One of my biggest fears in marriage is that we would become that couple.
You know that couple: when you look across the restaurant, this is the couple who looks bored. They’re either looking at their phones, or they just sit together with blank looks on their faces the whole meal. They don’t talk about anything and wouldn’t even know what to discuss. They’re not arguing, but I’m not sure they love spending time together. Their eyes look all over the restaurant except at each other. They mostly look at their phones.
It didn’t always used to be this way: when they dated, they couldn’t stop talking, asking questions, and laughed throughout a meal. What happened? Did they run out of things to say, or did they just lose their curiosity?
We’re currently reading the book Fierce Marriage by Ryan and Selena Frederick in the newly married small group we lead through our church. We love this book! The authors bring everything back to the gospel, they’re authentic in their struggles, and they understand the challenges couples face.
In their chapter on communication and connection, they include a section called Never Stop Exploring as they discuss the importance of staying curious in marriage. Losing curiosity is a common communication pitfall many couples face. Most couples start strong, but then get complacent, focused on career and kids, and curiosity goes away.
In his book Date Your Wife, Justin Buzzard describes the typical pattern of couples:
- Find a girl you like
- Get that girl to like you back
- Impress the girl until she becomes your girlfriend and wants to marry you
- Share a home, bills, conflict, kids, and stress with the girl who was your girlfriend. Don’t go anywhere.
Kristen and I can certainly relate to this pattern. It’s never malicious or intentional, but with the busyness of life, we can get bored and lose our curiosity.
May it never be! We don’t have to resign ourselves to a life of boredom in marriage and we don’t have to lose our curiosity for each other. We don’t have to become that couple.
Here are 4 ways you and your spouse can stay curious in your marriage.
1. Be a student of your spouse.
I sure hope I don’t ever believe I’ve learned everything possible about Kristen, and I hope she won’t say the same about me. We change and (hopefully) grow as we mature. When we learn to be a student of our spouse, we remain curious.
Study what they say when you go shopping together. Pay attention to their wants and desires. Remain curious.
Here are a few examples of questions you can ask on your next date. It’s not rocket science—I came up with this list in a few seconds!
- What is the highlight of your summer? And what are you most looking forward to this fall?
- What concert would you like to see? Book you’d like to read? Movie you’d like to watch?
- What did you learn in Sunday’s sermon?
- What songs are playing in your Spotify/iTunes/Pandora playlist?
Ryan and Selena write, “Healthy marriages are based on healthy friendships, and healthy friendships always include intentional communication.” Learn to be a student of your spouse with intentional communication.
The Fredericks often ask each other heart check questions:
- What’s in your hand? What book are you reading?
- What’s in your ear? What are you listening to—music or podcast?
- What’s stirring in your heart? What’s God teaching you?
My friends Tim and Emily ask each other weekly questions. I love their list!
If you don’t know where to start, check out something like these Table Conversation Cards. I’ve heard great things about them!
And one more for good measure! My friend Blake Mankin has a great blog and if you sign up for his blog, you can download a list of 100 questions to spark meaningful conversation!
2. Rest, laugh, and have fun together.
We’re all so busy and so serious. We go from one activity to the next, and we stop having fun in marriage. Hobbies get replaced with bills. Car pool to sports and piano practices take the place of adventure. We can’t stop taking care of our kids or paying bills, but we must keep some time for fun.
Marriages stagnate because we stop exploring and having fun. Why? Because familiarity, routine, habits, and tiredness lead to a general lack of creativity and curiosity. Have fun and in the process you’ll remain curious.
If you’re looking for some date ideas, check out my list of 124 Killer Date Night ideas!
3. Stop thinking about yourself.
Think of your spouse before yourself. Philippians 2:3-4 might be the verse I quote more often than any other. Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
If you and I learned to look to the interest of others and count our spouse more significant than ourselves, then I bet we’d each be much more curious. We’d desire to learn more about our spouse. We’d care about their desires more than our own. And, we’d look a lot more like Jesus who exemplified the selfless life better than anyone ever did and ever will (keep reading Philippians 2:5-11).
4. Don’t let your tech dominate you.
In his book The Tech-Wise Family, Andy Crouch talks about how technology can stifle curiosity. Note: this is not an anti-technology post. If it was, I’d be in deep trouble and this blog wouldn’t exist!!
Rather, don’t be mastered by it. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul writes, “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.“ All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.” iPhones and TV’s are lawful. Just don’t be dominated by them!
If I’m honest, looking at my phone is much easier than talking to Kristen. I don’t have to think, I get entertained, and I put my selfish desires first. When I get lazy and don’t want to work on my marriage or remain curious, I vedge out and check out of my marriage. Again, enjoy some TV shows and check those college football scores on your phone. Just don’t get dominated by them and lose your marital curiosity.
Why should you remain curious?
Martin Luther said it well: “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”
This is the home I want to create, the marriage I want to experience and let my kids see, and the abundant life I want to live right now. One of the best ways to do this is by remaining curious in your marriage.
- How do you and your spouse stay curious in your marriage?
- Which of the four ways above can you most grow in?
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