Category Archives: Family

20 Questions for Couples

20 Questions: The Power of Curiosity

Curiosity: the relationhip enhancer The moment we allow ourselves to get curious about something or someone, and drop into a state of wonder, our perception changes.  The world becomes a novel, refreshing place again as we stop thinking we already know how that thing works, or how that person will react.

Two friends of mine, Kay and Gina are masters of curiosity, taking it to an art form.  Our biking trips are filled with unique, laughter-filled encounters with “the locals” because these two women are willing to ask strangers questions, that might typically feel unnerving, except for the fact, the questions are asked from such a place of genuine curiosity, there is no sharpness; the sense of wonder about who the person is, free from any label or judgment, is so evident that curiosity takes the edge out of their line of questioning.

 Hedonic Adaptation Kills Curiosity:

Now, granted, the road-trip curiosity is fueled in part by the fresh and unique cast of characters in each town; however, wouldn’t it be something to bring the level of curiosity demonstrated by Kay and Gina back into our long-term relationships with our lovers, friends, and family?

We know from happiness research, that in most aspects of our lives, we get used to the surroundings and circumstances that stay the same; this phenomena is called “hedonic adaptation.” What was once new and exciting—be it a lover, a new house, car, restaurant, or jogging route—nearly always loses its luster over time.  Our curiosity is dampened when we get comfortable, and when we begin to think we know all there is to know about someone; this assumption leads us to jump in with an interpretation of an action or situation, or quickly assign judgment, or label, because we are so certain.

 Create A Love Map:

An honest question, sparked by genuine curiosity, is one way to go on a mini road-trip with the people in your life.  In fact, by asking questions like the ones from the list below is a good way to create your “Love Map”; a term coined by John Gottman, a world renowned psychologist for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction.

A love map comprises the area of your brain where you file all the important things to know about the people you love.  In other words,  you have “created cognitive room in your brain for your relationship”.  According to Gottman, couples who have created detailed love maps of each other’s worlds are far better prepared to cope with stressful events and conflict.

If you find yourself in a candle-lit restaurant worried about becoming, or knowing you have become, one of those couples who sit there and not say a single word to each other, then you can use this list of questions to spark curiosity and start the conversation flowing.

 20 Questions:

The following questions are part of Gottman’s 20 Questions Game.  Points are assigned each question.  To play the game according to Gottman rules, see the bottom of this post.

  1.   Name my two closest friends. (2)
  2. What is my favorite musical group, composer, or instrument? (2)
  3. What was I wearing when we first met? (2)
  4. Name one of my hobbies. (3)
  5. What stresses am I facing right now? (4)
  6. Describe in detail what I did today, or yesterday? (4)
  7. Who is my favorite relative? (2)
  8. What is my fondest unrealized dream? (5)
  9. What is my favorite flower? (2)
  10. What is one of my greatest fears or disaster scenarios? (3)
  11. What is my favorite time of day for lovemaking? (3)
  12. What makes me feel the most competent? (4)
  13. What turns me on sexually? (3)
  14. What is my favorite meal? (2)
  15. What is my favorite way to spend an evening? (2)
  16. What personal improvements do I want to make in my life? (4)
  17. What is my favorite get-away place? (3)
  18. What am I most sad about? (4)
  19. Who was my best friend in childhood? (3)
  20. Name one of my major rivals or “enemies.” (3)
  21. What kind of books do I like to read? (3)
  22. What was my most embarrassing moment? (3)
  23. What was my worst childhood experience? (3)
  24. Name two people I admire most (3)
  25. What are two of my aspirations, hopes, wishes? (4)
  26. Do I have a secret ambition? What is it? (4)
  27. What is one of my favorite desserts? (2)
  28. What do I fear the most (4)
  29. What are some of the most important events coming up in my life and how do I feel about them? (4)
  30. What is my favorite animal? (2)

Questions from:  Gottman, John and Nan Silver.  The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  New York: Three Rivers Press, 1991.

