Questions have the power to change people…
For centuries, philosophers have known about the power of questions as a tool to finding the deeper truths about life. And questions are one of the central ways in which therapists (including marriage/couples counselors) help clients create more meaningful lives.
Certain questions have the potential to open up possibilities and shift ingrained perspectives that hold people back from reaching fuller potentials. Let’s focus on one such question that you can reflect on (and ask yourself) in order to build a stronger, more rewarding marriage/relationship.
Relationship Help Through Self-Questioning
The “What if?” question is designed to nudge you out of your typical (and at times self-limiting) ways of thinking and behaving. You can use this question in many different ways: To face your worst fears head-on (“What if I did lose my job, then what…”) or to imagine other new ways of being—for instance, moving closer to reaching your ideal as a spouse/partner.
Here are some ways you can use this question to shape and reshape your relationship (be mindful of any resistance and cynicism you might experience while reflecting on the questions below).
- You spent an entire day acting lovingly toward your spouse/partner, even if the marriage/relationship has been strained lately?
- You said, “I love and appreciate you so much” several times a day for an entire week?
- You asked your mate, “If there is anything I can do for you today, please let me know?”
- You imagined what if must be like for your spouse to be married to you when s/he’s upset with something you’ve done?
- You cooked dinner when it was unexpected?
- You made a concerted effort to understand your spouse’s/partner’s perspective even when you disagree over an issue?
- You stopped focusing on what hasn’t been working in the marriage/relationship and spent at least one week keeping a running list of all the little things that are actually making a difference?
- You gave your spouse a hug without being asked?
- You got the kids ready for school for the whole month?
- You genuinely said, “I’m sorry…what can I do to make this right?” the next time you upset your partner?
- You sent your wife/husband a “You mean the world to me” email or text message for no particular reason?
- You gave your partner a massage the next time s/he seems really stressed?
- You behaved like it was your partner’s birthday even when it isn’t?
- You made the morning coffee for your spouse?
- You went out of your way to surprise your partner in ways you know would please him/her?
- You put just a little bit more effort into being responsive to your spouse’s/partner’s requests?
Now I have two “What if” questions for you:
You took one or more of the above questions and each day made the conscious choice to use it to change your behavior in an effort to strengthen and improve your marriage/relationship—even when you don’t particularly feel in the mood to do so?
And What if…
You continued to practice this without having any expectations about how you’d like your spouse/partner to react to your new behaviors?
Until next time,
Dr. Rich Nicastro