How 15 Minutes is Changing My Marriage

 Photo Credit:  Bethan  via  Compfight   cc

Photo Credit: Bethan via Compfight cc

My wife has a knack for being painfully honest.

I remember recently coming home from work and telling Christi about my day—who I talked to, what I did, and quite a bit about the projects I had cooking. Visibly irritated, and nearly in tears, Christi looked at me and was—well, painfully honest.

“Why don’t you ask about me? I feel like it’s always about you. You never ask about what’s on my heart.”

#self-centered

Fast forward to a few weeks later. I had the privilege of attending the Cloud-Townsend Ultimate Leadership Event. In a nutshell, you learn about how your own character issues are helping or hindering you from being a great leader. Or in this case, from being a great spouse.

One of my key takeaways from the event was how the most effective and balanced leaders are able to engage both sides of their brain in conversation. I realized when I process my day with Christi, it is usually content based (i.e. what I did, who I talked to, etc.) rather than process based (i.e. what I felt about what I did or who I talked to).

Translation: I need to be more in touch with my feelings.

I know for guys this may sound mushy, but it’s what separates out great husbands, fathers, and leaders. The more I’m in touch with my own feelings, the more mindful I am to what’s going on in Christi’s heart. 

So I came home with a plan, and it’s one I want to challenge each of you to do with me.  

We’ve found it’s too easy to go into a mindless zone after the kids are down, either drowning our sorrows in our favorite TV shows, or numbing our brains and feelings on social media. The former we justify by saying we’re spending time together, the latter we justify as “connecting with others.” In reality, we’re slowly disengaging from our spouse.

So beginning today, carve out 15 minutes of your evening with your spouse and do two things:

1.     Inquire about your spouse’s heart. Literally ask the questions, “What’s on your heart today? How are you feeling?” But here’s the kicker: Make it a priority to not fix anything! Just sit with your spouse, with no condemnation, and listen to his/ her most prevalent feelings from the day. Don’t fix it; just validate it.

2.     Then, share your heart with your spouse. Use feeling words to describe your day. “I felt sad when…” or “I felt angry at…” Simply using feeling words engages both sides of the brain and strengthens our bond with others.

Join with me for 15 minutes each evening.  Let’s all see how much better our marriage is (feelings of connectedness, happiness, communication, sexual satisfaction, etc.) four weeks from now.

Please comment with any fun stories or breakthroughs along your journey.


Joshua Straub, Ph.D. serves as the Marriage and Family Strategist for LifeWay Christian Resources and is the President and Cofounder of The Connextion Group, a company designed to empower parents, spouses and families. Josh speaks and writes on emotionally safe parents and spouses and the influence of technology on today's family. He is the author of the newly released Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well (Waterbrook Multnomah) and along with his wife, Christi, is the producer and co-author of the video curriculum The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st CenturyJosh and his Canadian wife Christi reside in Nashville, TN with their son, Landon, and daughter, Kennedy.

For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century, you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at www.joshuastraub.comand follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.