The U.S. Constitution states that among other duties, the President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient..." (Article 2, Section 3)
George Washington delivered the first State of the Union address on January 8, 1790, and every President since then has done the same. While the specific timing for the delivery of the State of the Union is not specified in the Constitution, since 1934 it has been given each January or February.
As husbands and leaders in our families, this is likewise a suitable time for us to consider the state of our unions. In fact, I would be willing to argue that the most important question you can ask yourself right now is, "What is the State of MY Union?"
At some point in the past, I suspect you promised your wife that you would love her, be faithful to her, have and hold her from that day forward, for better or worse, richer or poorer, and in sickness or health.
I also suspect that you didn't put an expiration date on that promise, but instead told her that you would keep your solemn vow until death separated you.
What is the State of YOUR Union?
Have you kept your promises?
Take the opportunity today to honestly assess your marriage.
There are a lot of ways to do this and many places to start, but here's a way to kick things off.
First, rate the condition of your marriage relationship in these broad areas using a scale of 1 (i.e., I could not do any worse) to 5 (i.e., I am so perfect that it hurts; there is no room for improvement):
- How am I taking care of my wife's emotional needs?
- How am I taking care of my wife's spiritual needs?
- How am I taking care of my wife's physical needs?
- How am I taking care of my wife's financial needs?
- How am I taking care of my wife's family needs?
- How am I taking care of my wife's security needs?
You were honest with yourself right? Good, because now I have a suggestion that might actually scare you. If you do this, you will be well on your way to a better understanding of the state of your union.
Ask your wife to also rate you in these same areas using a similar scale of 1 (i.e., you could not do any worse) to 5 (i.e., you are so perfect that it hurts; there is no room for improvement). Listen, don't just spring this list on your wife. Tell her what you're up to. Explain that you are trying to assess the state of your union and that her input is of utmost importance in the process. That said, here are the questions for your wife:
- How is my husband taking care of my emotional needs?
- How is my husband taking care of my spiritual needs?
- How is my husband taking care of my physical needs?
- How is my husband taking care of my financial needs?
- How is my husband taking care of my family needs?
- How is my husband taking care of my security needs?
Now that you have your self-assessed ratings and those provided by your wife, find a place where you can reflect on what you see. Don't get defensive or proud. Instead, consider ways in which you can improve the areas rated at the low end of the scale and how you can continue to meet your wife's needs in the areas with high ratings.
After you've had time to digest the ratings, talk with your wife openly about what you've learned. Ask questions and listen to your wife's answers with an open heart. Listen to learn.
Find out what you can do better and refuse the urge to derail the conversation. This is not about you pointing fingers or making excuses, but rather about you taking steps to improve the vitality of your marriage. It's about you acting with integrity and keeping the promises you made on your wedding day. Ultimately, this is all about you improving the state of your union.
So, what is the State of YOUR Union?