The post on marriage was originally published on the Good Men Project.
I was a kiss ass in school. Anything less than an A left me lingering at the elbow of the teacher wondering what I could do better. I wasn’t a sporty sort, so my version of a trophy came in the form of triplicate tri-fold carried with pride to present to my parents. Whether you loved your reports cards or loathed them, whether being coached catalyzed you or made you cringe I bet most of that regular feedback ended with your diploma.
Some of us use scientific principles of recording and reporting to effect change in our daily life. We keep budgets and count calories, we track our runs and share them on social media. Karl Pearson tells us that ”that which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.”
Yet, few people apply these methods to our marriages.
Quantifying something as organic as a relationship is not in our regular repertoire. Recent research suggests that it should be. No less of a relationship resource than the Wall Street Journal confirms the benefit marriages performance reviews.
Because I am almost as much of a data geek as a Wall Street Journal writer, I wanted to try to track the ups and downs of our marriage. Because my husband accepts my inner nerd he threw his number 2 pencil into the ring with mine. I started by printing the progress report attached to the WSJ article. The multi part sheet didn’t seem broad enough to measure all areas of our relationship so I flipped over my page to add on open ended questions. I love an essay. I wanted to create a space for individual ratings so we could benefit from Pearson’s law. I created an emoticon rating system tied to numerical values. I love a graph.
As I reached for a second sheet of paper with a cramped hand, I glanced across the table at my husband. He had the tip of his tongue between his teeth, showing me the care and concentration he was taking with his task. He had written a single line. It read:
When did we feel like a team this week?
Suddenly my graphs and essays seemed superfluous. I pushed my paper aside and leaned towards him. His single sentence reminded me that making the individual grade was not our goal. I was finally part of a team sport. We had found a way to measure our relationship that was more natural than a strict quantification, but just as useful for us.
Whether you follow a strict format of measuring and reporting like Pearson, or develop a single touchpoint, any time you spend working at your partnership will bring positive change.
His simple question led us into a complicated conversation. We talked about our parenting, our physical relationship and the times we felt lonely. He reminded me of the power of my touch and I thanked him for the act of bringing me iced water each night in bed.
We realized that since Steve moved his office home we had stopped kissing each other goodbye as we headed to opposite ends of the house for work. That was something we could easily change. Finally we finished our assessment. Except we hadn’t. As we moved from the table to the couch he draped his arm around my shoulder and pulled me in for a kiss. “Now.” He said. “Right now is when we most felt like a team this week.”
– See more at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/the-one-question-you-need-to-ask-to-keep-your-marriage-on-track-hlg/#sthash.oXur2pHk.dpuf
15 thoughts on “The single question to ask to keep your marriage strong”
That’s a great idea!! Mind if I borrow it?
Please! That’s why we post…
that was lovely – and he was spot on!
As he so often is…
Sweet…so simple, and oh-so right! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for reading. Sweet and simple (in the best way) is how I would describe Steve.
This is so beautiful. I have a couple crush on you two! <3
Steve is TOTALLY worthy of that.
Beautiful! The simple, powerful question. Thanks for sharing.
I can thank Steve for that. I would have written a 60 pt list.
This is great. I love how you brought in how many other things we keep track of and assess, while our most important relationship can be sadly ignored. The analogy of being a team is right on.
Thanks. I think it goes beyond an analogy…at our best we are a team.
What a great question. I just asked it of my husband and boy did it lead to a wild and wonderful discussion. Being partners is what we wanted from our marriage and it can fade with time.
I’m so glad to hear that it sparked a conversation.