Something I’ve learned in the last 5 months: never accept “fine.” Not as a first answer, anyway.
I’m trying to be more intentional about connecting emotionally with my wife, seeing how she’s doing. Usually, it’s at mealtimes, breakfast or dinner. We’ll ask each other about how we slept, or about how the workday was. And one or the other will ask, “So how are you doing?” If the response is “fine” or “okay,” the other will gently press for more. Not always, but usually, there’s more going on. A few times, it’s resulted in a few tears and vulnerable honesty.
One of the most freeing truths, and one of the most challenging to learn in this first year of marriage, is that I don’t have to pretend with my wife. I don’t have to be the strong, confident, got-it-all-together husband. I can share my doubts, my anxieties, my disappointments and frustrations. And she doesn’t have to be the perfect, got-it-all-together wife, either. She can open up about sadness, fear, exhaustion, frustration. And after tears are shed (on both sides) and honest words are spoken, we know each other better.
Now, we’re getting closer to the point where we don’t have to put up the reflexive “fine” response. We trust each other enough to be able to say, “This is where my heart’s at, this is what’s bothering me, this is why I’m feeling down.” And that’s been a really life-giving, relaxing thing.
I know I’m just a young pup as far as this marriage thing goes, but I’m glad that my beloved wife and I are starting this practice early.
If you’re married, and it’s been a while since you’ve asked your spouse how they’re really doing, let this newbie challenge you to do that today. Don’t settle for “fine.” Take a few minutes, shut out the distractions, take your spouse’s hand, and really listen. Ask your spouse how you can pray for them this week. How you can love them well.
If you’re not married, it’s still vitally important to be known, and to be honest. Even being honest with a trusted friend is a freeing thing, because when we open up with someone we trust who will listen to us, it gives us a chance to be honest with ourselves. Sometimes you may even be surprised with what comes out of your mouth. There have been a few times that I’ve thought, “Wow, I didn’t realize I felt that way.” So find a trusted friend, a mentor, a parent, someone you can be honest with, and ask them how they’re doing. Share where you’re at. Ask how to pray for each other.
If our relationships are going to grow, we’ve got to push past “fine” to find the heart of things.
Your Turn: How has pushing past “fine” helped you in your relationships?