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Is This Relationship Right? 10 Relationship Questions to Help You Decide “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

These are just suggested questions based on research about relationship quality. Matters of the heart are complicated.

1. When we are argue, do either of us express contempt?

Contempt is basically the biggest predictor of divorce for married couples.

The definition of contempt (in relationships science) is that goes beyond other forms of criticism. It involves hostility. Examples of contempt include: Phrases like “You’re nuts.” Nonverbal behaviors like rolling eyes, sneering. Putdowns, insults, name calling, yelling and screaming, mocking, sarcasm, ridiculing, and hurtful teasing.

2. Do we have a ratio of at least 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative interaction? If not, could we work towards this ratio?

When relationships go bad, it is typically the positive interactions that decrease first, and then the negative interactions increase. Happy couples typically have a ratio of at least 5:1 positive interactions to negative interactions. Couples who are about to divorce have a ratio more like 1:1.

You can restore a 5:1 ratio if you’re committed to working at your relationship and your relationship has other strengths. If you’d like to try increasing the positive interactions in your relationship in an easy way, try this fun way of boosting positive interactions.

3. Does your partner support you when things go right for you?

Research has shown that support when things go right (e.g., when your partner has successes) is at least as predictive of relationship quality as support for things that go wrong.

4. Can we repair our positive bond after arguments and tension?

In a lot of cases this will be just reaching out for connection in some way, such as acknowledging your partner’s valid points or using humor.

After particularly destructive arguments, can you “claim your own moves” that contributed to your “dance of disconnection?”

For example, Partner 1 gets overwhelmed and tries to escape during an argument by going to another room, Partner 2 chases Partner 1 to the other room, and Partner 1 attacks and gets nasty.

The categories involved in the dance of disconnection are:

- Pursuing or demanding behavior
- Attacking (Contempt or criticism, which includes using phrases like “You always” “You never” “You should,” and attacking your partner’s personality).
- Withdrawing (including stonewalling, refusing to engage, and defensiveness)

Lots more info Demand – Pursue – Attack – Withdraw

5. Do I have a positive global view of my partner as a person, even if some things annoy me?

For example, I think they’re generally reliable, trustworthy, supportive, considerate, kind etc, even though there are some things they do that are not consistent with this.

6. Is my partner emotionally withdrawn?

Do I feel lonely or shut out in the relationship? Can I connect emotionally? Does s/he express their deepest emotions and allow me to get close?

7. Is my partner emotionally responsive to me?

When I signal that I need connection, does my partner respond or does s/he ignore me? Do I know that I’m important to my partner?

Can I take emotional risks with my partner? Can I open up about my feelings, anxieties etc and trust that my partner will care about my feelings, even if they don’t always get the response right?

8. Can I live with our “gridlock problems?”

Even in happy relationships, 70% of problems are gridlock problems that never get solved. To be happy, couples need to figure out how to be happy while these problems still exist. Some degree of compromise can be achieved, but the research shows that there usually needs to be a degree of acceptance and tolerance as well.

Can you and your partner compromise on the big stuff if necessary – like where to live and how many children to have?

9. Does my partner allow me to influence him/her, and vice versa?

Does my partner sometimes change his/her perspective because of my influence? For example, changes his/her thoughts based on a point I make, or is willing to try things I suggest. Or, you explore some of each other’s interests/hobbies/tastes and preferences.

Do I let my partner influence me? Do I sometimes change my perspective because of his/her influence?

Allowing influence shows you respect each other’s opinions and have psychological flexibility.

10. Does my partner do things that undermine my fundamental physical or emotional security?

e.g., Violence, repeated cheating, spending money in a way that jeopardizes our security.

Also includes some of the specific things already mentioned, such as being emotionally withdrawn or unsupportive.

What If My Answers Were Negative?
How to Work on Your Relationship

If your answers to 3 or more questions were negative and you would like to try increasing the positive interactions in your relationship in an easy way, try this fun way of boosting positive interactions.

Couples Therapy

You can turn around problems through couples therapy, if you’re motivated to do that. Choose a couples therapist who is familiar with the research on which types of couples therapy work best. I recommend Emotion Focused Therapy, which has been shown to help even very unhappy couples. Try this if you have lots of negative answers to the above questions but you both want to work on your relationship. There are also other good couples therapies like Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy (IBCT).

In the meantime, I challenge you try to boosting your positive interactions in 30 seconds a day.

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10 Fascinating Questions About You To Ask Your Mom (For Adults)

Forward the link for this post to your Mom and ask her to answer.

People tend to have more positive and stable close relationships when they know detailed answers to the kinds of questions below.

1. Tell me the story of my delivery? What time of day was I born etc?

2. Do you remember when you found out you were pregnant? Who did you tell first?

3. Do you remember any details like my first word or when you first felt me kick?

4. Do you remember any nicknames I had as a kid that I might have forgotten?

5. Did I ever get lost as a child? Where? What did you do?

6. Did I have any separation anxiety as a kid? Like when I went to school?

7. What were my passions when I was a child? Things I might not remember?

8. What were some of the times you were most proud of me when I was a child?

9. What kinds of parenting advice of the day/times influenced your parenting?

10. For people who have older siblings: How did my siblings react to me when I was born?
For people who have younger siblings: How did I react to the birth of my siblings?
For people who have no siblings, you get to take this question off :)

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11 Dating Questions to Ask Before You Commit

1. Do you ever have a hard time accepting No when you want something?

Rationale: Is s/he entitled, disrespectful or needy?

