Over the past 43 years, we’ve had a number of people comment on how they admire our marriage. It always feels a bit awkward to hear and, to be honest, we’re not always sure what they’ve observed. To us, we’re just Beth and David. Because we are, in general, people who are more content than discontent, we seem to have become more grateful rather than resentful over the years of one another’s quirks and differences. (Although recently we both seem a bit edgier with one another due to our concern over our Harper girl.)
But in spite of the fact that we tend to like what we have, or in this case, who we have, we do recognize that we have developed a partnership that has real substance and meaning. There are many factors contributing to this, and many, we know we had nothing to do with. Such as meeting one another when we were 14, knowing one another’s family of origin and sharing similar cultural roots. To add to that, our shared love of music, nature as well as a spiritual awakening that took us down parallel paths. All these were and are elements of our shared life that we had little to do with.
Having said that, however, there are a few things we have leaned into and cultivated over the stages and stretches of our life together. The key ingredient above all others, our "secret sauce" if you will, has been the return to conversation, again and again and again. It’s as if our life experience has been one long conversation with one another punctuated by periods of doing, separation and individuation. But we always find ourselves back at the breakfast table, clutching a cup of coffee in a café or riding next to one another in the car having an enjoyable, frequently deep and at times painful conversations. We would say our capacity to listen, really listen to one another, attune to one another’s experience, as well as to vulnerably share our true thoughts, feelings and experiences has been the ground from which our partnership has blossomed.
To carry the gardening metaphor a bit further. What have we identified that has fertilized this lifelong conversation? We would have to say questions. Good questions. Curious Questions. Questions that lead to self disclosure in a safe setting.
That’s one of the reasons we created the Couple Qs. Based on our popular Examen Qs, these 55 cards are designed to breathe life into your relationship through questions that promote mutual self-disclosure. Unlike many resources for couples, the focus of the Couple Qs is on learning and taking the risk to be known. As scary as that can sound to some of us, isn’t that what we really want? To be fully known in the reality of who we are, where we are and how we are and find ourselves genuinely loved and desired?
We wanted to release the Couple Qs in time for Valentine's Day (nudge, nudge men!) not to be another shallow Hallmark gimmick, but to help you and your partner enter into a deepening conversation over the weeks and months ahead. You may want to have a set on the table where you eat and use a card a week to prompt meaningful conversation. Or keep a set in the car to facilitate conversation as you travel. Take your time with them. Accept that you won’t do this perfectly. Yet we believe that if you engage with the process, you will become better listeners and sharers, and your love, admiration, and affection for each other will increase.
One last thing, have fun!