Asking these two questions will help your relationships thrive

Bickering over who washes up or arguing over the latest Game of Thrones twist doesn't really count as meaningful conversation.

Any therapist worth their salt will tell you that communication is a vital part of good relationships.

Dialogue is to intimacy what Manolo Blahnik is to Carrie Bradshaw; a vital life force that sustains and nourishes at every turn.

But bickering over who washes up or arguing over the latest Game of Thrones twist doesn’t really count as meaningful conversation.

Sure, it’s talking – and that’s always important – but it doesn’t get to the meat of what makes your relationship tick; whether with a friend, a lover or a sibling.

New York-based psychotherapist Ken Page says that to enrich a particular relationship, we should focus on two questions:

  1. Which interactions in this relationship inspire me most?

  2. Which interactions in this relationship hurt me the most?

By zooming in on inspiration and hurt, we isolate powerful influences that reflect what we care about the most.

“The questions are obvious, but our ability to discount and dishonour our responses to them is nothing short of breath-taking,” Page tells Your Tango.

“If you wish to create a truly useful ‘users manual’ for the relationship you’re focusing on, you must become increasingly familiar with the answers to these two questions, both for yourself and for your loved one,” he adds.

“These tender parts of ourselves are highly active in our closest relationships. I call them Core Gifts, and they are like our fingerprints. At first glance, they look similar to everyone else’s, but upon closer reflection, they are completely unique.”

Page recommends going over your experiences in any given close relationship and creating a bullet list of things – large and small – that cause you pain or inspiration.

We tend to minimise both feelings, he says, so by drawing them out, we realise our personal truths – what is most important to us – and learn how to honour them better within the context of a specific relationship.

Once you’ve built and reflected upon your own list, says Page, you should undergo the same process for your loved one, by putting yourself in their shoes.

“In all relationships, there are few greater keys to closeness than having these parts of ourselves seen and honoured,” says Page.

“The more you do this exercise, the deeper your own self-love will become, and the deeper and more loving your relationships will be.”

This story first appeared on Grazia Daily

Related stories