I remember the scene very clearly. My then-boyfriend and I were traveling on a bus filled with students from our university, on a study tour. It was evening, and we had only been dating perhaps three months. In the twilight, he turned to me and asked, “So, how are we doing?”
Huh? What do you mean, How are we doing? I wasn’t sure how to answer. We hadn’t had any arguments or misunderstandings. I didn’t feel we were communicating poorly. I’m not sure what I told him, something like, “Um, we’re fine. Why? Is something wrong?”
He went on to explain what he meant. Instead of waiting until we had something to disagree over and then discovering other frustrations festering under the surface, he wanted us to form a habit of checking in with each other during calm, happy moments.
A year later, that boyfriend became my husband. Thirteen more years and two children down the road, we still have regular check-in conversations. It gives us a chance to share the little things that bother us or weigh us down, in an atmosphere of support, rather than when tensions are high and tempers run hot. This way, it is easier to listen attentively and express our feelings clearly.
I won’t pretend that this strategy has saved us from ever disagreeing or arguing or misunderstanding each other. And it is definitely not a substitute for communicating well in other situations. But it is a way to know that you have a safe zone where you can hear what is in each other’s hearts—the stuff you don’t dig down and share on a daily basis.
If you’ve never had a “check-in conversation” in your marriage, or you aren’t in the habit of non-confrontational transparent communication, it might feel a bit odd at first, but that’s OK.
Talk to your spouse about the idea, and maybe have them read this article so they understand. Then pick a time when you’re not stressed, rushed, or already irritated with each other. Here are a few practice questions to get you started, in no particular order:
How are we doing?
Am I meeting your needs well lately?
What are a couple of things I could do to lighten your load this week?
What’s on your heart right now?
Is there anything I’ve done that hurt your feelings this week? How can I make it better?
If we could do one thing together to make you feel that we are united, what would it be?
Check-in conversations are one of the best ways to stay united in the constant demanding bustle of ministry life. Pair these open, honest dialogues with daily prayer time together, and your marriage can become unbreakable