The furniture looked like something dated from the 70’s. There was no luxury beach out our patio door or even a pool, and we were in the middle of the Garden Isle of Kauai. Instead, I stared at a green rustic cabana with an outdoor tub and shower. Not to mention there was no central air. This was not my idea of a honeymoon and I sure let my husband Jeremiah know.
Jeremiah was hurt. I was disappointed. He became angry. He worked hard to plan the perfect place. We were in a shouting match for the ages. We were terrified that in the couple days before when we stood at the altar that somehow we’d made a colossal mistake. Eventually, he reluctantly took us to a resort and charged an enormous sum to our credit card.
In that moment, we were more concerned about declaring our opinions about the other person’s failure than asking questions to know the other person’s heart. The prideful path we were starting out on as newlyweds was clearly not God’s plan.
When we reflect back on that time in our life, we laugh now. Life was so different. We were different. By God’s grace, so much has changed for the good. We’ve learned over time the power of asking questions. No matter where you are in your marriage journey, here are three questions every couple should ask that will help bring them together instead of apart:
1) Will you forgive me?
When hungry-for-answers Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus responds, “I tell you not seven times, but seventy-seven.”
I can imagine the look on Peter’s face. Often, we think there’s a certain number of times we can only forgive and then we’re done. Everything in our fleshly nature wants to remain in bitterness and resentment especially when a wrongful act has been committed against us: How dare he commit such an act against me?
It takes the power of Jesus and his word to help us choose forgiveness when everything in us does not want to forgive. But Jesus commands us to forgive, regardless if the feelings aren’t there. And he’s our perfect example who has forgiven us for every sin we’ve ever committed. There is life-change in the question, “Will you forgive me?”It’s the first step to healing, restoration, and being one in spirit again.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-32
2.) How can I serve you today?
When my feet hit the floor in the morning and I turn on my Keurig to insert that anticipated k-cup, I’m thinking about myself and my needs. It takes a conscious effort to look at the needs of my husband and think about how I can encourage and serve him. I can imagine how different our marriage would look if that was my attitude every day.
When we think about the life of Jesus and who he was to the people he came to save, it’s amazing that he got down on his knees, took a towel, and washed his disciples’ dirty, stinky, calloused, smelly, worn-out feet. He wasn’t thinking about his own agenda, but that of the Father’s. His mission was to serve and he lived it out faithfully.
In marriage, our mission should be to serve. That’s what truly makes you a great spouse.“How can I serve you today?” will help you see what your spouse needs just for today. The answer to that question will help you know how to practically meet that need and in turn strengthen your relationship.
“The greatest among you will be your servant” – Matthew 23:11
3.) Where would you say we’re drifting apart?
Sometimes in our “heated conversations” I have to remember that Jeremiah and I are a team even when it feels like the roof is caving in on us. One time it literally did in our first home! We’re not against each other even though it feels like it. The truth is that we have an Enemy and our sinful natures warring against us constantly trying to tear us apart from being one flesh.
“Where would you say we’re drifting apart?” is a question worth asking. Sometimes our bank accounts, weekly schedules, and personal goals can be more inwardly focused and unknowingly exclude the other person. This question helps you pinpoint areas for growth in your relationship. And we all have them! God calls you and your spouse toward oneness and doesn’t want you to settle for less.
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”– Matthew 19:6
These questions aren’t easy. Not one bit. But they’re necessary. Jeremiah and I cannot go back and undo the past. We can only learn from it. We can only wonder how much frustration we would have spared our marriage had we possessed the humility to ask these questions of each other more quickly. 12 years later, we’re still learning how to ask these questions.
We did, in fact, resolve our differences after the dust settled that honeymoon day way back then. We had to do some soul-searching. We eventually mustered up the strength to overcome the pride within us and ask for forgiveness. We had to take an other-person-centered attitude in order to learn to become one flesh.
Well, after only having been at the resort for two days, we were sitting at the poolside living out our honeymoon dreams. I looked at Jeremiah and asked, “Can we go back to the cabana? I kind of miss it.”
His face turned beet red.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mother to four, and writer in rural Colorado. She’s the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. To read more from Samantha, visit her blog: www.samanthakrieger.com