Do an Internet search on the “ten questions” and you can find them listed, but here I can add some commentary! I was working at the home office of the International Mission Board when Dr. Tom Elliff came to be the Special Assistant to the President for Spiritual Formation (I doubt that title will even fit on a business card). Tom Elliff is now retiring president of the IMB. Tom’s former position was a rewarding one for the staff. I remember hearing quality teaching, not only out of the Bible but also flowing out of his extensive life experiences as a missionary, pastor and teacher. On one occasion, during our Spiritual Emphasis Week, Tom shared these ten questions.
Since the Men of Steel are “in it to win it,” we intend to be the best husbands and fathers we can be, not working in our own strength but in the strength found only through our relationship with Christ. The base line challenge today comes out of 1 Peter 3:7 where Peter says,
“…husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.
Did you get that? Our relationship with God can be hindered by the way we treat our wives! You know, the Bible records that Jesus asked a lot of questions. So, it might be good for us to ask a few questions as well. These are the 10 questions we should ask our wives every year. Ask, and let her respond. The goal is to know her heart:
- What could I do to make you feel more loved and cherished? The emphasis is on feeling and not knowing. Think about verbal affirmation of your love. She knows you love her, but does she feel that you love her?
- How can I best demonstrate my appreciation for you, your ideas, and your role as my wife? We may speak to others about our wives being the “better half,” but do they feel that their ideas, concerns and input is really up to half in the relationship? Do you brag about her to others? What do her friends tell her about what they heard you say about her?
- What could I do to assure you that I hear and understand your heart? Maybe her answer might be, “Asking me these questions is a good start!” A lot of couples have very little understanding of the other. Often times we build walls around us to protect ourselves from pain or shame. We don’t want our wives to know the truth because deep down we believe they will respect or love us less if they only knew the truth.
- What could I do to make you feel absolutely secure? How do you protect your wife? Physically is one way, providing a safe place to live without fear, but how about emotionally, spiritually or even morally? Tom told us a story about a husband who was watching TV and the wife watched him watch TV. The point was, watching a television program is one thing, watching TV (flipping channels looking for stuff) is something else. Can our wives see our moral integrity and the marriage relationship going down for the count?
- What can I do to ensure that you have confidence and joy in our future direction? The key word in this question is “our.” Does your wife feel that you are both together looking forward to and building the future, or is she just following you? Each cannot be just “doing their own thing” and living under the same roof.
- What attribute or practice would you like me to develop or improve? Is there something in my life you would prefer I eliminated? Face it, life means always seeing the opportunity for improvement.
- What attribute would you like me to help you develop in yourself? How can I help you in the best possible way? Not all problems can be solved with words. She can now help you to get the picture! How can you be a true partner with your wife?
- What achievement in my life would bring you greatest joy to your heart? The Bible is filled with examples of people whose lives were not over until it was over; like Caleb and Joshua, the spies and the Promised Land. The goal kept these two going through 40 years of wandering. A husband needs clear and positive objectives for the second half of life. Nothing encourages a man more than the privilege of accomplishment.
- What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more like Christ? Perhaps a deeper prayer life, full commitment to learning the Word of God, sensitivity to sinful activity, elimination of bad habits, friends, practices, a life marked by the Holy Spirit (bearing fruit – Galatians 5:22-23), that Christ is running the show rather than you.
- What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish? Marriage is not about me, it’s about us. How can we make the most of our time spent on this earth?
Tom and his wife set aside a weekend retreat each year. Will you commit to ask these questions of your wife?
PS: if wives are looking for ten questions to ask her husband, check out what Tom’s wife asks him every year.