April 11, 2024

Last week I began a series focused on questions I ask my couples when I’m writing their ceremonies. The questions are always an invitation – to my couples, but also to all of our readers. In fact, I often ask them of myself and my husband, sort of marveling over his answers (he regularly surprises me with his answers), as well as how the answers have changed over time. I think the questions are fun. Because as I mentioned in last week’s blog: who doesn’t love to talk about their love story?

I like to start with “Tell me your favorite stories about each other, or about the two of you together.” With this question, there’s always a way to weave together a shared history, building on strengths, and good memories. It’s also a reminder to couples – and to us as readers – that the stories we tell matter. There is rarely one story, or one narrative. Rather, it’s usually several stories, or at least two perspectives on a story.

So, ready for the next question?

What are you good at as a couple?

This question typically gets the briefest, most concise answers. It’s also prompts answers with the most overlap between partners, and across couples. Can you guess what most couples say?

We are good at communication.
We are good at supporting each other.
We know how to have fun together, and laugh together

And a personal favorite:
We are each other’s best friend.

There’s a lot of good stuff packed in those sentiments. And, indeed, a lot goes wrong when communication breaks down, when mutual support fails, and when laughter ceases. A lot goes wrong when friendship is not part of the intimacy equation.

It’s interesting to note that it is this question where I see the word “we” the most. That’s no small thing. “We,” or the mutuality and commonwealth of marriage, can look many different ways. But no matter what those strengths are, “we” is the bedrock of marriage. When couples lose sight of those strengths, those commonalities – when “we” slips back into “you and me” – marriage can deteriorate pretty quickly.

That’s why this question is so important. Name your strengths. Own them. Because you will want to revisit them in stressful times (you sure don’t want to be figuring out those strengths in stressful times). You’ll want to celebrate them in great times. You will want to remind yourselves of what you are good at, why you are better together, what your thesis statement is as a couple.

So, what are you good at as a couple? Do any of the above strengths resonate with you? What would you add?