So there’s a running joke at our house (and maybe beyond our house depending on how weird our friends think I am) that I do not fit the typical male stereotype when it comes to marital communication. While stereotypes are often dangerous, I think it’s safe to say that in many marriages the husband has to be drawn out into conversations about “relationship” issues and can be reluctant (or oblivious) to concede the importance of having in-depth discussions about parenting, caring for one another, sex, how family time is spent, etc.
In our marriage, my wife has trouble shutting me up.
Long after she has settled an issue in her mind – whether it be a disagreement we had, a decision we had to make, etc. – I’m still mulling things over, and those mullings inevitably spill out into “talking things through” a bit more until my mind is satisfied. There are certainly some pitfalls with this and where I would be without her decisiveness, I don’t know (probably still contemplating what we should name our 8 year old or where we should go for dinner on date night).
But let’s not focus on the negative, shall we? I actually wanted to encourage marital communication by highlighting something that we’ve really enjoyed over the past few years. There’s a website for creative date ideas called Dating Divas and somehow or other we came across a post they had for Conversation Starters. It was a few bucks for the digital download, but it included approximately 250 conversation starter cards divided into five different categories: Family, Romance, Quality Time, Intimacy, and Financial.
This, of course, sounded great to me and, to be fair, Kyna was excited about them too. What was really great was that these weren’t just silly questions to pass the time (though there’s some benefit to that sort of conversation starter as well). They were significant questions that focused on specific areas that were really beneficial for us to talk about. We shuffled the categories together and stuck several stacks of them into some old playing card boxes that we scattered about the house and in our cars. Whenever we’ve got time, a date, or a long drive, we can pull them out and go through a few.
Of course, some are more applicable than others. There are cards that don’t really generate much conversation for us (like, “Who is responsible for making sure bills are paid on time?” “I am.” “Ok, next card.”) and some that we’ve already answered based on rabbit trails from other cards. There are also many that seem to focus on common problem areas that couples have, and when the issue in question isn’t really something we struggle with, we don’t need to spend much time on those either.
Overall, however, we’ve really enjoyed them! Even when they don’t bring up things we need to talk about, they often bring up areas that we might not think to broach in a general conversation, and we’ve definitely reaped lots of benefit from some of these discussions and the rabbit trails they lead to. I’d highly recommend them, both for people who really enjoy talking (ahem…) and for those who don’t but could improve their marriage relationship by diving into discussion a little more often.
NOTE: One area these cards don’t cover, unfortunately, is the spiritual aspects of marriage. I actually wrote the DatingDivas with this suggestion and they responded positively to it, though I don’t know if it’s ever something they’ll get around to adding.