Getting to know each other

My wife and I have been married for 27 years. I’m not bragging… I’m just mentioning it so you can that when I talk about getting to know each other, we’ve spent a long time trying. We’ve tried a great many things to stay connected, and we know how challenging it is.

You’d think after 27 years we’d be able to coast, that we’d know everything we need to know about each other… maybe you’ve thought that about some of the relationships in your life — friendships, family, girlfriend/boyfriend, spouse.  Maybe you’ve thought that because you’re near a person day-after-day you can now coast.  In my experience, it is not true.  People are alive… they change and grow and form new thoughts all the time.  They are experiencing new things and struggle and hope and try and fail and need encouragement, etc. So it makes sense… relationships take ongoing, intentional effort, forever.

Today I’d like to share something we’ve been doing for the past few months to stay connected to each other. And, I believe this may be helpful in deepening just about any relationship you have.

Andrea & I have a goal of  weekly asking each other a series of questions… Intentional questions… questions to help us deepen our connection to each other.  We don’t always ask every question and not always in the order shown, but we use them as to give our conversation structure and intentionality.

Take them for a test drive for a month (once a week) and see if they help you make a deeper connection with someone else. (Feel free to edit them — make them your own. Or use them for ideas to come up with your own questions.)

Questions for Couples:

  1. Catch me up on the highlights of your week.
  2. What has stirred, encouraged, or grown you this week? (E.g., What ideas, thoughts, articles, blogs, messages/teachings, movies, books, etc that impacted you?)
  3. How is your heart? * see note below
  4. How is your connection with God?  (E.g., Quiet time, devotions, walks, prayers, activities that draw you closer, etc.)  What has He spoken to you?
  5. Have I offended or hurt you this week?  If so, “tell me more…
  6. Have you felt loved/respected this week?
  7. How have you appreciated me this week? (I.e., Ways that you’ve intended to show appreciation/love/respect that I may not have picked up on.)
  8. Are you moving forward in life?  (E.g, your goals, desires, dreams, etc.)
  9. In what way(s) can I come along side you to help you move forward in life?
  10. In what way(s) can I bless you and communicate love/respect to you this week?
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And here’s some suggested questions for friends and family…

Questions for Friends:

  1. Catch me up on the highlights of your week.  (and your family)
  2. What has stirred, encouraged, or grown you this week? (E.g., What ideas, thoughts, articles, blogs, messages/teachings, movies, books, that impacted you?)
  3. How is your heart?
  4. How is your connection with God?  (E.g., Quiet time, devotions, walks, prayers, activities that draw you closer, etc.)  What has He spoken to you?
  5. Is there anything between us that we have not had the chance to work out?  If so, “tell me more…
  6. Are you moving forward in life?  (E.g, your goals, desires, dreams, etc.)
  7. In what way(s) can I come along side you to help you move forward in life?
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Want some other great conversation starters?  Check out TableTopics [link] or the TableTopics App for your smartphone/iTouch.  They sell attractive cubes filled with really good questions to help you get to know each other in ways you’d never think of yourself.  We have one on our dining room table and we love the effect it brings!

Enjoying the connections,

Mark

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* By “heart” I mean the deepest, truest you. The place of your hopes, dreams, motives, thoughts, connection with self and God.

UPDATE 11/2020: I just thought you’d be interested to know, we were on a date last week and pulled out our questions. (We keep then on a Post-It note in my wallet.) It’s been years and, yes, we do STILL use them and still find them super helpful in our staying connected, happy, and in love. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Getting to know each other

  1. I don’t know what it is with some people asking me, “How’s it going with you?” and similar questions. From some people, it just seems too personal too soon, when they haven’t even extended the usual social graces to me or tried to be friendly and frequent in my life. It seems manipulative for them to ask me what’s going on in my life when they don’t answer my questions about their lives.

    So for those friendships — as much as God nudges me to deepen those, at times — I am constantly fighting that urge. Instead, I really want to give up on those, especially when there are deeper, closer new friends who are more ready and willing to talk deeply with me.

    1. I hear you. I can see how it could seem manipulative to be asked one-sided questions. (I wonder if others feel that way when we ourselves try to introduce some of these deeper questions? It is vulnerable, after all. And with vulnerability comes the opportunity for ‘control’.) I have to admit, these kinds of questions would be really hard and awkward for new friendships, but I think they are even hard for some people even after being friends for a while. There is a whole different language that needs to be learned to go deeper. I have found it best to use the words that best fit your personality and hold on loosely to expectations. Can you explain more of what you mean when you say “constantly fighting that urge”? What has been the cumulative effect of steering clear of those relationships?

      1. I fight the urge to interact with them, because I always seem to find myself in an empty position of reaching out too much to them, with little feedback to show that they want a regular friendship. Instead, it feels like all they want is occasional affirmation. They rarely even talk to me on my level, such as small talk; more importantly, they often don’t obligate themselves to reply to my messages. To me, that shows they aren’t ready for my particular level or style of interaction or aren’t compatible.

        The cumulative effect of avoiding these friendships has been mixed. Sometimes I feel like I have cut off an arm or leg, by withdrawing. Other times, I feel relief, because I can see that the frequency and degree of friendship that I want isn’t the degree that they want. I want more than they do. There is something very disproportionately uncomfortable about these, and I question whether these are even valid and mutually necessary friendships, or whether they are one-sided, where one person finds the friendship necessary, whereas the other person seems to treat it like it’s dispensable and merely a nice supplement to more important things.

        Some friendships are in-between. We are busy beating around the bush instead of going ahead with it, but we are willing to move at a similar speed and level of depth. These are tolerable and seemingly healthy, despite tension.

      2. Suffice it to say that I question the necessity of those friendships. There are some friends who seem able to converse and even on a deep level, but there are others who make me feel like I’ve wasted my efforts to reach out to them when I manage to do so. Of chief concern in these friendships is whether they are even of any value to me.

  2. Great idea Mark. We’ve got 36 years going for us, but, as you said, it still takes a lot of work and open communication to keep our marriage alive, fun, honest & fresh. I will try to impement these with Nancy.
    Blessings to you & Andrea, for all you both do to help others.
    Mark

    1. Good to hear from you. Thanks, Mark. I’d love to hear some of the things you and Nancy do to stay connected and “get to know each other.” Do you have a couple of questions you come back to regularly? Or things you do?

  3. I steadfastly detest any kind of manufactured, “get to know you” questions but these are deep. I like ’em. They can lead to rich places and strengthen a relationship. Thanks, I’m going to use them.

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