What can I do to help? This is probably the single most
important question you can ask. Let’s consider how this ‘miracle question’, as
my husband calls it, works with your spouse.
You see, there are some good reasons to ask this. The first
reason is that it is a way to make a connection with someone in a
non-threatening way. It is not a demand or request. It makes no assumptions. Gottman
talks about small things often. One of those small things is reaching out for
connection with our spouse. Asking what we can do to help, let’s them know we
are thinking about them in a positive way. It feels good, even if we don’t need
their help at the moment. We feel valued by them.
Our days get so full and busy that we often just push on
from one task or obligation to the next. Being asked if someone can help us is
refreshing. Even if we don’t take them up on their offer of help, it makes us
feel better that someone noticed us and reached out to us. A pleasant
connection was made.
Asking what we can do to help is good for us. It reminds us
that the world does not revolve around us. It is easy to get self-centered.
We’re busy, not everything went as planned, and we get irritable. Asking how we
can help them takes our mind off our day and recognizes they may be having an
even worse day than us. Asking our spouse what we can do for them, lets them know
we don’t want to be selfish and self centered. We realize they have needs and
desires too, and we want to help, not weigh them down.
Another good reason to ask, is that we may not be able to
see what would help them the most. Just starting to do something, like opening
a door may be less helpful than grabbing a bag about to tumble from their arms.
Here are some times we can use this question
- Before leaving the house in the morning lets our spouse know we realize we’ll be apart and want one more connection first. Perhaps there is a phone call you could make for them or some small errand that would ease their morning routine.
- Call or text while out to see if you can buy something they need on your way home.
- When your spouse has been with the children for a long time, you might be able to help by taking over with the children for a while.
I’m sure you can think of many more.
Build and strengthen your marriage by using the miracle question often.
“What can I do that would help? “ is another twist on this question. We may have a frustrating or stressful situation we face often. We have tried different things and nothing seems to work. From a different point of view they may be able to suggest a better way that could help. Often we are just too close to realize that we are making it worse by what we do. Your spouse can often give you that insight, if you ask the right question. Then be willing to give their idea a good try. This can really strength your marriage.
Many husbands come home from work and want to decompress for
a while before jumping into home life. Their wife could ask, “What can I do to
help you refresh? These husbands would be wise to not take longer than
necessary unwinding and then ask their wife, What can I do to help?” One day it
might be watching the kids. Another it could be sweeping the floor or setting
the table. The fact that you asked and did something makes married life so much
richer for both partners.
I would love to hear that this question has done its miracle work in your lives.