For many years, Tom Elliff and his wife, Jeannie, have taken time away from their normal routines to get away and be together. They’d have some romantic dinners and fun conversations, and generally just have a wonderful time talking about their lives. One year Tom decided to elevate the discussion and, in the process, open himself up in a way few husbands ever do. He developed a list of questions based on issues he knew were of concern to Jeannie, and then he was man enough and sprung them on her during a retreat in the Rockies:
- What could I do to make you feel more loved?
- What could I do to make you feel more respected?
- What could I do to make you feel more understood?
- What could I do to make you more secure?
- What could I do to make you feel more confident in our future direction?
- What attribute would you like me to develop?
- What attribute would you like me to help you develop?
- What achievement in my life would bring you the greatest joy?
- What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christlike?
- What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish?
That type of vulnerability takes initiative and courage! You might be thinking, There is absolutely, positively no way I’m ever going to ask my wife questions like that. Are you man enough to ask your wife?
“I was almost blown away”
When I interviewed Tom and Jeannie on my radio program FamilyLife Today, I asked her how those questions made her feel. Jeannie replied that the first thing that crossed her mind was a sense of tremendous honor that her husband wanted to know how she felt about important issues in their lives. “I was almost blown away,” she recalls. “It was wonderful.”
Tom has reviewed these same ten questions with Jeannie many times since that first conversation. When Tom told me about this experience, I couldn’t help but think it was a perfect illustration of 1 Peter 3:7, which instructs husbands, “Live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.” Asking these questions, and actually listening to the answers, helps a husband understand his wife’s needs. It connects them in a deeper way as a couple and makes them accountable to each other. This is the type of love, understanding, and leadership we are called to as men.
So… are YOU man enough?
So, here’s your assignment, if you choose to accept. Take 3 of the questions that Tom asked his wife and take your wife out for a cup of coffee or a walk by the river and ask her those three questions. Maybe a walk by the river isn’t such a good idea (you don’t want her to be so caught off guard she falls in the water). Then, take three more next week and continue the process of initiating conversation for your marriage’s health and your wife’s edification.
Adapted from Stepping Up, by Dennis Rainey. FamilyLife Publishing, © 2012 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.
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Hear Tom and Jeanne Elliff give more detail about the 10 questions on FamilyLife Today radio broadcast.
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