When you are involved in a long term relationship, there are a few questions that your spouse should learn to STOP asking you. I believe that in order to learn and grow with your spouse or partner, you need to build capacity with each other, and learn about the other’s emotional triggers. You must try and seek a deeper understanding of one another, in order to reach an intimate, trusting level so that you can build a future together in an open, honest manner.
Questions from my partner that make me question our relationship:
Are you still grumpy?
This question makes me crazy for a multitude of reasons. First of all, “grumpy” doesn’t encompass any emotions. Grumpy is one of the 7 Dwarfs. Grumpy, means that I am just feeling sulky or bad tempered. I AM NONE OF THESE THINGS.
Frustrated? Maybe..or how about annoyed with something you said? Or maybe, I am feeling sad about something that happened during the day that has put me in a melancholy mood and I haven’t found the words to talk to you about it. Putting ALL of my emotions under this umbrella you call “Grumpy” is telling me that I am unworthy of having other emotions.
Solution: How about asking me what’s on my mind? Or, you could simply slip an arm around me and tell me that you can see that something is troubling me. It may not even be about you. Maybe it is sadness or regret for something I have done. Labeling it with one word, without drilling down to find out what the issue is, tells me that you actually don’t CARE and that you are not here for me.
Taking time for me and working with me as the other half of our team to figure out why I am down in the dumps, or acting upset, is so much more valuable to US than you determining that I am under your umbrella. Speaking with words about feelings and emotions (sad, frustrated, annoyed, alone, irked, troubled) builds a foundation of trust and understanding. I will never assume that you are just grumpy and leave it at that. I need to know how you are feeling, why you feel that way, and what I can do to help you get through these feelings. I want to work with you and move forward as a team of two. I want to make sure that I am more clear of how you feel, for the next time you are down, so that I can be of more help to you.Transparency about how we feel is a huge piece of greater understanding in any relationship.
Did you make plans for supper?
In our days of dating, I always felt giddy when he asked me this question. When I responded with a “No, not yet” or “No, but hopefully we can have something together” I became excited to see him at supper time. That question usually meant he was asking me out for dinner. Maybe it would be take out and a walk, or a nice dinner in a fancy restaurant while we chatted about our days.
Now, that question has an entirely different meaning. This question has now developed into , “What are you making when you get home after work?” That’s the new “meaning” of the question.
Those cutesy date nights have become a thing of the past. I mean, we still go out on “dates” but the invite has become completely different. It has become more like, “We should check this new restaurant out” or “Hey, lets go out for a change”, and that’s just fine. I have no problem with date nights and suppers out once in awhile.
However, when he asks me now, after 8 years of living together, “did you make plans for supper?” his thought process goes something like this:
> What will you be making me?
> Do I have to do anything?
> Should I plan to eat before supper if it’s something I dislike?
> Do I have to take anything out?
> Is she going to ask me to stop at the store on the way home? I have had a long day.
I know this thought pattern, because they are typically the ensuing questions once the first question is asked.
Solution: Plan ahead. Let’s have an open dialogue about what we will have for suppers for the next week, cook them together or prep them together and enjoy the process as we talk about our day. Leave the TV off while we are talking and build on our relationship as we chop vegetables, learn about each other’s skills, likes, dislikes, thoughts and feelings. Or simply change the question, “ What shall we make for supper, did you have anything in mind?” or “I am really craving steak, shall we go out or can I help you make a nice dinner?”
Making the assumption that I will come home and throw together something while you watch TV or have a cigar, or whatever, does not show me that we work as a team. It doesn’t allow growth opportunities for either of us, and in the end, it makes the supper cooker feel taken for granted. Also, if there are no plans set ahead of time, there is pressure to make sure that ONE of us needs to find the solution. Asking me daily if “I” have made plans for supper, triggers the onus on me, even if it’s not the intention. All it takes is a change of wording and an offer to be of assitance. It may not seem like a huge task for some couples, but when you both work full time days with traffic and commutes at the end, the thought of making supper and catering to someone is daunting and unnecesary.
What do you want?
This question sends me over the edge more that I ever let on. There are so many answers I could give, but I force my tongue between my teeth and typically walk away.
What could I answer?
I want world peace. I want no one on our planet to feel hunger. I want a million dollars. I want a life of success and happiness. I want real politicaians who aren’t crooks. I want a world where there is no violence. I want a house with a pool. I want to sleep a full eight, interrupted, hours.
You might want to be a bit more specific.
Often I will walk toward my guy, with my arms stretched out and simply want a hug. In his weird humour, he will stand with his arms at his sides, trying to be funny and ask me “What do you want?” Or if we are out buying groceries, or at the mall, he will ask the same question. There is never really a correct response to such an open ended question. I could suggest a day of shopping, just going to the mall to browse and he will ask that question, sending waves of frustration and angst through my veins. “What do you want?”
