Ask Yourselves: Who Am I?

Sit down with your partner and ask each other these questions about your dreams, struggles, and future goals.

Sit down with your partner and ask each other these questions about your dreams, struggles, and future goals.

Sit down with your partner and ask each other these questions about your dreams, struggles, and future goals.

The previous blog introduced the Sound Relationship House Series and explored Love Maps, the house’s first level. Deepening your understanding of your partner’s inner psychological world and allowing them to get to know you more intimately is fundamental to strengthening the friendship in your relationship.

Over time priorities, goals, likes, and dislikes inevitably change. Beyond the simple in-and-outs, people experience deeper changes as life evolves. To truly know your partner, it is necessary to first know yourself. With the stressors of daily life, from deadlines at work, cleaning around the house, childcare, finances, etc., you don’t always have the opportunity for self-actualization.

Dr. John Gottman encourages you and your partner to set aside time to consider the following questions. Complete this over time in a relaxed and focused manner. These questions will allow you to embark upon deep and meaningful explorations of yourself while strengthening your bond with your partner.

My triumphs and strivings

  1. What are some of the proudest moments of your life? What kinds of stressful experiences have you survived where you felt more capable of meeting challenges?
  2. How have these successes shaped your life, changed the way in which you view yourself, your goals, your dreams?
  3. Did your parents show you that they were proud of you for your accomplishments? What about other important figures in your life? How did this affect your experience of feelings of pride in yourself?
  4. Were you shown love and affection in your family? If not, how has this affected your relationships in your adult life?

My injuries and healings

  1. What experiences have you had where you felt the deepest sense of disappointment, loss, self-doubt, hopelessness, loneliness?
  2. What kinds of deep traumas have you undergone? How have you survived them? What kinds of changes do you feel in yourself after going through these difficult times?
  3. How did you strengthen and heal yourself? How did you protect yourself? Did you find ways to avoid such experiences in the future?
  4. How do you think that these experiences have affected your relationships? Your relationship with your current partner? What do you want your partner to understand about you and your past injuries?

My mission and legacy

  1. What do you feel is the purpose of your life? What do you want to accomplish? What is your greatest struggle?
  2. What kind of a legacy do you want to leave behind?
  3. What kinds of significant goals do you still yearn to realize?

Who I want to become

  1. Describe the person that you want to become.
  2. What kinds of struggles have you faced in trying to become that person?
  3. What internal demons are you fighting?
  4. What would you most like to change about yourself?
  5. What do you want your life to be in five years?

When you and your partner work through this exercise, set aside a time when you are both relaxed and uninterrupted. Turn off the TV. Turn off your cell phones. While this exercise is meant to inspire conversation, it is a long, complex conversation that should not be had all at once. It is a conversation that should be ongoing throughout your lives as you change and dream and grow together!

Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.