Tuesday, May 4, 2010

For Couples: Are You Asking these Questions?

In preparing to be a guest on Lori Pritchard's The Life Coach Hour radio program, I began working on a list of questions. I was inspired to try to identify important issues for couples to explore while dating. The questions below are intended to help couples begin discussions on many issues. I developed the list based on common issues that I see couples struggle with in therapy. I also had great input from the brain trust of psychologists in the Feminist Psychologist Moms group.

If you've been reading my other posts, you know that I am committed to strong communication as part of a healthy relationship. I think that many couples could avoid challenges if they would explore some of the "big" questions in the early stages of their relationship.

I hope that these questions are useful to you, and that they promote the kind of communication that builds strong, healthy relationships.

Questions Committed Couples Should Explore:

1. What are your goals in life (kids, career, financial planning, area of residence, etc.)?
2. How does your family of origin handle conflict? communication? displaying affection?
3. What makes you feel loved?
4. What have been your biggest challenges with former roommates, family members, or others you have shared living space with?
5. What do you think about division of household labor: cleaning, cooking, maintenance, etc?
6. How do you express anger? hurt? frustration? How do you handle conflict when it arises? How good are you at brainstorming solutions? What is your style of communication? Have the two of you seen any differences in how you let each other know how you're feeling or what you're thinking? How will you handle those differences?
7. How do you manage your money? Are you a spender, saver, planner, etc.? Do you have significant debt? What are your plans?
8. What are the most difficult challenges you have experienced so far in life (death of loved ones, financial problems, mental or physical health concerns, etc.)
9. How do you function when you are stressed out?
10. What are your core values: family, job, religion, money, friends, social standing, volunteerism, etc?
11. What is your religious/spiritual orientation?
12. How connected are you to your family of origin? What are expectations in terms of holidays, kids, other family time?
13. How do you each get along with the others family? How will you handle conflicts between your partner and your family if/when they arise?
14. What are your experiences and attitudes toward sex and physical intimacy? How willing are you to learn and explore?
15. Are you socially conservative or socially liberal? How do you negotiate differences of opinion?
16. How do you relax? Do you need quiet time or people time?
17. If you want to have children, what are your parenting values? How do you want to handle teaching and discipline?
18. If you want to have children, how have you imagined that a child might change your life? change your relationship? how will you handle the change? how will you handle the addition of labor and division of labor that comes with having a child?
19. How have the two of you built trust with each other?

Please feel free to share additional thoughts or questions!