5 Dangerous Questions to Ask about Your Marriage
- Arlene Pellicane ArlenePellicane.com
- 2016 2 Mar
If you want a better relationship with your spouse, begin by asking better questions. There are obvious questions that are invitations to arguments such as “Do these jeans make me look fat?” and “Do you even know how to cook a decent meal?” Most of us are smart enough to avoid these types of questions. But there are other bad questions that get through our filter.
The dictionary defines dangerous as “involving possible injury, harm, or death.” If you regularly ask your spouse dangerous questions like the following two, it’s likely you will cause harm and pain to your marriage.
Dangerous Question #1: Why don’t you…?
Fill in the blank with an insult such as “Why don’t you ever listen to me? Why don’t you make more money? Why don’t you do a better job cleaning up the house? Why don’t you help more with the kids?” These dangerous questions communicate contempt for your spouse. They quickly put your spouse on the defensive. Instead of affirming the marriage, these questions tear down.
Researcher Dr. John Gottman has discovered the four horsemen that predict early divorce: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. You don’t want to ask critical, contemptuous questions that push your spouse to stonewall and become defensive.
Dangerous Question #2: Should we stop fighting for our marriage?
I received a sad email from a woman a few weeks ago. It simply said, “I wish I had found your books sooner, but it’s too late. I can’t fight for my marriage anymore.” The truth is every marriage is worth fighting for (except for cases such as adultery although even then, I believe it is worth the battle if your spouse is repentant). Unfortunately, many couples go into marriage with an escape clause buried in the fine print. Yet Jesus said in Matthew 19:6 that the husband and wife are no longer two, but one flesh. Whatever God has joined together, let no one separate. Married is designed by God to be a forever covenant between two people until death.
So instead of asking “Should we stop fighting for our marriage?” ask “How can we fight for our marriage?” Don’t allow your mind to give up when things get tough. The Apostle Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 7:28, “Those who marry will face many troubles in this life.” Just because you’re facing trouble doesn’t mean your marriage is destined for failure.
These first two questions have been examples of what not to ask. However, there are good questions that are dangerous because the answers may be painful and uncomfortable to hear. These questions aren’t meant to put down your spouse. They are meant to help you improve your marriage. These are dangerous questions I encourage you to ask if you dare:
Dangerous Question #3: How can I become more attractive to you?
I know it’s a loaded question that can trigger many sensitive subjects. When my husband James grew a goatee, the answer to that question would have been very easy for me. Please shave it off. Looks are especially important to men as they are more visually oriented than women. In my book 31 Days to a Happy Husband, I quote Willard Harley about a husband’s fundamental need for an attractive spouse:
By calling for a wife to be attractive, I mean she should take pains to look something like the woman her husband married. After all, that was the woman he fell in love with, not a movie star or some other fantasy. Does this mean a woman must stay eternally young? Of course not, but getting older provides no excuse for letting weight creep up and up, not fixing your hair, and dressing like a bag lady.
A wife may not worry about her husband’s appearance as much, but it may be very attractive to her when he showers her with sincere compliments and listens to her heart.
Dangerous Question #4: What’s it like to be married to me?
Is it a joy? Is it a chore? Author Linda Dillow asks this question in her book What’s It Like to Be Married to Me? Although she’s writing to wives, this advice from Linda applies to both men and women:
Too often we focus on all the things about our husbands that we don’t like and wish we could change. You know what it is like to be married to your mate, but how often do you think about what it is like for him to be married to you? If you woke up tomorrow and discovered you were married to you, would you be delighted? Or would you be devastated?
Here’s an idea for your next coffee date. Swap drinks and see life from your spouse’s perspective for a few minutes. Ask the dangerous question, “What’s it like to be married to me?”
Dangerous Question #5: What’s one thing I can do this week to improve our marriage?
This is a dangerous question because if your spouse gives you something to do, you’ve pretty much committed yourself to try. It’s easier not to ask for the feedback. My husband James read a menu once that had a fitting quote, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
There are many dangerous questions in marriage. Some you must avoid; others you must embrace. What questions do you need to quit asking? What questions would bring you and your spouse closer together?
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a guest on the Today Show, Family Life Today, The 700 Club and Turning Point with David Jeremiah. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at www.ArlenePellicane.com.
Publication date: March 2, 2016