Thursday, February 05, 2009

The Art of Asking Questions:

Since it's the month of Valentine's Day, now is a good time to focus on making life special for our spouses. Children, parents, and dear friends could also use a little tender thoughtfulness to brighten their days.

Asking questions and listening well are two small ways that we can make this month extra special for our loved ones. If we make it a lifetime habit, we will be able to keep the spark of friendship alive in all of our relationships. It will also go a long way toward keeping the glow of romance in our marriages.

In the beginning of any relationship, particularly when we are drawn to that special someone we later marry, we make eager efforts to get to know a person. We ask thoughtful questions, and we listen raptly. Even if the other person has passions in life that we know little about, we want to hear more.

Such attention is endearing and draws two hearts closer together. Don't we all respond to someone who genuinely takes an interest in us? Sometimes, we will think that a person is charming or a fabulous conversationalist, when what they really are is simply someone who knows how to draw us our in conversation and how to listen. This ability is both an art and something that we can master if we put our minds to it.

In the dailiness of life, we sometimes take our parents, our children, and our spouses for granted. We chat about things; we show an interest in some current family event; but, we cease to put our heart into knowing our loved ones on a deeper level. We can become more interested in airing what's on our hearts and minds, rather than tuning in to the other person.

We also make the mistake of thinking that we can coast along on the knowledge we already have of someone. Yet, we are all moving forward in life, and our loved ones are maturing, going through new experiences, and changing. In order to keep that tender bond of the heart current, it's good to ask some insightful questions once in a while.

Now, we don't want to pepper our loved ones with questions so that they feel interrogated. We also need to watch for the right moment to bring up certain topic. Moreover, we need to be prepared to share from our heart, as well, so that the conversation does not become too one-sided.

There are exceptions to every rule, but, generally, women are more relationship oriented than men. Thus, women are often more talented in and more interested in conversation, as well. If an outgoing woman is married to a very quiet or private man, she may become frustrated because he does not talk to her. This may be something that he needs to work on in order to love his wife more fully. Often, however, the woman can draw a quiet man out of his shell with the art of asking and listening.

This is particularly true if the wife generally fills the conversational vacuum by doing all of the talking, herself. Some quiet men really do enjoy it when the wife is bright and chatty, and they love to hear their wives talk. Others, however, feel bowled over in conversation and withdraw even further. If you do talk a lot, you might experiment with sitting quietly by your husband, slowing down your own talk, and waiting patiently for him to express himself -- even if that results in some halting silences.

Whether your husband is quiet or not, here are some interesting questions to ask him. These questions may spur ideas of your own. A nice Valentine's exercise would be to pick one question a week to ask your husband and really listen to him, without rushing in to correct him or to state your opinion. Your goal is not only to help him express himself, but for you to grow in your intimate knowledge of him. You want to see him with fresh eyes. Again, unless your husband is comfortable talking deeply and you are in the habit of doing so, don't bombard him with deep questions. Just make a note to learn something new about him once a week or once a month.

1) What have you been learning about God lately? (From Focus on the Family)
2) How do you see God working in our lives as a couple? What do you see us doing in five years?
3) Is there anything you would like me to pray for you?
4) What was the happiest thing that happened to you today? What was the toughest thing that happened to you today? (This is also a good question to ask your children.)
5) What gives you joy in your life right now? (From the "Love Dare")
6) What is the toughest thing in your life right now? (From the "Love Dare")
7) What are three things you'd like to do before this year passes? (From the "Love Dare")
8) What are some of your favorite memories when you think about the intimate times we've had together? (You might save this one for the bedroom.)
9) What do you love most about God? Why are you following Jesus?
10) What was your childhood picture of God, or did you have one? How has that changed over the years?
11) What do you think about _____ ?(topic of current news or political interest).
12) What do you enjoy most about ______? (job, hobby, or sport.)
13) How is work going? If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be? How is that project that you've been telling me about coming along?
14) If we could take a vacation anywhere in the world -- with money being no object -- where would you like to go?
15) Is there someplace special you'd like to visit sometime in our lifetime? What will it take to get there?

You probably already know your husband's most cherished interests. Some of them may seem boring to you. However, you probably also like to talk about things that seem boring to him. Show an interest in his interests, and he'll likely show an interest in yours. Ask him questions about sports, for example, even if you don't care for watching sports yourself. Even if he doesn't return the favor by asking you about your love of antique lace, you can rejoice that you have been able to make him feel loved and respected by listening to him.


No comments: