(Adapted from Stanford, 2016. See citations at bottom of this article.)
1. The family styles of conflict question.
When you were growing up, how did your family handle disagreements? What did that feel like and how did that work in your household?
For example, did family members “throw energy” by getting angry, yelling or slamming doors? Did they twist their intent around by using sarcasm? Did they erect an “energetic wall” by physically withdrawing into another room, using the silent treatment or practicing denial? Or was the energy in your home, disorganized, cloudy and confusing?
That leads to being uncertain about where family members stood on the disagreement which, in turn, makes it nearly impossible to settle a dispute. Or did your family designate a time to sit down and hold a discussion where there was a smooth flow of energy; decisions were made and agreements were upheld? Or, was it a mix of everything mentioned? What effect did these family-based conflict pattern have on you?
The research on this matter is clear. The habits of conflict that we learned or reacted to in our family of origin are carried into our new relationships. Knowing this will help you and your partner create new ways to handle your disagreements without simply playing an, “old family tape.”
2. How important is sex to you?
This is a major question I ask couples and I often get asked this question in return: “What’s the normal frequency or type of sex we should be having?” My answer is usually the same. There is no “normal.” What matters is that you and your partner can dialogue about sex and how important it is to you and come to some agreement about that.
3. Can you recognize the ways I say “I Love You?”
This question is drawn from the bestselling book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. The author categorizes the ways people express their love to their partners in five distinct behaviors.
These categories include:
- words of affirmation (aligned with the energetic component of speaking from the heart center)
- quality time (energetically being present and undistracted; i.e., turn off electronics and give your partner all your attention)
- receiving gifts (In many cultures gift giving is symbolic of thoughtfulness and a gesture of belonging)
- acts of service (you express love by doing things for your beloved)
- physical touch (Every square inch of skin contains more than 1,000 nerve endings that can be stimulated. Think of the pleasure potential!)
4. If we encounter problems in our marriage, would you consider seeking professional help?
Surprisingly, in my practice, I often find one partner is interested in marital counseling or coaching, the other might not be. It’s difficult to help such couples.
* Henriques, M. (2018, December 4). The best time of the year to get engaged? BBC Future. Retrieved from: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20181204-best-month-to-get-engaged-married-pregnant-and-divorced
**Fisher, H. (2000). Lust, attraction, attachment: Biology and evolution of the three primary emotion systems for mating, reproduction and parenting. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy. 25(1), 96-104.
*** Stanford, E. (2016, March 24). 13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married. The New York Times. Retrieved from:https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/03/23/fashion/weddings/marriage-questions.html