Several weeks ago, we talked about how any relationship can hit a dry spell, where the conversation lags a bit. So we suggested 10 questions to ask over dinner to stir things up. They were basic and fun – nothing too deep. It was just a way to get people talking around a dinner table.
Then a week or so later, we added 10 more questions, slightly deeper than the first. They were meant to build on the results of the first 10.
I’ve had several people tell me that the questions opened up some genuine dialogue. All they needed was a few questions to get them started, and the momentum began to build.
So I have one more question. This one’s riskier, and you want to think carefully about your relationship before you ask it.
It’s only for healthy relationships. If there’s mistrust in the relationship, don’t go here. Without a base of trust, it could just open a can of worms that you don’t want opened.
Here’s the question – a two-part question, actually:
- On a 10-point scale (10 is best), how am I doing as a spouse?
- If it’s not a 10, what would it take to get me to a 10?
Here’s a couple of disclaimers:
- Don’t just ask the question at dinner and expect an immediate response. Talk one night about the question itself, to see if you’re ready to go there. If not, work on the relationship itself, possibly using a counselor or therapist to grow through the tough issues. In a healthy relationship, introduce the question one night, then take time for both parties to consider their responses for a few days before revisiting the question.
- No matter what they say, don’t defend yourself. You’re asking for their perspective so you can understand where they’re coming from. You’re not trying to change them. You just want to see through their eyes. Thank them for taking the risk, then take a few days or weeks to process what you’ve heard before talking about it.
- Keep the focus where it belongs. The tendency is to focus on what we could do to get a higher score. But it’s usually not about what we do; it’s about who we become.
- In an unhealthy relationship, it’s obvious how this question could draw out a lot of pent-up criticism. That’s why it’s good to save this question until things are going well in the relationship. If things are shaky, don’t ask the question; just talk about the question.
Relationships take time. There’s no rush. These questions are all about getting us talking. If we begin to talk more, we’ll begin to hear each other’s hearts. When that happens, our relationships will grow . . .
. . . and we’ll be able to ask the challenging questions that can only make our relationships stronger.