Getting to Know You Better: A Marriage Quiz


Some time ago I taught a priesthood lesson on marriage. At the end I said, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if we all went home and did two things: (1) ask our wives how we could be better husbands, and (2) listen to what they have to say.”

After priesthood meeting I returned home and began eating a late breakfast. My wife, Susan, asked about my lesson, and between bites of cereal I indicated that as far as I could tell it went pretty well.

“What did you say?” she asked. I took another spoonful of cereal and replied, “I told them to go home and ask their wives how they could be better husbands, and then listen to their comments.” I chuckled. “I’ll bet some of them are having some pretty interesting discussions right now.” I took another sip of orange juice.

Susan walked over to the kitchen counter and was rather quiet as I continued to enjoy my breakfast. After a few minutes she said, “Do you really want to know?”

“Know what?” I asked.

“How you could be a better husband,” she replied. “You do follow your own advice, don’t you?”

Suddenly I lost my appetite. I put down my toast, and she began.

It was not so much what I was doing that concerned her, she said, but what I could be doing that would greatly improve our marriage. I listened.

Our discussion had lasted about an hour when the phone rang. Susan answered it and talked for a minute or two and hung up.

“Who was it?” I asked.

“It was Brother Larson,” she replied. “He said he would be a little late picking you up to go home teaching.”

Susan walked out of the kitchen and called back, “He said he and his wife were having some sort of discussion. Something to do with what you said in priesthood meeting this morning.”

As husbands and wives, how well do we know each other? Most of us knew enough about our spouse at one time to agree to marriage. But what have we learned about each other since then? People—and consequently marriages—change as the years go by.

Some husbands and wives are surprised to find that there are still things to learn about each other, even after several years of marriage. Some mistakenly believe that because they live together in the same house, they’ll automatically know each other. Others assume that they each share the same perspective of their marriage—that since they are “one,” they think exactly alike, enjoy exactly the same things, and derive exactly the same satisfaction from their relationship. And some even erroneously assume that because they love each other, each will always know what the other is thinking or feeling, so there’s no need to express thoughts and sentiments.

Whatever the reasons, dialogue is infrequent or missing in too many marriages.

Elder Hugh B. Brown has written: “Where there is deep and mature love, which is being nurtured and jealously guarded, the couple will confide in each other and discuss all matters of joint interest—and in marriage everything should be of interest to both—they will stand together in adversity, will lean on, support, and give strength to each other. They will find that their combined strength is more than double the strength of either one of them alone.” (You and Your Marriage, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960, p. 30.)

To assist in marital communication, try the following exercise together. Allow yourselves sufficient time when there will be no interruptions. You might wish to divide the exercise into several sessions, considering two or three statements at each session.

First, respond individually in writing to the statements. Then exchange papers and talk about what you’ve written. Don’t try to review your responses simultaneously. While one of you is reading or speaking, the other should listen or ask clarifying questions. Then switch roles.

Complete the following statements:

1. In our marriage, I feel loved when you …

2. In our marriage, I feel appreciated when you …

3. In our marriage, I am happiest when …

4. In our marriage, I am saddest when …

5. In our marriage, I am angriest when …

6. In our marriage, I would like more …

7. In our marriage, I would like less …

8. In our marriage, I feel awkward when …

9. In our marriage, I feel uneasy when …

10. In our marriage, I feel excited when …

11. In our marriage, I feel close to you when …

12. In our marriage, I feel distant from you when …

13. In our marriage, I feel most afraid when …

14. My greatest concern/fear about our marriage is …

15. What I like most about myself is …

16. What I dislike most about myself is …

17. The feelings that I have the most difficulty sharing with you are …

18. The feelings that I can share most easily with you are …

19. Our marriage could be greatly improved with just a little effort if we …

20. The one thing in our marriage that needs the most immediate attention is …

21. The best thing about our marriage is …

[photo] Photography by Jed A. Clark

Brent A. Barlow, associate professor in the Department of Child Development and Family Relationships, Brigham Young University, is a father of six and serves on the high council in the BYU Sixth Stake.