“Babe, when was the hardest time of our marriage for you?”

“You first,” my husband said.

It was when he worked at a factory. It was supposed to be a 2 or 3 year gig, but it had turned out to be 15 years. We were both thankful for the job. It paid well. But it had also changed my outgoing, fun husband to a quiet, stoic guy who just made it through the day. I was losing the man I loved, even though I slept beside him. We made hard financial choices during that time, and eventually he went back to school. The guy I fell in love with re-emerged.

Then it was Richard’s turn to answer the question. His answers weren’t surprising.

But that discussion led to a deeper one. And aspects of that conversation surprised me.

It led to some observations on my husband’s part that I had never heard. Which led to a couple of small changes that are offering great results.

To walk in a new direction in your marriage: We need to listen, even if we think we know the answer.

I’ve been grieving over the past year as marriages of close friends fell apart. Some of them were relationships that seemed happy and loving on the outside. Marriages that no one thought would fail.

John 10:10 says that the enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy. . . But there’s more to that scripture. It goes on to say: But Christ has come to give us life to the fullest.

I want the fullest relationship possible in my marriage; don’t you?

Because when the enemy comes in to steal, kill, and destroy a marriage, it leaves devastation for miles.

If we bring in Christ into the rocky or unfilled parts of our marriage, we can begin to heal and restore or refine, or even make a good marriage better.

Today: Someone told me recently that her husband asked her two questions weekly: Am I being a good husband to you? Is there any area where I can do better? That challenged me, and it led to the conversation in the car.

I could have got defensive. “Hey bud, that’s your issue, not mine.”

But instead I had an opportunity to listen. Really listen. And to see if there were small things that might lead to big results.

Ask your spouse that question, but without preconceived notions. Or a ready-made answer, or even a defense.

For the next few days we’re going to look at what it means to walk in a new direction in our marriages. I hope you’ll join me, share your thoughts, and pray together for our families.