2. If you weren’t doing the job you’re doing now, what would you like to do?

Rationale: Does s/he have any big plans for dramatic life changes you don’t know about?

3. Do you ever lose control of your actions?

Rationale: Is s/he erratic, dysregulated or impulsive-in-a-bad-way?

4. Do you feel confident about your ability to solve everyday problems that come up?

Rationale: Is the person excessively dependent, needy, or incompetent, or does s/he perceive themselves that way?

5. Do you have a hard time trusting people?

Rationale: Does the person have a hostility bias? i.e., they think others are attacking them when in fact they are not.

6. Do you ever have a sense of being a failure as a person?

Rationale: Does s/he have low self-esteem?

7. How well do you get on with your Mom and Dad? Did your parents meet your emotional needs?

Rationale: Attachment style shows a degree of continuity from childhood to adulthood. If someone was securely attached to their primary caregiver, they’re more likely to have a secure attachment style now (i.e., they’re not too needy or too distant).

8. What are some examples of when you’ve persisted and succeeded at a long term goal?

Rationale: Does s/he have grit (which is important for success)? Can s/he delay gratification?

9. Is your pot smoking/binge drinking just a being young thing for you or can you imagine wanting to do it your whole life?

Rationale: Hopefully obvious!

10. Are you able to admit when you’ve made a mistake or when your own actions might’ve contributed to a problem?

Rationale: When you fight, is s/he going to fight nice? Is s/he going to be good at repairing your bond after you’ve had an argument?

11. Do you know when you’re feeling hurt, lonely, sad, ashamed/embarrassed etc?

Rationale: Does the person have emotional self-awareness? Without emotional self-awareness, people can’t easily communicate when they need caring, and that tends to cause problems in relationships.

Feeling pretty happy with the answers? To make an awesome relationship even better, you might like to try this fun love project for couples.

Note: Of course there are other important dating questions related to finances, children etc but I wanted to make a list of psychology-related dating questions.

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10 Effortless Stress Relief Techniques

Effortless stress relief techniques for busy people.

1. Accept offers of help.

For example, if you’re catering a big event, ask your children to help you. Recruit help if necessary.

2. Treat yourself like you’d treat your best friend.

If you’re harassed and harangued, or having self-critical or self-doubt thoughts, recognize that you’re having a moment of suffering, that suffering is part of life, and give yourself all the kindness you need. Be tolerant and accepting of your flaws and inadequacies.

3. Do five minutes of stress relieving green exercise.

Research has shown that five minutes of green exercise boosts mood and self esteem better than longer amounts of time (not in terms of average boost per minute, but actual total benefit).

Green exercise just means near trees etc. Green and blue exercise (near water) is even better for stress relief than plain green exercise.

4. Do the corpse pose.

Corpse pose.

You can also do Child’s Pose.

5. Daydream. Spend some time not focusing.

If you’ve been working hard on something and you’ve lost the “feeling of knowing” (the feeling that you’re going to solve the problem and that you’re heading in the right direction), then you’re more likely to have an epiphany, or at least clearer thoughts, if you do something relaxing that stimulates alpha waves than if you keep trying to focus.

Daily downtime (letting your mind drift and not requiring concentration of yourself) is important for neural integration.

How creativity works.

6. Stress busting slow breathing.

Do three sets of four slow breaths. You can take your heart rate at the beginning and then again at the end. If your heart rate is high you are in fight/flight response mode. Slow breathing will bring your heart rate down and you’ll feel much better. You can take your heart rate using your iphone and watch it decrease as you breath slowly. Your heart rate will increase a bit on in-breaths compared to out-breaths so don’t worry about that.

7. Get a Long Hug

Long hugs stimulate oxytocin and serotonin and are great for stress relief. You can even hug yourself and get a similar stress relief effect.

8. Take a Humor Break.

Browse funny cartoons. Find a joke you like and tell it to a couple of people (confidently).

9. Do one thing mindfully.

Do something you would normally rush through mindfully instead e.g., your shower. Pay attention to what your body feels like doing the activity and let other sensory info rise up into your awareness from your external senses as you do the activity.

10. Do a half smile, it’ll boost your mood.

Faking a full smile won’t boost your mood because it uses different muscles than a genuine smile. A fake half smile uses the same muscles as a genuine smile. Your face will give your brain the message you’re happy. Try it :)

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10 Relationship Questions to Better Understand Your Partner

These relationship questions will help you better understand

- why they do what they do
- why they get angry
- how to talk to them
- how to please them

1. When you get home from work and your willpower has been drained by making decisions all day, what do you most need? (or an equivalent question based on your personal circumstances)

2. If we need to talk about something difficult, when in the week is the best time to do it?

3. When you want to get my attention and you don’t think I’m listening, what do you do?

4. Do you know that you’re important to me? What can I do that helps you feel like you’re important to me?

5. Are there any times you feel lonely, left out or like I’m not reachable emotionally?

6. How should I know when you need a long hug? What are the signs?

7. When you get angry, are you feeling anything underneath the anger, even if the anger is the strongest emotion? (Multi-choice: Shame/Embarrassment/Guilt, Anxiety/Worry, Lonely, Sad, Exhausted)

8. What ways do you like to repair our bond after we’ve had an argument?

9. What are your favorite ways to have fun as a couple? (Small things as well as activities)

10. When I want to please you, what should I do that I will find easy?

To get a little bit more love in your life, check out my love project for couples Boost your love in 30 Seconds a Day (Fun and EXTREMELY easy but based on relationships science).

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