Solution: Again, it’s just a matter of changing the vocabulary to something more specific. “Do you have something in mind you want to shop for?” or “What’s with the hug? Did I do something to deserve it or are you having a rough day? Thank you.” Asking me that simple, non-provoking word is a cop out. It’s your way of trying to start a conversation that will ultimately go nowhere. I honestly could respond with further questions like, “What do you mean, what do I want?” or “When you ask me that, what are you referring to?” But I feel like if you REALLY want to know what I want, you would ask the right questions. Further to this, after 9 years together, I would assume that you KNOW what I want, especially when I move in for a hug.
What do you want to do?
Another loaded question. This one doesn’t get my blood boiling like the others, depending on the situation. It still annoys me, however, because again, it is still too open.
I want to travel, and write, and retire. I want to feel healthy, and happy and never get too old to enjoy life…. I have a host of things I want to do.
Or was that what you were even asking?
I need some choices. I need visual stimuli. I need clarification of the question please. Do I a) want to see a movie? b) go for a nice drive in the country? or c) stay home in my pajamas and write all day?
Easy solution: We BOTH come up with ideas of how to spend our time together (or apart). If we have a day of no plans, we can give each other real choices of how to spend those hours that will be quality for both of us. Asking a broad range “what do you want to do?” is overwhelming. There are so many options and choices, that I could literally waste an entire day listing them all. All it takes is an offering of a few ideas that may, or may not, spark my interest. I offer you choices, and you choose from them, or come up with your own. Building that list of ideas that are meaningful can set the mood for the day and can give us BOTH direction and a visualization of what the day ahead looks like. Also, it provides a limitation of our time table for the day, so if we wish to do more than 1 activity, chore or just watch a movie, we know what the expectation of each other may be. We can learn from each other as well. Perhaps you didn’t know I had an interest in, finally, going to a shooting range, or playing mini golf. It broadens our horizons if we can come up with specific ideas to entice each other with. It gives us opportunities to come up with new interests that we can incorporate each other within.
Do you want to fool around?
Again, when we were dating, this was one of those “cutesy cues”. This question would be asked while we were sitting on the sofa, holding hands or flirting with each other from across the room. It would make me smile, secretly knowing how the night together would end. Now, it’s gag worthy.
I am almost 50 years old, and although I get that you are trying to get me into bed and are making an attempt to communicate in a “throw back” manner that you wish to have sex with me, I don’t find it nearly as appealling. I want to be whisked away and cuddled. I want to feel a deep connection with you that will make me want all of you, and all of your attention. I am over the whole “let’s fool around” stage. A quickie once in awhile, I will be on board with, but I feel like we have gone way past the “fool around” stage. Maybe this is just one of my pet peeves, and other women in long relationships may not relate to this, but I need more.
We have seen each other naked thousands of times. We know each other’s bodies intimately and thoroughly. We have seen each other during sickness, sweat sessions after the gym, lazy days of no showers, and frazzled after a long day of work. To me, “fooling around” is something you do when you want to learn about someone intimately, not when you want to go to bed and make love before falling asleep cuddled up to each other. Fooling around sounds like a temporary fix to a horny situation. I would like to believe we have gone past that stage in our love and in our intimacy.
Solution: “I want you, let’s go to bed” or “I feel like having sex, how about you?” Or no words at all, and just allowing our touches and kisses to head in that direction, knowing what each other wants, without having to say anything. To me, that builds on our knowledge and understanding of each other.
Although, every once in awhile, in the right mood, I would say yes to “fooling around”. Just not every single time you have the urge.
Working on new ways to entice each other is so much more exciting and rewarding. Developing new “lines” or prompts to let me know you want me, using phrases you know I like, or that I know you like, creates a whole new intimacy level than the same question, every. single. time. You could even ask me….”What could I say that would start your fire?” or “How about we come up with our own private word to let each other know we are thinking of them?”
Moving past annoyances is a huge part of building capacity in your realtionships. Having crucial conversations and trying to communicate more effectively, will create a further base for growth in love and friendship. Allowing each other to ask questions that dig deep, will promote growth and trust. Making the effort to speak to your mate with your heart and your true thoughts and feelings creates an open and honest mutual dialogue that can spiral into a strong, meaningful relationship and desire to learn and want more. Further to this, knowing your partner on a more intimate level will give you the feeling of worthiness and desirability. It will encourage team building between you and enagement.
Strength based conversations, purposeful daily chatter and plans together will build a solid companionship, equality and respect for one another. It will keep you both from falling into a rut, and will keep your relationship in a momentum that will evoke a vision of a future together.
Don’t cop out with easy questions, dig deep, speak in an open tone, and get to know the person you share your bed and your life with. We, as human beings, have an amazing ability to tap into the vast vocabulary of words that have been created for our use. It’s surprising how the brain and heart is affected, merely by choosing the correct words in our language, along with the appropriate body language. Changing up your dialogue and asking questions that make each other feel worthy and valued is so easy, if you are able to open your horizons and learn how.
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