When I decided to return to college in September 2010, the most substantial mental hurdle I had to overcome was the thought of having to once again learn how to study and take exams. After all, it had been over 30 years since I opened a college text book. Yet, if I am being totally transparent, I wasn’t all that consistent about opening textbooks when I attended college back in the late 70’s! At any rate, if I had any chance of obtaining a degree, I had to learn how to study all over again.
At first, it was difficult to get acclimated to my new schedule of functioning in my role in ministry during the day and then changing gears to read, study and take exams in the evenings. It required being both disciplined and intentional to adequately learn the material in order to succeed. By the grace of God and with the help of many people, as I write this article in March 2016, I have successfully completed a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Arts and Lord willing I will obtain a Ph.D. in Psychology in spring 2017. Needless to say, I have discovered a thing or two about being a student over the last few years.
Succeeding in marriage can be a lot like mastering material in a college textbook. Without becoming a good student, the process can be quite difficult. Only in marriage, the object to be studied and mastered is not a particular textbook. It’s your spouse. Now, almost all of us would say we were fairly intentional about spending time with our spouse, getting to know them better when we were in the dating stage. Yet, most of us would also agree that at some point, the busyness of life caused us to become less intentional once we were married.
So, how well do you know your spouse today? I’m not referring to simply knowing his or her favorite color or place to eat (although things like this can be helpful). Instead, what I’m talking about here is how well you understand their habits, both good and bad. Do you know their communication style? How they tend to make decisions? What are your spouse’s love languages? If you answered no or not really to any of the above questions, here are a few tips on how you can become a better student of your spouse:
- Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you already know everything about your spouse. People, including you, make adjustments to relationships and situations over time. While it is possible that you know much about your spouse, it is highly likely there is more to learn because of changes that have taken place over time.
- Be willing to become a student of your spouse regardless of whether or not you believe your spouse is trying to intentionally learn more about you. While it is not the case in every situation, dollar to a doughnut your spouse will eventually respond to you in a positive way if you commit to learning more about them today.
- Intentionally make time each week to spend time learning more about your wife or husband. Weekly date nights are a great time to learn more about your spouse. Instead of going to watch a movie where little or no conversation takes place, spend time at the food court in the mall or at a picnic table in the park asking each other questions.
- Take advantage of resources designed to learn how others think, communicate and make decisions. Personality reports are a great way to learn this type of information about each other. You can learn a great deal about your spouse by purchasing and completing our Connect Assessment, http://ConnectAssessment.com. You can also learn each others love languages through Gary Chapman’s, Five Love Language Assessment, http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/couples/.
- Never stop learning. It’s important to realize that as husbands and wives we should never stop learning about each other. School is always in session.