Shirley squirmed in her chair and leaned forward, giving me a hard, exhausted look.
They’ve been here before. It was Deja Vu all over again… Groundhog Day.
But now they were in couples therapy with me.
They needed a way out. Fast.
“Ok, Daniel. This is how Mike and I do Groundhog Day.
I usually say… this. He typically says… that.
Then I just know he’s gonna give me that look. And I just know I’ll get really agitated.. like I always do.
And then he says “you’re not really listening.” I tell him I am…. but we both know I’m lying.
Then I know I’m gonna say X, and then I just know Mike’s gonna say Y, and by then…
It’s ANOTHER FIGHT NIGHT!”
That’s the thing about ineffective marital communication.
It’s just like Groundhog Day. It’s the same thing over and over and over…
So here’s a gift for you from Couples Therapy Inc. this Groundhog Day.
The next time you’re only pretending to listen to your partner, ask yourself this very important question:
“Do I Really Want Another Groundhog Day?”
If the answer is NO WAY… Have a Generative Conversation instead.
Here are 43 Questions (and useful variations)You Can Ask While Listening INSTEAD!
43. What else would you like to tell me about this that I haven’t already asked? Do you feel this conversation is helping move this issue forward? What can I do differently to understand your point of view here? Do you feel understood on this? So what I’m hearing you say is ( then summarize using some of the exact words and metaphors they used in speaking with you).
Generative Conversations that employ these questions can gently challenge assumptions, disrupt established reactive structures, interrupt automatic cognitive processes and thought patterns, encourage you to start talking differently, and maybe…even consider behaving differently!
These questions are from science-based Gottman Couples Therapy and the Developmental Model of Couples Therapy.
Remember avoid being defensive. Ask yourself, what can I agree with here?
These are all beautiful questions. I hope these questions help you. Why not try them out? We’ve got lots more too.
But remember, when you ask a new beautiful question…..talk to your partner as if they were someone you loved.
Happy Groundhog Day from Couples Therapy Inc.!
Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.
We schedule three double sessions with you in total. You complete an extensive online relationship questionnaire. In that final meeting, we spend almost two hours with you explaining, from a science perspective what's working in your relationship, what's not, and how to fix it.
It's all done online, either week-by-week or over a weekend.