When you have something big going on in you and your spouse’s life, make an effort to talk about something else every now and then.
I remember not long after Nathan and I got engaged, I heard this piece of wisdom that I have since tried hard to follow: Take a break from the “thing” that is consuming your thoughts and talk about something else. At the time, the resource was specifically talking about marriage. But I’ve since then used that wisdom for a lot of different things, job changes and moving included.
First: Why This Is Important
Initially, you might wonder why this is important to do. I certainly did. I mean, we were getting married – there was a lot to discuss! And it was good that we did discuss the wedding and marriage and all the little and big details leading up to the big event and life change.
Likewise, when we moved from Virginia to Ohio, there was definitely a lot of discussion to be had. There were changes in jobs, changes in location, we needed to find a place to live, we needed to look for a new church, etc.
However, I took the wisdom to heart, and noticed these things when we made efforts to talk about something else:
- It reminded Nathan and I that this “thing” – whether it was the wedding, moving, a job change, whatever – was temporary. And, furthermore, it wasn’t the only important thing in our lives.
- It deepened Nathan and I’s relationship to talk about something other than the “thing.”
- Sometimes, your mind needs a break. It doesn’t matter what it is, you need a break. In fact, I often had better thoughts or was reminded of something I’d forgotten.
When things have been tough, talking about something other than the “thing” has been especially important. I can’t emphasize this one enough – I read one person’s comment months ago that their greatest regret was that they let financial struggles consume their lives and marriage. Now, financial struggles I get, and it can be super hard not to let it consume your thoughts. You worry about it so much! But this person made a great point that they lost out on life and their relationship a little because that was all that they thought or talked about.
Second: How To Do This
Maybe you’re interested in doing this, but aren’t sure how? Christy Wright has some great information on a similar blog post on “How To Not Talk About Work.”
Here’s what worked for us:
- First, tell your spouse what your intention is. You’ve not forgotten about the “thing,” and it is important, but you’d really like to talk about something else.
- Second, agree on specific moments to not talk about the “thing.” It helps if you have a set time. Wright mentions that she and her husband would specifically not talk about their son on dates. Try to find those moments in your life where you can set things aside and continue investing in your relationship with your spouse in ways besides the “thing.”
- Third, brainstorm topics to talk about! Nathan and I actually did this. I even wrote thoughts down, and as difficult as it was, sometimes those lists gave us something to work with.
Remember: Invest In Your Spouse
The whole point of this is to spend intentional time building your relationship on something other than the “thing.” Because at some point it will pass. Even if it’s children, they will grow up and move on with their lives. So take the opportunity to learn more about your spouse. Just as every day you are learning and shaping into a new you, so is your spouse.
(And for the record? This can be just as important in your relationship with your family and friends.)