By: Kelly Tarr
When my husband I were getting to know each other, we spent endless hours talking. He always had good questions to ask, and I always wondered if he was finding me to be the woman for whom he’d waited. I never would have thought to ask some of the questions he did, and sometimes I wondered what he thought of my answers. Some were a bit intimidating, and some were downright funny. Upon our engagement, I learned the source of his mad question asking skills stemmed partly from his arsenal of 682 questions that he developed over several years. Yes, 682.
Today, nearly ten years into marriage, I look back with a chuckle and an extremely grateful heart. Blane knew what he was doing when he dove into the pages of questions. He wanted to know me, the woman he was considering marrying. Among other things, he wanted to understand how I thought, what I enjoyed, what was important to me, and what I believed.
He always invited me to ask the question back to him, but not until I’d answered first. That was the one rule to his “game.” Once we were engaged and he told me about the list (and my jaw dropped in amazement), we set a goal to finish the questions by the end of our honeymoon. It was a lot of fun. But more than that, it was laying a strong foundation for our future marriage. I knew it then, but I see it even better now.
Headstands and Chronic Laundry Dropping
It’s easy during those “twitterpated” days to gloss over the real issues of life. We think all will be well because we’re in love. It’s easy to let a physical relationship develop, while neglecting the heart relationship. Blane knew from the beginning that in order to be ready for marriage, we must truly know each other at the heart level as much as is possible and appropriate before marriage.
We have all heard stories about how a couple gets married and learns that their new spouse has a really quirky habit, like standing on her head for 10 minutes just before bed because it helps her blow her nose better. He leaves his underwear in the same spot, a foot from the hamper every single day. These sorts of things can be a big surprise and sometimes cause real friction. Blane wanted to help eliminate preventable conflict on the front end. He knew that inevitably, there were bound to be surprises, but he wanted our transition into marriage to be as smooth as possible.
In addition to making our way through the list of questions, once engaged, Blane had us both write out a list of every expectation for each other and marriage we could think of. And I mean every.
When we got together to discuss our expectations, my jaw dropped as his list kept on going. Mine was a fraction of the size of his. I was a bit appalled with at least one expectation of his, because I knew that I would never in a million years do what he’d written! At this point, we paused and he explained that he wrote it down because it’s an expectation. At that point, I realized that I had far more expectations than I thought.
In life and relationships, we have many expectations that we’re often unaware of, and so they go unspoken. Many times, we become aware of them only when they’re all of a sudden not met. By thinking through every single expectation that we could think of and then coming together to discuss them, Blane created an environment that wasn’t emotionally charged in which we could discuss our expectations, thus heading off possible conflicts.
It’s never too late to discuss your expectations with one another. At any point in your marriage, it will prove an extremely helpful tool. Maybe you’ve desired to strengthen your communication; this is a tool that will help accomplish your goal. Sometimes having a prompt helps to get what’s floating around inside the heart and mind out in the open. It’s not only a wonderful tool to enhance relationship, but a really fun way to continue getting to know one another at an ever-deepening level.
We have found that our expectations have changed over the years, and we laugh at some of our pre-marital expectations. The road will have its share of bumps, but if we slow down before jumping into the car to do the hard work of smoothing the road, it can make the drive a lot easier and a whole lot of fun.