Emotional Wellness is often overlooked as our culture discusses the physical aspects of wellness to no end. Yet one of the clearest findings to emerge from research is we are social beings and we thrive when we feel safe, supported and connected to others. Simply put, sharing our feelings, feeling understood and heard makes us happier and healthier people. Close relationships with healthy communication are critical to our emotional and mental wellbeing. “The Three Questions” are a simple tool that helps us foster deep connection and allows us to share our most intimate feelings in a safe and loving space.
The Three Questions: A Simple Tool for Deep Connection & Heartfelt Communication
We have all had that feeling in the pit of our stomach, when dreading a difficult, yet inevitable conversation. It can feel overwhelming to discuss challenges with a loved one, and yet it is a critical component of healthy relationships. We try our best to be good communicators, but what does that really mean? It can be hard to listen with compassion and to share open heartedly. A conversation gone wrong can hurt a relationship; on the other hand, when we feel heard and safe to share, deep intimacy is created. When a conversation creates this deep connection, even the most difficult subject can lend itself to a beautiful and loving experience.
This tool, called “The Three Questions” is incredibly simple and equally profound and effective. It was shared with me many years ago by an older married couple, who have been gifting it to all newly weds for many years. It is one of the best tools my husband and I have in our relationship, and it is also great to use with friends and family. I use it when needing to discuss something difficult, or simply when I want to experience deep, loving connection and heartfelt sharing. I have personally experienced the miracles it creates on myself and others who I have shared it with. Here is how it goes:
●With your partner, decide on a time you would like to do “The Three Questions”. One half hour minimum is recommended.
●Sit facing each other with a time piece.
●Take turns being the one who asks (Person “A”) and the one who answers (Person “B”). Each turn takes 5 minutes. You may have the three questions written on a piece of paper next to you if you like.
The Three Questions:
Tell me something you think we agree on.
Tell me something you like about me.
Tell me something you want me to know.
•Person “A” asks the first question, “Tell me something you think we agree on”. Person “B” answers one or several things, however much or little they want. Whenever “B” is done, “B” says, “I am done”. Person “A” says, “thank you” and asks the second question, then the third. Person “B” always says “I am done” when they are done answering, and person “A” always says “thank you”.
- •You ask and answer all three questions until the timer goes off. You may finish your thought if it went off before you were done. If it has not gone off and you have completed all three questions, start with the first one again, until your 5 minutes are up. Then “Person A” and “Person B” switch, and the one who asked now answers. Switch back and forth for a minimum of 30 minutes total (three turns each).
- •No matter which question you end on when your turn is completed, you always begin each five minute turn with the first question, “Tell me something you think we agree on.”
- •The questioner may NOT interrupt or say anything at any time except the actual question, “Time is up”, in case your partner didn’t hear the timer go off, “Thank you,” or “Please clarify” if you do not understand the response. No facial expressions of dissatisfaction are permitted (like rolling eyeballs, shaking your head when you disagree with what the person is saying, etc.) It is advised that you maintain eye contact as much as possible.
If you follow the rules, this technique can truly produce magic. The first question is designed to draw your attention to the common ground. The second to open your hearts, the third, to create a safe space to say the hard things that are true for you, and for you to listen to the hard things that your partner needs you to hear. This technique offers perspective, balance, and a true safety net. Best of all, it can save you thousands of dollars in marriage counseling. So, the next time you find yourself in a shouting match or not able to figure out how to talk about something difficult, remember “The Three Questions”. It can be a way to get to the bottom of an issue, a way to reveal yourself to your partner (and sometimes to yourself as well), and a way to a profound intimacy that can only deepen as the years go by.
If your intention is to honestly communicate with your partner this method will work. If however, your real intention is to withhold intimacy this technique is not fool-proof and can be sabotaged.
Have you used this communication technique or another? Leave a comment — we would love to hear from you!
Written By, AHWD Wellness Expert – Marysia Miernowska