How to Make a Relationship Stronger with One Question

Often we go throughout our day without much conscious thought or action. Maybe you get so caught up in the stresses of life it feels like you’re constantly putting out fires. It seems like you have no choice but to react to the next crisis coming your way.


In relationships it’s easy to get stuck in problem solving mode. It’s easy to become an expert detective looking for problems with your relationship and with your partner.


Sometimes it seems like your whole day is taken up with these problems. For some of us, we are consumed by solving these problems for days, weeks or even years at a time.


What Makes Relationship so Difficult

With couples, often one or both people are completely focused on or emotionally consumed by things that are out of their control. We don’t think there is anything sadder than someone who is depressed or anxious over something he or she has no control over.
In a relationship, anytime you focus on what your partner should or shouldn’t be doing, you’re focusing on something that is out of your control.


Why is it so hard to have a successful and fulfilling relationship?


Because you have to do what goes against your very nature to have a great relationship. Nobody wants to look at themselves when they have relationship problems. That’s why few people have lasting relationships.


It is counter-intuitive to think “we’re having problems right now, what do I need to focus on or do differently”. But that’s exactly what will lead to massive positive changes in your relationship.


The easiest way to strengthen your relationship is to put all of your efforts into things you can control. To do anything else is destructive to your relationship and a massive waste of your energy.


You have a limited amount of attention and energy each day, so if you’re wasting it on things out of your control, you won’t have any left for doing the things that could actually help.


You can make drastic changes in your relationship by focusing on taking small steps in the right direction. These small steps have a cumulative effect, often producing astounding positive results in people’s relationships.


The key is to bring awareness to what YOU can focus on or do differently today that will improve yourself or your relationship.


If you’re consistently focusing on something that is out of your control, start focusing on something that is in your control. Many of us focus on problems in our past or on potential future problems. Instead, try focusing on what’s working right now, what’s worked in the past and what you want the future to look like. That is one way how to make a relationship stronger.


Do you frequently tell your partner he or she needs to change something? Instead, focus on what you can control. Try changing your reactions to your partner’s undesirable behavior or how you approach him or her about it. Maybe you could ignore it, or offer praise when your partner doesn’t do it.


There are many different things you could do, but the focus is on changing what you do.


The Power of Questions


What we need is something to snap us out of our problem solving detective mode. We need something to shake us up and bring awareness to what we’re focusing on.


People in successful relationships ask better questions of themselves!


One of the best ways I’ve found to snap out of a reactive mode or bad mood is by asking myself specific questions. Questions are a great way to direct your focus and thoughts. Questions bring consciousness to whatever your asking, whether you like it or not.


In fact, if you consistently ask yourself specific, empowering questions you will find it difficult to not improve your relationship.


Here are some of the questions I ask myself daily to make better decisions.

While at work:

Am I being productive or just busy?

When buying something:

Do I really value or need this?

In my relationship:

Is what I’m focusing on or doing, in or out of my control?

When trying to decide what I need to accomplish for the day:

Will this move me considerably closer to my meaningful goals?

When playing sports:

When have I succeeded in a similar situation in the past and what did I do?


These types of questions snap you out of your current state and into a state where you’re able to consciously make decisions that are in your relationships best interest. Otherwise, you’re unconsciously making decisions all day that may or may not be good for your relationship.


How to Make a Relationship Stronger with One Question


As often as you can during the day, ask yourself “Is what I’m focusing on or doing right now, in or out of my control?”


This should help you to be aware of what you’re spending your precious attention and energy on throughout the day. It enables you to make better decisions and move your relationship in the right direction.


If you find out your focusing on or doing something that is out of your control ask yourself


“What’s the smallest thing I can focus on or do right now, that’s in my control, and moves me closer to my meaningful goals for this relationship?”


Action Step


For the next week ask yourself once each day at 3pm.

“Is what I’m focusing on or doing right now, in or out of my control?”

Just test it out for one week. Try to prove me wrong, so you can write me that it didn’t help at all. If you find it helpful, start asking it a couple times a day or even every couple of hours.


Say Yes to Love,

Dr. Michael Arn & Dr. Ashley Arn