A couple years ago, my wife Stephana and I were at a marriage retreat. We were asked to participate in an exercise where we rated the state of our marriage. If memory serves me correctly it was based on a scale of one to ten.
A ranking of one meant our marriage was absolutely terrible, and ten meant our marriage was the best it could be. After revealing our answers to one another the difference was shocking. One of us ranked our marriage north of five, while the other — uh, not the same, not even close.
Miles apart and didn’t even know it
That little exercise quickly revealed that we were in the marriage danger zone. We were ignorant, at least one of us, of how the other person was feeling, how they perceived our marriage, and whether or not their needs were being met in our marriage.
The worst part was we’d been there before. There have been many times when things seem to be going great for one of us, then a conversation reveals the other is completely dissatisfied, frustrated, or hurt. To the one spouse who thought everything was going great, it seems to be a complete shock, and leaves he/she left wondering “where did this come from?”
Have you been there before?
It’s not a good place to be. It’s, in fact, a danger zone you do not want to find your marriage in.
How could we be so ignorant
My friend, Webster, says a lack of knowledge, understanding, or information is the definition of the word “ignorance.” This is exactly what has happened when you find yourself in this marriage danger zone of ignorance.
One or both spouses lack knowledge of the situation, they lack understanding of their spouse, and/or they lack information about their spouse in general.
But how does this happen?
How do they become so ignorant of what is going on with the most important relationship in their life?
More importantly, how do you avoid this marriage danger zone? I’ve learned some insights from the times we’ve found ourselves in this marriage danger zone, and I believe it’ll help you know how it happens and how to avoid it.
Have two-way conversations
I can be guilty of “throwing up” words on my spouse and not leaving much room for her to talk. But in order for us to both be informed, we need two-way conversations. One great way to do this is to dedicate at least 15 minutes per day for just the two of you, no kids.
This regular time together helps facilitate ongoing conversations where you will both gather information about each other, your marriage, and various areas of your life. Typically when you don’t have regularly scheduled time together it doesn’t happen. What doesn’t get calendared doesn’t get done.
Experience things together
We all have regular day to day things that we do. This could be work done inside the home as well as outside the home. It could be taking the kids to school, helping them with their homework, or engaging with them in their extracurricular activities.
When our family went through a really rough time and experienced homelessness, we experienced a lot together. Many things that didn’t necessarily require all of us, we all did together. Some of those reasons were dictated by our circumstances, but the experiences did something good for us. We typically ate meals together at our kitchen table. We ran errands together. We attended each other’s appointments and/or meetings together.
One of the best ways we experienced things together didn’t come from hard times though. It came from scheduling and doing regular date nights. These experiences not only open the door for conversation, but the things you experience together bring a deeper connection.
Study your spouse
I was a notorious late night, before the test, crammer in high school and in college. My study habits weren’t good at all. Fortunately, I was good with getting the information I needed in my head long enough to pass the test. The problem with that is I didn’t gain an understanding. I had facts and information, but it didn’t stick.
The best way to make it stick and gain understanding is to study the subject, ongoing. I’m talking about school and marriage. If we want to truly understand one another in marriage, then we need to study each other. Not just when we are spending some “QT” together after the kids go to sleep, or on our date nights, but all the time. Watch and observe. Ask questions and listen intently. Pray for and with one another. This is where true understanding will come.
If you want to avoid the marriage danger zone of ignorance, then learning about your spouse, knowing them, and better understanding them will help you do so. Avoiding this danger zone will also help you avoid divorce court, and ultimately bring a deeper and lasting connection.
Question: What is one thing you can do to avoid any marriage danger zones? You can leave a comment by clicking here.