A magic wand has yet to be created to instantly solve issues that come up in a marriage. In the meantime, there are some helpful questions to ask at any stage of a relationship that can add to or increase current happiness in a marriage. Using the answers to these questions will help strengthen your communication skills and guide you to an even better marriage.
The Miracle Question
The “Miracle Question” is a good first question to discuss with your partner. The Miracle Question asks that both of you think about any problems or concerns in the marriage, and what would need to happen to reduce them. Psychotherapist Insoo Kim Berg describes one way to implement the Miracle Question is by asking "Suppose a miracle happens overnight, tonight, when you go to bed. And all the problems ... are gone. Disappeared. But because this happens while you were sleeping, you have no idea that there was a miracle during the night. .... So when you are slowly waking up, coming out of your sleep, what might be the first, small clue that will make you think, 'Oh my gosh. There must have been a miracle during the night. The problem is all gone?'" The purpose of the miracle question is to shift your focusing from the problems to thinking in future-oriented terms.
Another question to ask about is exceptions -- times when you're not having problems. Couples typically devalue and minimize these exceptions, seeing them as flukes and ignore them to keep their focus on the problems. Focusing on exceptions is an important part of strengthening marriages, however. This places you as a couple in a more positive mindset, looking back at the times when the problem was not a problem. Recognizing exceptions allows you to find ways of having the exceptions happen more frequently. Family therapist Michael Nichols emphasizes that this allows couples to “explore these times and what was different about them” and “build on past successes.” Even in the best of marriages, there are usually even small things that can be worked on to make a marriage better.
Scaling questions help you visualize where you are in your marriage and where you want to be: “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 indicating there is much room for improvement and 10 being perfect, where is the marriage at now?” Once you determine a number, you can continue to look at where you are now, and discover small steps to get to a higher number on the scale and increased satisfaction. For example, if the answer given was a 6, the next question could be “so what would needs to happen to get this from a 6 to a 7? What would be different?” Couples typically find it is easier to make these small changes, a little at a time, which can make a big difference in the end.
Couples can use these questions for many issues that come up in a marriage. They are designed to help you and your partner to see situations from a different angle and to think about the issues you need to address from a different perspective. Having a different view allows new thoughts, ideas and experiences to develop. By discussing these questions and the answers you discover with your partner, you will be on your way to a stronger, healthier, happier marriage.
- Psychotherapy.net: Insoo Kim Berg on Brief Solution-Focused Therapy
- The Essentials of Family Therapy; Michael P. Nichols
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