“We must become more comfortable swimming in a sea of questions rather than standing rigidly on islands of concrete beliefs.” Jordan Paul in The Heart of the Matter
Linda: I often have couples come to my office that feel disconnected from each other. They lack role models in their own families to show them what happy connected couples are doing together and how they are communicating. They ask me for specific examples. It has happened so often that I have written down some of the questions that I have offered to them to use during their homework when they do their “check ins” with each other. Those couples that sit down regularly to do their independent study graduate from the therapy sooner, and find that their relationship begins to flourish. They have then joined the leagues of happy couples that lean into the challenge of mastering the art of asking the best questions.
Delving into the important questions keeps both partners alert and involved. It’s easy for a relationship to get boring and stale. The juice can drain out of it; and with the loss of juice dissatisfaction can set in. If questions are posed consistently throughout the relationship, there will be an alertness that will allow for the deepest listening, sharing, and connection.
The Buddhists call it child’s mind or beginner’s mind. It’s this open mind that assists us to stay pliable, allows us to easily learn from each other, and provides the opportunity to make the relationship great. To cultivate the curiosity and wonder of the child’s mind is a great gift that we give our partner as well as ourselves. It is the responsibility of both partners to delve deeply into what is true in each partner’s experience. Here are some examples of some juicy questions that will stimulate deep communication with your partner:
- On a scale from 0 to 10, what number would we each give to the well-being or lack thereof of our partnership?
- What is the responsible explanation for that number?
- What would it take on each of our parts to bring the number higher?
- What does it mean to live with an open heart?
- What would it take for each of us to open more fully?
- What are the illusions that keep our hearts closed that we can let go of?
- How many of our fears can we release in learning to trust another?
- Can we risk giving up the “security” of our beliefs to gain the experience of our heart’s deepest desires?
- Are you interested in finding out what is really true?
- What are the most important teachings that I have brought to you?
- Is it important to have other people agree with you?
- If so, why?
- Do you often experience yourself as defending your position?
- Do you see yourself as an open person?
- Do you believe that you are clear about what your work is to grow?
- Are there things that you would like me to take on as my work to do?
- What is the most skillful way to handle anger?
- In what way, or ways do you feel that I am attempting to make you more like me?
- How do we have an argument that we both win?
- What part of our dark shadows have we not owned and are projecting on to each other?
- What part of our golden shadows have we not owned and are projecting on to each other?
- How do we build trust back after it has fallen?
- What does it really mean to be responsible?
- What for me, are examples of compassionate self-care?
- What for you, are examples of compassionate self-care?
- What is each of our special gifts to give the world?
- How can we support each other to give our unique gifts?
- If I were to lose you through separation or death, what unfinished business would we each have?
- How can we each become more loving people?
- My beloved, how may I best love you?
When we see that the real question is not “are we able to?” to ask the meaningful questions, but “are we willing to?” we have accepted responsibility for the direction that our relationship will take. In doing so we stop playing it safe by avoiding, or being a critical judge, to become a truly loving partner.