Remember when someone tried to teach you about good manners by asking, "what's the magic word?" When asking for a favor, including the word "please" is magical because showing simple gratitude demonstrates investment in the relationship. Like a garden needs seeding, weeding, and watering, marriages don’t just happen, but require cultivation. We have found that some basic questions are "magic" because they are simple yet show investment that helps weed and water your relationship. To magically improve your marriage, use these six important questions regularly.
The first way to invest in your marriage is to tune into how your spouse is feeling about the facts. A spouse can share lots of information (and we can ask lots of questions) without actually noticing the emotional impact the day has had. We all have a desire for someone to witness our life and affirm our experience, so hearing about your spouse's day is not as important as hearing about how they felt about their day. Listen to the facts and ask a "How did you feel about that?" question to get at the depths of their heart. Asking about feelings is a way to be invited into your spouse’s emotional world. Bless your spouse by giving them the opportunity to be heard.
It takes courage to seek restoration for a relationship. Sometimes we screw up. Sometimes circumstances are just a mess. Either way, feelings get hurt, and it is a powerful investment in the relationship to say you are sorry and ask, "Would you please forgive me?" Lamenting the problems together shows humility to move the relationship toward healing. Without forgiveness bridging the pain in the relationship, walls of resentment arise and create division. Lead the way on the path to restoration.
Marriages take teamwork, yet it's easy to take each other for granted and forget to affirm another's work. One of the best ways to recognize the work your spouse is doing is to willingly step into their challenge. Asking the question, ""How can I help?" creates a bond of partnership because it notices struggle, affirms effort, and offers to prioritize your spouse's problems. There may not always be a way to fix things, but having a willingness to lend a hand shows you care. When we are willing to step in and relieve a burden we show that we value the other person and we are willing to make sacrifices to care for them.
Asking the question, "How can I be praying for you today?" shows that you are invested for more than just the moment and it recognizes that you know to whom to take your troubles. It is valuable to have our needs recognized and to bring those issues to our God who provides for all that we need. We can be dismissive of prayer as the last resort when we have exhausted all other avenues, but prayer is not a weak option and it should not be just a desperation response. Prayer should be a daily commitment to draw closer to God and to his people.
We live in God's good world, and we live in God's great story. Understanding the world around us means understanding how God restores all that we have broken. Understanding God's world means having his word as an active part of your life. The Bible should be our source of strength and guide for all of life. Get back to the source by looking to God's word together.
It is a blessing when someone cares enough about us to join in praying together. Choose to join together in taking the concerns of your life to God in prayer. Lead the way is asking, "Can we pray together about this?" Praying together nurtures a spiritual connection in relationships. Shared spiritual practice knits our hearts together and creates lasting bonds.
So while these questions contain no actual magic, God can use them to draw us closer to our spouse as we strive to love one another each day. God can guide us to see how we can invest in one another and nurture our relationships.