For many years, Tom Elliff and his wife, Jeannie, took time away from their normal routines to get away and be together. They read Scripture together, they prayed, they had a wonderful time talking about their lives.
One year Tom decided to elevate the discussion and, in the process, open himself up in a way few husbands ever do. He developed a list of questions over a few months, basing them on issues he knew were of concern to Jeannie, and then sprung them on her at breakfast one morning during a retreat in the Rockies.
Here’s the list:
1. What could I do to make you feel more loved?
2. What could I do to make you feel more respected?
3. What could I do to make you feel more understood?
4. What could I do to make you more secure?
5. What can I do to make you feel more confident in our future direction?
6. What attribute would you like me to develop?
7. What attribute would you like me to help you develop?
8. What achievement in my life would bring you greatest joy?
9. What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christ-like?
10. What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish?
Optional: Have I overlooked any question you would like for me to ask?
You’re probably thinking, There is absolutely, positively, no way I’m ever going to ask my wife questions like that.
That type of vulnerability takes courage.
When I interviewed Tom and Jeannie on FamilyLife Today®, I asked her how those questions made her feel. Jeannie replied that the first thing that crossed her mind was a sense of tremendous honor that her husband wanted to know how she felt about important issues in their lives. “I was almost blown away,” she recalled. “It was wonderful.”
Before her death in 2015, Tom reviewed these same 10 questions with Jeannie many times. When he told me about this experience, I couldn’t help but think it was a perfect illustration of 1 Peter 3:7, which instructs husbands, “You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life …”
Asking these questions, and actually listening to the answers, helps a husband understand his wife’s heart. It connects them in a deeper way and makes them accountable to each other.
This is the type of love, understanding, and leadership we are called to as men.
Excerpt adapted by permission from Stepping Up, copyright © 2010 by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.