Thursday, July 23, 2009

Questions for couples

I have some useful questions for couples that are married or might soon be, but first a confession:

Readers might think that I have a perfect relationship with the lovely Carol, or that things are always smooth between us. This is not so; we have our share of struggles. We've said things we wish we could take back, and sometimes things are very uncomfortable. Marriage takes work, and sometimes help is needed from a counselor.

We visited one a few weeks ago, and I wrote down some of the questions we discussed:
  1. What works well in your relationship? What do you wish were different?
  2. What are three adjectives that describe your parents' relationship as a couple? Do you admire that relationship?
  3. Who are your models for what it means to spend time together as a couple?
  4. What are your models for resolving conflicts in an intimate relationship?
Obviously variations and extensions are possible -- how did your parents resolve conflicts, what adjectives describe the couple(s) you cited in #3 or #4, etc?

These were great questions for us. #1 for example gave me a chance to enumerate some things I love about our marriage: we smile a lot, I get a kiss in the morning and when I come home, she keeps the house tidy, she listens to me and cares about me, she's a great cook, I love discussing ideas (from books and articles) with her, etc. I didn't mention that I really like the shape of her body (which I do) or, uh, well, I'll stop there.

#3 was also good, because her parents had a different model of spending time together than mine do. That just might have some impact on how each of us thinks about that aspect of relationships.

Though we've been married almost 23 years, I don't think we've ever talked about how our parents' relationships worked, what we liked about their relationships, etc. Until now.

We also talked about what to do when things start to get uncomfortable, but I'll save that for another posting.

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