Like me, it may be some time since you last sat in a classroom, but let’s take a few minutes to think back to those days because they could help enrich your marriage. How so? Well, when you said “I do,” you didn’t just commit yourself to your spouse forever; you also signed up for a lifetime learning about your spouse.
Make it a priority.
This coursework isn’t something to just squeeze in around your other commitments and responsibilities. If you want to do well, you need to make it a focus. Last-minute cramming may have gotten you through the occasional test, but chances are you didn’t remember much in the long run. And you’re studying to enrich your marriage, not just get a passing grade.
Writing things down can help make them “stick.” Whether you tap a note onto your smartphone or jot something in a journal, record some of the important things you learn about your husband or wife. Basics like clothes sizes and favorite foods are a good start (and don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll just remember them), but deeper things too—their dreams and concerns. These blogs might spark some further ideas: 7 Things You Must Know About Your Husband and 7 Things You Must Know About Your Wife.
You may not always understand what you see or hear, so don’t just pretend; seek clarity. Be inquisitive. One danger of being married for a while is that we start to think we know our spouse’s views on most things, so asking open-ended questions beyond everyday life can spark new conversations and discoveries. For instance, would you rather have a million dollars or ten years more of life? You’ll find more “Would you rather” questions here.
Showing up on time is a good start but then you need to focus. That means no daydreaming or goofing off. It’s easy to pretend to have a conversation without really listening to what the other person is saying. Being able to repeat their words does not necessarily mean you truly heard them! Make eye contact and pay attention. You may want to brush up on these ways to communicate effectively.
It’s easy to pretend to have a conversation without really listening to what the other person is saying.
Class time is good, but students that excel also engage in independent learning. They study more widely. Make a point to learn from some other experts: audio books, podcasts, radio programs. You can tune into these while you are commuting or doing regular chores, so it doesn’t have to take more time out of your day. Try reading Lists to Love By for Busy Husbands and Busy Wives.
Find a tutor.
Even the best teacher may not be able to give you all that you need. Sometimes it can help to get some one-on-one help and encouragement in the shape of a coach or mentor. Is there a couple you know whose marriage you admire? Guys, why not ask the husband to have coffee one day and ask him what he’s learned about loving his wife well? Ladies, do the same with the wife.
Make time to study.
Real learning is not just about remembering a bunch of facts, but knowing what to do with them as a result. It’s the difference between being intelligent and being wise. That requires reflection time when you can assess what you’ve discovered and consider how to apply it. Schedule some time weekly or monthly, maybe on your commute, to review what you’ve been learning about your marriage.
Take the test.
The best exams help evaluate how far you have come in your studies. They can be an encouragement marking what you have learned and a challenge revealing what you still need to work on. If you’re brave enough, ask your spouse to grade you on how you are doing. You can read about what I learned when I asked my wife, Susan, did I make the grade in my marriage vows?
How well do you study your spouse? What’s one thing you have learned lately, and what are you doing as a result? Please share your responses below.