The One Thing Couples Can Do to Improve Their Relationship

The million-dollar question we can ask ourselves for relational growth.

Posted Apr 30, 2019

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It is the questions that we ask ourselves – and others – that help foster individual and relational growth. The quality, not the quantity, of questions, is what matters.  

One good question can be a catalyst for change by prompting others to follow. It’s like peeling an onion. Once you peel the first layer, it’s easy to go deeper and deeper. Stories naturally unfold and revelation occurs as a result of a good inquiry.  Knowing which questions to ask that will trigger the opening and spiraling process is key. 

The process of change

Change is not all or nothing: It’s a process. It’s opening the door and allowing the space to discover ourselves and our partner. And it's a life-long journey, not an end destination. 

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We are always in the process of becoming something we seek to be and never were before. If we are seeking personal and relational growth, the one powerful question that we might want to ask ourselves to help move forward is:  

What is the one positive change I can make in my life that will make the greatest impact on my life – by moving me closer to achieving my goals and dreams – and increase my overall happiness?                     

That is the million-dollar question because it addresses awareness, which is the most important and first step to achieving happiness.  

Awareness is a prerequisite for positive change 

How can we be, do, and achieve what we want, and increase our well-being if we’re not aware of our behavior in the first place?  

Judy Saltzberg, a clinical psychologist and professional coach at the University of Pennsylvania, mentions that when coaching she focuses on asking questions that increase self-awareness.  

And James Prochaska, professor of clinical and health psychology at the University of Rhode Island and author of Changing To Thrive: Overcome the Top Risks to Lasting Health and Happiness, illustrates how awareness needs to be present before positive change can happen. Prior to that, during the pre-contemplation stage, people are not yet aware and can’t, therefore, incorporate any changes into their daily lives.  

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To quote prolific British author G.K.  Chesterton, “It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It’s that they can’t see the problem.” Once we acknowledge the problem, we might want to ask ourselves daily what is the one positive action I can take today to help move forward in life.  

Eminent psychologist and philosopher William James stressed the importance of continuous and frequent action in order to build character. He emphasized paying attention to what we do rather than how we feel.  Heeding his wise advice can help us cultivate healthy habits that lead to happiness. 

In sum, by reminding ourselves every day of the importance of inquiry and breaking down our action into small steps, we are more likely to direct our attention to those small changes we can make in our daily lives to experience enhanced individual and relational well-being.

References

Pileggi Pawelski, S & Pawelski, J. (2018). Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts. New York: TarcherPerigee.

Prochaska, J. O., Norcross, J.C., & DiClemnte, C. C. (1994). A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward. New York: William Morrow.