By: Shane James O’Neill
It’s that time of year — good ol’ Valentine’s Day.
In the midst of our sexualized culture, what does it look like to love well? For Valentine’s Day, here are four questions to ask your significant other that will help you to know their heart, not just their body.
For those of you who are single: these questions can also be used amongst friends and on a personal level. This Valentine’s Day, too many people will be courting pornography as their Valentine. So, use these questions to get to know your significant other better, your friends better, or use them to get to know yourself better.
These questions won’t just keep you from pursuing lustful relationships, fixing what is broken, they will help you build meaningful relationships.
1. What are two current things in your life that you have been enjoying?
You can know a lot about a person by what they are passionate about. Passions change and shift, taking on new forms and new expressions. Too many people don’t ask because they think they know the answer, so don’t assume you know the answer. And even if you do know the answer, people never tire of sharing the things they love. By caring for a person’s passions, you are actively caring for them.
There’s actually a great danger here: couples who don’t share each other’s passions will not be able to actively journey through life together.
Sharing love, and sharing life, demands that we share passions.
(The Gospel: The beauty of Christianity is the reality that life is deeply meaningful. The gospel reveals who you really are and the longer you know Jesus the more He sets you free to be yourself, and makes you who you were always designed to be. Learning to abound in thanksgiving, rejoice in the gift of life, and discover passions are some of the beautiful gifts of eternal life.)
2. Who are two people that are important to you?
Having a relationship with another person involves caring for the people that your romatic-other cares about. This is especially true for the Christian couple, who come together because they believe they’re more able to love other people together than they would be able to apart. Marriage embodies that reality, as a natural way of creating community so that a couple is more powerful and effective in loving others.
That image can sound rather grandiose, but a simple way of actively loving with another person is by discovering who is important to them and then figuring out a way to come together and intentionally love those people.
It all begins with asking them who is important to them.
A simple, powerful followup question is, “How can I support you in these relationships?”
(The Gospel: This is the significance of Christian hospitality/evangelism. Christians witness because God has communicated to His Bride who He loves (those who are important to Him!) and He invites us to love those people with Him. This is why the Great Commission exists. It is a call for us to go and love the people God loves. This is one of the ways that marriage is a reflection of God’s relationship with His Church, His Bride, and it is a stunning way that the ministry of marriage mirrors God’s ministry to the world.)
3. What is something in your life that has been very difficult lately?
A relationship isn’t only about knowing the good, it is also about knowing the hardship. Life is difficult. We often run from hardships by repressing those feelings with stimulation, whether that be lust, work, music, podcasts, Instagram, or Netflix. Learning to look at difficult things and emotionally process them is one of the ways that people grow the most.
By caring about your partner’s hardships, you are showing them that you care about the bad, as much as the good, and that you stand with them.
(The Gospel: The Cross is God’s way of showing that He cares about our hardship, our pain, our suffering. The Cross is God’s way of experiencing our hurt. The Church is called to live this example when the apostle Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”)
4. How can I care for you better?
This one probably matters the most, which means it is probably the most vulnerable. The question means you have to posture yourself to hear how you may not be loving them well. At the very least, this question helps you to see how you can be loving them better, loving them on their terms, not just yours.
A great follow up question is to ask, “What are ways that I care for you that you appreciate?” This question helps you to know what you’ve doing well so that you can continue to do it with greater intentionality.
(The Gospel: Prayer is intimate. Yes, through prayer we get to sing His praises, glorify Him, and intercede for other people. But in prayer, we also get to be honest with God about how we don’t see Him, how we hurt, how we feel let down by Him. This is a level of honesty that He invites. If we aren’t honest with Him about how lost we are then we never give Him the opportunity to find us, to seek and save the lost. The Cross shows us that God sees our worst and it invites us to reveal our worst to Him so that He can bring about our best through Resurrection.)
Let them Ramble!
All of these questions are starter-questions and each question allow for tons of various follow ups. The best thing you can do is let the other person answer as fully as they want. In other words, let them ramble.
Often times, letting a person ramble is the truest way to love them because they are sharing their true self, without any filters. If they’re rambling it means they feel safe to let down their guard and share the thoughts and feelings they carry within themselves. In those moments, you are sitting with them, inside their souls.
Be present in those momentsm, be attentive, and be gentle.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Proven Family. Let’s build a culture that honors relationships, and lets fight against the practices that exploit relationships.
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Shane James O’Neill is the Editorial Director for Proven Men Ministries. He is currently working on a graduate degree in apologetics at Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity.