Pick a time once a week for the two of you to review your relationship. Make sure there are no distractions and you can fully focus on your partner. Take turns going first each week asking each other the 4 questions below - in order! You can go first and ask your partner the questions. You just listen. Don’t say anything other than asking the questions. Then your partner asks you these 4 questions and gives you full attention while you answer. No interruptions. No discussion during the questions. Just full attention and fully listening and hearing your partner. It’s not an argument nor a debate. It’s not about who’s right or wrong. If one person wins and the other loses, you’ve both lost. It’s about empathy, listening, being vulnerable, and building your relationship. You’re a team, remember?
These questions should mainly be about your relationship although other issues may arise such as, “I’m afraid of my mother having surgery this week.” Don’t go too astray though, as this special time is for the two of you to communicate better and grow closer.
Further calm discussion is encouraged after you both ask and answer the questions. Yes, you may apologize for hurting your partner’s feelings.
1. What are you MAD about?
This is the time to clear the air and get things off your chest. Maybe during the week you were angry with your partner, but didn’t want to say anything or make it “a big deal.” This weekly exercise helps prevent anger from building up and exploding. It allows you to share what’s really going on with you. Share the little stuff. It matters.
2. What are you SAD about?
Maybe your partner hurt your feelings during the week and you felt shut down and disconnected. You didn’t feel comfortable saying something in the moment, but it has been on your mind all week. This is your opportunity to share your feelings. Be vulnerable. It will strengthen your relationship.
3. What are you AFRAID of?
This is the time to tell your partner things that you’re afraid of. Maybe you’re afraid to tell them that you’re afraid of their angry outbursts and you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around them. Be brave. Say what’s really on your mind and heart. This is not a discussion nor time for them to get defensive. It’s time for them to listen to your feelings and for you to be courageous and share your feelings (and vice versa, of course).
4. What are you GLAD about?
Always end on this question and mention things you’re happy about and grateful for in your relationship. What are some things that went well this week? What do you appreciate about your partner? Tell them! Can’t think of anything? Thank them for taking the time to work on your relationship with you and ask these questions. Thank them for sharing and listening.