I love to cook. Cooking is an opportunity to turn vision into reality. The process is important as a cook has a dish in mind and then works towards a goal to accomplish the end result. At times the final plate that is served is mind-blowing and special. Other times, we can fall short and find ourselves wanting to go back to fix some mistakes made during the process.

The foundation of a great dish is great ingredients. It’s much easier when you have quality ingredients than poor cuts of meat and wilted vegetables.

Ingredients matter for the final product, but some of the most masterful chefs can take really bad ingredients and turn them into something amazing.

Working with subpar elements takes great intentionality and thoughtfulness. It does take more work, but it is not impossible.

Now, take this analogy of cooking and apply it to our marriages in 2020.

Here are just a few of the ingredients we have been given.

Global Pandemic

Sickness

Quarantine

Worry

Racial Injustice

Anxiety

Riots

Protests

Job Loss

Financial Uncertainty

Schools Closing

Schools Opening

Wear a Mask

Don’t Wear a Mask

Protecting our Senior Adults

Presidential Election

Murder Hornets

Toilet Paper Shortage

Most Hurricanes on Record

Wildfires

Taking these ingredients and making something beautiful is not impossible, but the odds are stacked against us. We are starting to see marriages hurt across our country. According to new data collected by Legal Templates, a company that provides legal documents, divorce rates were 34 percent higher from March through June compared to 2019.

So, what do we do with the ingredients we have been given?

I believe it starts with communication. How we honestly discuss these things together will shape our response together. 2020 is a year we will never forget, and it will shape the years to come. I want to encourage seven questions that you and your spouse need to consider as the year comes to a close. Leverage these questions to grow closer, be intentional, dream forward for the years to come. These questions are meant to generate honest responses.

1. What has been the best part of 2020?

2. What has been the worst part of 2020?

3. Do you trust me?

Don’t just answer with a yes or no. Explain why or why not, and give examples. Do not attack or be defensive. Communicate and discuss with honestly and an open heart. Discuss action steps needed if broken trust is found.

4. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate my communication with you?

Explain your rating by giving examples of how he/she could improve. You are not allowed to just say, “You stink.” Example: “I would love if you added things to the calendar more frequently so I can plan my week better.” Don’t be afraid to encourage if he/she communicates well; tell your spouse what you love about how they communicate and encourage more.

5. What do you need from me that I haven’t been giving you?

This may take some time to think about. Do you best not to get reactive or defensive. Allow each other to be honest and receive the answer. Wait before you respond.

6. What are my blind spots?

Blind spots are things we do not see within or around ourselves. Giving your spouse permission to share this with you is letting them know that you trust them and you are willing to work on any blind spots they may see.

7. What is your dream for our future?

Spend more time on this question than any of the others. Dream together, talk about where you want to go. Make a list. Create a vision board. Regardless of 2020 and what we have been through, our futures can be bright if we are willing to fight and put in the work.

Final Notes: If you find yourself thinking that your marriage is past these questions and that things are pretty bad, please seek advice and counseling from someone. Fight for your marriage and do not give up. If you need help, please email info@empoweredhomes.org and someone will reach out to you for support.

Bobby Cooley
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