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4 questions for a healthy and strong relationship in (corona-) crisis

Liz Zeeman

In (corona-) crisis with your partner? 4 questions for a healthy and strong relationship

A good relationship in times of a quarantine. Because of the corona crisis a lot of couples are on top of each other all of a sudden 24/7. Then you get to know each other in a whole new way. How does your partner respond to uncertainty? How do you divide household chores? And while you’re juggling kids, cooking, groceries, cleaning, laundry, and two full-time jobs, can you still succeed to have attention for each other?

It turns out that having a good relationship is not that obvious. Even more so, assuming that it is obvious can become a danger to a good relationship. Luckily you can do something about it. Curious what that is? In this blog I will share 4 questions that contribute to a strong and healthy relationship.

4 questions to ask your partner:

Question 1: What recent experience or event was a learning moment?

Question 2: In what kind of joint activity would you like to take part in the near future?

Question 3: If you didn't have to take anyone in consideration, what would you do this month?

Question 4: What habit do you want to improve with me in the time to come?

The days fly by

Work, family, possibly children, the household, and keeping up with (social) media takes up about all your time. 

If you work, you try to perform well, you do your best to organize your household and caregiving responsibilities, and maintaining your social contacts means a lot to you. Maybe you even do an online yoga class, or you have other hobbies, or you dive deeper into subjects on a healthy lifestyle.

On a (occasional) night off you plop yourself on the sofa with a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate, and watch “some” Netflix - which never is just “some”. Your phone is probably within reach so that you can read and answer all notifications and messages right away.

Practical vs. profound

Where is your partner in this scenario? Is he/she next to you on the couch? Every now and then you do something fun together, often with the kids present or with family and friends (at 6 ft distance). Before you know it you are only talking to your partner about the practical things. Your relationship seems fine, but does it really add something? Is it profound enough? Or do you take each other for granted…?

A tune-up

Just like your car needs a tune-up every now and then, so does your relationship. And of course with that I mean is a good conversation 😉Because if you don’t take the time every now and then to talk about the things that matter to the both of you, you can easily start drifting apart.

So, how do we keep our relationship healthy and make sure we don’t drift apart? The foundation is genuine attention for each other.

It starts with a good question!

We have experienced that you can create meaningful conversations in a light and playful way. Ask your partner a good question more often. And of course I don’t mean asking them who will do the groceries this weekend 😉

You can think: we are not the types that have deep conversations for hours on end. That is fine, everybody is different. That’s why asking each other a question in a playful way every once in a while can not only make your relationship survive, but also become stronger!

You can start with the four good questions listed below. Ask them while taking a stroll, when you’re in the car together, or when you sit down for a drink. Sometimes the dialogue starts naturally and sometimes you have to help it along “Oh, tell me more”. One tip: put your cell phone away!

Question 1: What recent experience or event was a learning moment?

A relationship where everything always runs smooth doesn’t exist I think… In every relationship you have disagreements and quarrels. That comes with the territory. How you respond to them is different for everybody though. 

You can also view disagreements as an opportunity. An opportunity to understand each other better, to make your bond stronger. In the heat of the moment it can be difficult to see it that way. 

That’s why looking back at a situation can be very insightful. Don’t try to avoid these conversations but try to understand your partner in that moment. What could you do differently next time? What are your expectations of each other? In other words, “What have you learned from it?”, is a powerful question to ask yourselves from time to time.

Question 2: In what kind of joint activity would you like to take part in the near future?

When the butterflies have disappeared and ordinary life with all it’s commitments and caregiving tasks takes over, focus on your partner can diminish. In dealing with the daily grind, you tend to live next to each other instead of with each other, and the strong sense of togetherness that you felt in the beginning can subside.

You can revive these feelings! Doing things together - especially new things - can bring you closer together. This has an affect on our hormones. Dopamine and oxytocin are 2 hormones that enhance the feeling of togetherness.  Oxytocin is released when we cuddle or kiss our partner, and with an orgasm. Dopamine is released for instance when you do fun, new, and exciting things together.

There are lots of ways to discover new things together, and often it doesn’t even require you to leave the house. When are you going to make some more dopamine and other hormones? Fun and important!

Question 3: If you didn't have to take anyone in consideration, what would you do this month?

This seems like a weird question, because you DO have people around you to take into consideration. Still the question works well because it makes you think outside the box and it takes away obstacles. It is good to think about and to name the things you want to get out of life. What are your deepest wishes? It is also very important to share these dreams with your partner, because they (un)consciously have a big influence on your relationship.

And it doesn’t have to end with a dream. Who knows those dreams are a lot more achievable than you thought. Moving to the South of France next month is a little far-fetched, but we seem to desire the small daily things anyways.

A little while ago we asked our Vertellis community the same question and we received a lot of responses like “showering 10 minutes longer”, or “reading a book”, and “eating a meal together at the dinner table”. By talking about this you know what’s important to the other person and you can think about how you can (partly) fulfill the wishes of your partner. We tend to say something is “impossible”, so try to mostly think in possibilities!

Question 4:  What habit do you want to improve with me in the time to come?

In a relationship you build your habits and routines together. That happens naturally. Think about things like the time you usually get up, eat, and go to sleep. Also what you eat daily and who does the laundry are part of those routines. It’s wise to stop and think about them every once in a while. Habits creep up on you, while maybe you are not happy about some of them.

It is helpful to be conscious of your joint habits and express possible discontent. Maybe you’ll decide to “get to work” on one of the habits. This is easier when you support each other or if you start the change together. Trying to eat healthier is going to be tough when one of you is still eating chips or chocolate while watching your favorite show 😉

Did you like these questions and found them to be inspiring?

The fact that you read this article until the end probably means you want to get started with them. Great! But...you know just as well as I do that resolutions quickly fade.

To fix this and to work on your relationship in a fun and simple way, we (Bart, Lars & Liz) have combined these “habits and secrets” for a strong relationship in a game: the Vertellis Relationship edition.

This edition was created in cooperation with 150 professionals, like relationship therapists and marriage counselors, and it serves one purpose: asking each other the right questions.

Pour yourself a drink, take time for each other, put your cellphone aside, and turn your relationship into a GREAT relationship.

Do you have wonderful experiences or do you have good questions, share them in the comment section, or share this with someone who is also intrigued by this topic😄

Click here for more information about the Vertellis Relationship edition!

Let’s inspire!

Love,

Liz


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