Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Importance of Asking the Right Questions to in a Romantic Adult Loving Relationship

Whenever talking or lecturing about adult loving relationships, I never fail to underscore the importance of people in a relationship to remain cognizant of the questions that they ask themselves and each other regarding their relationship. As a matter of fact, it is a major theme in the two new self-help books I am writing about adult loving relationships.

The importance of asking the "right" questions was highlighted for me when I was talking with a couple who I will refer to as Sandra and Jimmy. From the beginning to the end of our first counseling session, the two of them continuously seemed to be coming up with "the answers" to the problems in their relationship. Compounding their difficulties, nonetheless, was the fact that each of their "answers" tended to have something to do with the other person. In an attempt to change this pattern in their thinking and in their problem solving mode, I invited them to accept a homework assignment.

"Between now and our next session,” I said, “I would like for each of you to come up with a list of questions that each of you may attempt to answer. Importantly, I would like your questions to be specifically focused on your relationship – not on either of you in particular."

Jimmy turned to me and said, "I think I understand what you mean." Sandra nodded in agreement as well. When they returned for our next session, they indeed had an interesting list of questions. For example:

1. Could we have a loving relationship?

2. How long might it last?

3. What would we have to do in order to have a loving relationship?

4. Under what conditions could we have an adult loving relationship?

5. What would each of us expect from our "ideal" relationship?

As we processed their individual questions, we then identified the top six questions that the two of them agreed needed to be addressed (those above). Then, between our second session and our third session, each of them wrote out their individual "responses" to the six questions that they had jointly identified. In the process of discussing each of their "responses," we noted that they actually concluded the exercise with more questions than what they had started with!

A reason for sharing Sandra and Jimmy's experience with you is to highlight the importance of attempting to assure that in an adult loving relationship we continue to focus on the important questions regarding our relationship and the process by which we try to identify our individual and collective responses to those questions.

Question: What would be an important question for you and your significant other to address?



Misa Ramirez said...

Like my husband says, "If mom isn't happy, no one's happy." Obviously the quote didn't originate with him, but the premise is valid. We have to make ourselves happy first, bottom line. Then we will have the best of ourselves to offer.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Misa,
Your husband is a smart man -- and, I would offer, you're a fortunate woman.
I don't know where it originated from either (but I do know that my so indeed believes in it and uses it frequently).

DH said...

For me, the question would be--How shall we define "us"?
I can define me. You can define you. But, let's define us together. DH

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello DH,
Wow... excellent point -- that "we" should define "us." And how many couplew do we know that have problems because their "us" is defined by one of them and the other "goes along."