Couples Question Dare
One question that can change the climate of your relationship for the better.
Those that work with me know that I have dedicated both my personal and professional life to getting the most out of marriage, by learning to invest in a relationship in order to have a love that goes the distance and a marraige that lasts a lifetime. I enjoy most doing this transformative work with the Gottman Method. Along this journey I get excited when I come across super cool resources that are practical and easy to apply, yet have a rippling effect of positive change, that have couples in awe. One simple activity could be the key to experiencing the much needed progress and movement within their relationship in the areas of conflict and friendship, helping them create a meaningful strong relationship with a love that last a lifetime.
One such resource that I came across recently is actually part of what’s called “The State of the Union” that the Gottman method speaks to completing on a weekly basis. Within this State of the Union one of the questions you ask your partner is what you could do to demonstrate love in the week to come. In reading this element it got me thinking, what if we were to isolate that question and make it a daily exercise. I started out with my clients, at the beginning of each session after they would state their appreciation’s for their partner I would have them answer that question. The question proved to be insightful for both the person asking and the person answering. It’s from their combined with a Kindness Challenge I did it a while back that got me to make it an assigned daily homework assignment.
So are you ready to transform the climate of your relationship with the one question?
Here’s the way it works:
Everyday ask your partner the one question. The question is:
"What can I do for you today to make you feel loved?"
Pretty simple right?
Ummm.....yes and no. Some couples have come across some obstacles that I think would be wise to sit in for second before starting your very own adventure with the question.
It doesn’t feel authentic/natural. It feels prescribed. First, I love when clients are honest about their objections or resistance to completing a task as it gives us a moment to process and gain insight. With this particular obstacle I’d like to challenge you to think of all the many things in our daily activities that don’t feel authentic/natural, that feels prescribed. Take for example when you’re learning how to rollerblade. This has been an endeavor in which I recently embarked upon and nothing about breaking feels authentic/natural. I have been watching videos, reading blogs, talking with more experienced skaters and watching people skate live. It’s all prescribed if we are honest about it and I’m okay with putting the energy into the prescription in order to learn how to rollerblade successfully and not fall on my face (like I did the other day…talk about embarrassing). With all that being said shouldn’t I put that same amount of energy into enhancing my relationship? It isn’t natural/authentic in the beginning but with time it will and can be.
I don’t want to try something new. Lots of people have a resistance to trying something new. We are creatures of habit and we most definitely have our ways of doing things. Anything that comes in and shakes that way up has us responding with resistance. It takes courage to step out of one’s comfort zone and stretch oneself with something new.
Why should I have to ask. Love is a dance. You’ve probably heard of the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, which amazingly organizes our love styles into 5 different languages, but what if we can make love even more doeable by taking out the guess work of loving well. The crazy thing is that it’s actually not hard to love one another, the complication comes in with consistency. This is another reason why I love the Gottman method, in that it speaks to a motto “Small things often” for better or worse. Small things often is part of the foundation of friendship and increases connection through what’s called turning toward each other. Not to mention that you are depositing into the emotional bank account of your partner.
I don’t want to do one more thing. I’m always doing and giving. It’s their turn to start contributing. I can relate it’s hard to jump in with both feet when the other person is not fully committed or appears to be not fully committed to the realtionship. This will be an exercise in trust and trusting the process of changing the climate within your relationship. The crazy thing is that this question becomes a double benefit to both partners. Spolier alert! This becomes a trust building exercise that not only benefits the partner being loved on but the partner asking. One receives, while the other develops the habit of mind of thinking of their partner with regard to lifting and prioritizing the realtionship. This is a process of changing the tide of the relationship with integrating positivity in small yet big ways. There is also an influencing aspect to it as well, that of the partner at times starts to reciprocate the positivity being shown to them.
Ready to experience what clients have reported as an overall climate change within their repationship?
Ask your partner, "What is one thing I can do to show you love today?"
It’s great if you do it in the morning, in order to have all day to complete it.
Make sure you complete it.
The next day ask again, and the next day. Ask for 30 days in order to make it a habit.
Pay attention to the climate of your relationship. Pay attention to your patner's response. Don’t assume anything is going to happen. Just notice. It’s not a tally system. The point is to change the climate of your relationship. It’s about changing from a negative to a positive cycle within your relationship.
Be consistent. Consistency of asking the question. The consistency of following through.
Marriage is an adventure and sometimes the choices that we make can make that adventure an exciting one or one that drains the life out of us. Introducing fun and creative activities/exercises into the relationship not only enhances the climate of our relationship but it also strengthens and deepens the friendship.
Have fun. Show yourself some mercy if you miss a day just get right back on it the next day.
Yvette E. McDonald is the owner and counselor at Traveling Light Counseling, a practice for couples helping them create an intimate partnership for the journey of life in the Port Saint Lucie and Martin County area.
I'm passionate about couples creating a strong friendship and foundation that can go the distance. If you're in the Saint Lucie or Martin County Area and couple life isn't quite what you expected it to be at this point in your journey, please give me a call at 772-361-8448 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation.