’t be interrupting and the distractions are limited. Take turns sharing your hearts, offering suggestions and really listen to your spouse’s words.

And don’t just make this a one-time conversation either. My husband and I sit down together every week but we also build in times to talk about our marriage as well.

In what ways have you seen your marriage change and grow through enlightening conversations?

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11 Comments

  1. I feel like I just read an entire post about ME! This is almost the same conversation my husband and I had yesterday. I work myself to the bone everyday keeping to my cleaning schedule, meal planning and prep, and teaching and nurturing my two little girls. By the time my husband comes home, I am exhausted to the point where I don’t even want to talk! Thanks for this encouraging and convicting post- I feel like it is God showing me an area in my life that needs a makeover 🙂

  2. Your spouse comes first. Period. Not the kids, not the house, not your job. And voice of experience here: we have been married 40+ years.

    1. Absolutely, Karen! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I’ve been happily married for 20 years and with 9 children, 5 miscarriages, and all the regular busyness of life in general and that exhaustion at the end of the day, it’s easy to forget that wonderful man in my life. Still working on improving – although my hub always says he’s very happy, I still see (very) clearly areas I can work on!
      Victoria, great post! Keep it up and have a great day:)

  3. Wow, you are a stronger woman than I am! If my husband asked me to focus on my appearance more I would burst into tears. That would cut me deep. Did that not insult you?

    1. Hi Caitie I am a very sensitive person by nature and it did not offend me mainly because it wasn’t communicated in a negative or disrespectful way. It was a fact spoken in love and grace. It wasn’t just a request and then let me figure it out on my own, my husband helped me to find time to better take care of myself.

      It also should be noted that before going into this conversation, we knew we would be helping and lifting each other up not tearing each other down. So when my husband was sharing with me 3 areas he wanted me to focus on, my heart was open to seeing it from his perspective.

  4. What did the “date night” work book consist of? Is there any chance that you can share the contents?