Directions: Play this game in the spirit of laughter and gentle fun.

Step One:  Each of you take a piece of paper and pen or pencil.  Together randomly decide on twenty numbers between 1 and 30.  Write the numbers down in a column on the left-hand side of your paper.

Step Two: Below is a list of numbered questions.  Beginning with the top of your column, match the numbers you chose with the corresponding question.  Each of you should ask your partner this question.  If your partner answers correctly (you be the judge), he or she receives the number of points indicated for that question and you receive one point.  If he/she answers incorrectly, neither of you receives any points.  The same rules apply when you answer.  The winner is the person with the higher score after you’ve both answered all twenty questions.

For the complete list of 60 questions please visit this resource:  Gottman, John and Nan Silver.  The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  New York: Three Rivers Press, 1991.

Treating Your Partner like a Child?

Marriage tip: Stop treating your husband like a child

Women referring to their husbands as another child is an unhealthy dynamic in a marriage relationship, according to Christine Meinecke of Psychology Today.

“Even though the appropriate model for relating to a romantic partner is adult-to-adult, most of us, when frustrated, resort to parent-to-child relating,” Meinecke wrote.

Reddit user “Fran” (pseudonym) realized she was treating her husband like a child after what she called her “hamburger meat moment.” The post, which got hundreds of responses, described Fran’s reaction to her husband’s efforts at grocery shopping:

“I started pulling things out of the bag, and realized he’d gotten the 70/30 hamburger meat — which means it’s 70 percent lean and 30 percent fat.

“I asked, ‘What’s this?’

“‘Hamburger meat,’ he replied, slightly confused.

“‘You didn’t get the right kind,’ I said ‘You got the 70/30. I always get at least the 80/20.’

“He laughed. ‘Oh. That’s all? I thought I’d really messed up or something.’ ”

Fran followed this exchange with a long tirade filled with “righteous indignation” about her husband’s lack of caring, inattention, inability to read labels and lack of knowledge about of all things, hamburger meat.

In the end, Fran’s husband looked like a scolded child, and Fran realized she’d made a mistake. “The bottom line in all this is that I chose this man as my partner. He’s not my servant. He’s not my employee. He’s not my child,” she wrote.

After an exchange at a party where he met a woman who referred to her husband as her “third child,” fatherhood blogger Frederick J. Goodall wrote: “Most men have a deep desire to feel respected. If you ask a group of men if they’d rather be respected or liked, the majority of them would say respected. When one spouse treats the other as a child, the relationship becomes unbalanced.”

Respect goes both ways, Goodall added. “Respect is something given freely and is based on love and honor. My wife encourages me and lets me know how much she appreciates the things I do for our family and I do the same for her.”

Blogger Selena Mills wrote that treating her husband like a child was “the one thing I stopped doing to improve my marriage,” but that it was “easier said than done.”

“Oh, it’s hard. So hard to bite my tongue with (not so) subtle reminders like, ‘fold all the laundry together in individual little piles, it’ll be so much easier to put away!’ Or, ‘please remember to sort the laundry!’ ” Mills wrote.

Much of the time, what motivates wives to scold their husbands is the husband’s perceived (or actual) incompetence with household chores or child care. Women spend an average of three hours a week redoing chores previously done by their husbands or partners, according to a Huffington Post report of a British study.

If quality of housework or child care is a real issue and not just a difference of opinion, that problem should be discussed as part of an adult-adult, not a parent-child, type of exchange, according to Meinecke.

“Take the opportunity to interrupt this pattern by changing the way you respond,” Meinecke wrote. “By responding constructively, you also offer your spouse a new option. With practice, any couple can transition from parent-child relating to adult-adult relating.”

11 Things I Learned From Being Cheated On!

11 Things I Learned From Being Cheated On
As relationship coaches, my wife and I both often talk to couples dealing with sexual dissatisfaction and frustration in their relationships. After the initial “honeymoon phase,” when anything and  Read 

Having been cheated on early in my life, I understandably internalized feelings of rejection. As a result, I closed myself off from my own faucet of truth, the one that told me that I was worthy, able and important.

