Relationship Inventory: Asking the Right Questions to Deepen Connection!
I have worked with countless couples throughout the years helping them to overcome difficult relationship challenges. When couples first come to see me they are typically struggling with communication, intimacy, and with overall satisfaction in their relationship. The couples are in high levels of distress and need of finding real ways to overcome their problems. Many of the couples that I work with get better and start to experience more love and enjoyment from there relationship. They tend to get to a place where they no longer have high-intensity fights or bouts of prolonged distance. It’s like they have reached the point of healing in the relationship that is refreshing and renewing. However, many couples who are no longer in crisis want better ways of being able to connect with one another. What they are looking for are practical ways to be able to move past every day superficial conversations such as talking about the weather or how your day was at work. This is why I have developed what I call the Relationship Inventory Questions, or RIQ. The RIQ is a list of questions designed to specifically help couples move past surface level conversations and into deeper emotional conversations with each other. Below are a list of those questions. Each questions is followed by my explanation to help guide the conversation.
What’s going well? This is your opportunity to talk about your successes, your hopes, dreams, aspirations, and what has you excited in life. Most of us don’t have a problem talking about the good. It’s easy to talk about our success what were looking forward to. But this question is meant for you and your spouse or partner to dream together and support each other in achieving those dreams. It’s meant to celebrate which is so important to do especially in the world full of challenges. To take this time to really share your heart and joy with the person you love the most.
What are you struggling with? This is definitely a more difficult question but the truth is all of us have stuff that we struggle through. We all have disappointments, failures, fears and difficult circumstances. No one can do it alone. The goal of this question is to share the struggle you have with your spouse or partner. When we know that we are not alone and what we are facing we are stronger and indeed more resilient. When you answer this question be open and honest and share your heart. You will find that not only do you feel better but that your relationship will be stronger as you carry each other’s burdens.
How are we doing? The first two questions are more focused on you as an individual and sharing what you’re going through with your spouse or partner. They can certainly enhance your relationship. This question, however, is more focused on what’s happening between the two of you. The goal is to talk about the emotional connection between the two of you. A lot of couples have difficulty moving past daily events and into the emotional experience. When you talk about events try and share your emotions that are connected to the event. For instance, if you are talking about the kiss that your spouse gave you before he or she left for work also share the emotions that you felt during the experience. If you’re talking about an argument that the two of you had do not forget to share what it felt like deep down inside. You may have felt afraid, hurt, alone, or maybe you needed comfort. Ultimately you want this conversation to result in a clearer understanding of one another and a deeper connection.
Tell me about your relationship with God. For those of you who are Christian or who are coming from a religious background sharing your faith journey with your spouse is an excellent way of deepening your closeness. This is where you get to talk about your thoughts, feelings and all things related to spirituality and God. How was your soul? This is another great question to ask that helps couples support one another and spiritual growth. In addition to talking about your relationship with God you can also share Scripture reading and prayer. Praying together and praying for one another together is a deeply spiritual and relational experience. The ultimate goal in this conversation is to not only grow closer to each other but to God as well.
What are you thoughts? Having an intellectual exchange of ideas on any given topic leads to a greater depth of understanding and connection. Certainly there are times and topics that the two of you will not agree on. This is absolutely okay. And it is okay to have a spirited debate. In fact, the more secure and safe you feel with your spouse or partner the more you can express differences of opinion without fear of being judged or of losing connection. Mutual respect and care is built when you can have this type of intellectual conversation.
Safety and trust checklist. The safety and trust checklist is not so much a question but rather a tool that couples can use to gauge where they are in their relationship. It is important to note that while this tool appears at #6 on my list it is best to start any deeper conversation by first assessing the safety and trust level. If you do not feel safe you will not open up and vulnerably share with your spouse or partner. Safety and trust are all about having a felt sense of security and that your spouse or partner is a person that you can go to during a time of need. What I suggest is that you use a number scale of 1 to 10. 1 is low and 10 is high. The question is, “On a scale of 1 to 10 how safe do you feel in our relationship?” If the answer is 10 or somewhere on the higher end of the scale thats great. Talk about what’s happening in the relationship that is contributing to the safety. If the number is lower then this is an opportunity to discuss the blocks to feeling safe. Often times when you will find is talking about the reasons why it is lower were talking about the blocks to safety will often result in a breakthrough; meaning increased safety.
I hope the RIQ help you in your relationship. These questions can be for couples at all stages but they are specifically designed for couples who are not an high levels of distress and who want to find more effective ways of deepening their emotional bond. I recognize that this list is not complete and it is open to being revised. If you have a question that has worked to help you go deeper in your relationship then please do not hesitate to comment. I look forward to hearing what has worked for you.
To learn more about relationship counseling at Crossroads Counseling call us at 623-680-3486 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit our couples counseling page by clicking here.