Infidelity was like a trigger to a bottomless well of insecurity and feelings of inadequacy, which separated me from what I always felt was my true, carefree and joyful nature.

It is only now that I can look back and understand the lessons that I learned, and that we can all learn, in response to betrayal. Here are 11 kernels of wisdom that I hope you can take to heart, and realize that your well of truth is always yours, regardless of what anyone else says or does.

1. Nothing is ever personal (even when it is).

People cheat for a number of reasons, and it has nothing to do with you or the qualities you think you might be lacking. Cheaters, and liars in general, are often lost within their own kingdom of pain and we have to recognize that. It’s not us. It’s them.

2. Misery loves misery (and love loves love).

How can someone treat us with the respect and honesty we deserve when they can’t take an honest look into the mirror? Infidelity can be a blessing, because it alerts us to the fact that we need to seek a relationship that we deserve, not one that reinforces our insecurities.

3. Self-worth can never be taken away.

One of the most important things we can have in this life is an understanding of our personal value. Individual worth is something that we will always be called to come back to in our times of struggle (and success!). Always respect yourself first and foremost. Self-respect is all you’ve got, but it’s also a huge gift.

4. Honesty really is the best policy.

The cliché holds. The truth holds our power to access happiness and strength.

5. Prioritize protection.

My partner was having unprotected sex with other men, and while I am grateful to not have suffered any health repercussions, discovering this caused a deep enough trauma that caused me to run away from a number of topics within my personal life. I even avoided getting tested for a long time afterward, which was one of many reasons my issues with addiction started to spiral out of control. The message here is simple: know your status, get tested and let the importance of protection be an open topic between you and your partner.

6. Nothing is worth avoiding.

When something feels off, don’t be shy to search for what is causing the discomfort. I let my emotions and feelings entangle me in a web of denial and delusion. When I look back, I see how I could’ve untangled myself if I had made space to ask myself questions about what I wanted and how I felt about what was going on at the time.

7. Forgive.

Even when you don’t think someone who hurt you “deserves” it. Holding resentment only hurts us at the end of the day.

8. Always accept apologies.

For so long, I felt as if everything was my fault and failed to see why other people would apologize to me due to my own, sometimes subconscious, feelings of unworthiness. When I awoke to the reality that I was worthy of an apology, I allowed room for closure.

9. Things fall apart for other things to be created.

I wouldn’t be here writing this article if it weren’t for this experience in my life, so — one of many cases closed.

10. The most important relationship in your life isn’t what you think.

No one will ever complete us. The only way you can feel complete is by honoring yourself. Of course, you can seek and find a meaningful romantic relationship. But that only happens when the two people getting together each already know, honor and love themselves; their union is built on a foundation of strength rather than codependency.

11. Pain can actually make us happier in the end.

Strength is a form of resilience, and is something we gain from undergoing pain. What if we allowed every wrong we’ve ever experienced to shine a light on all that is right in our lives? Instead of suffocating in the thralls of defeat, deceit and dread, we can appreciate our struggles for letting them guide us to greater discovery within.

When we approach our darkest moments, we allow ourselves to heal from what isn’t meant for us. In relationships, we are often melting into one another and can find ourselves throwing away our personal identities as we become “one” with another. It’s easy for us to get caught up in our need for validation from another person and forget that, at the end of the day, we are the one person who needs to meet our needs.

Many of us want to devote our entire existence to the one we love, but I’ve learned how that existence can come crashing down. As long as we have a solid foundation in who we are, we will always be able to weather any storm. Feeling safe doesn’t necessarily come from a lover’s embrace, but from standing on our own two feet.

Photo Credit: Stocksy


Artist, actor, and creator/writer of, Garrett Paknis lives in downtown NYC where he spends his days and nights creating things in hopes to inspire people to live from the deepest part of themselves.