Inspired by numerous sessions with people I accompany, today I want to talk about how curiosity can save relationships of any kind.
I am sure you are already skeptical. Curiosity has always had a negative connotation; “don’t be nosy” or “curiosity killed the cat” are some of the phrases we often hear associated with it.
When we think of curiosity in a relationship, images of a frantic person trying to crack a computer password, looking at the browser history or looking at someone’s phone while they are sleeping come to mind.
Well, let me assure you. This is, by no means, the kind of curiosity I have in mind!
The curiosity I want to talk about is that of a child.
Do you know that age when the child, after having discovered his/her voice and his/her brain is able to reason, wants to discover the world and how it works? When his/her incessant questions drive you crazy? “Why?”, “How?”, “What?”, “Where?” etc.
Children at that age are not afraid to ask questions. They fire away! They do not ask close-ended questions either. They are free from past experience and “baggage” which can have most of us jump to conclusions. They do not make assumptions. They will not be disappointed by the answer because they do not expect a certain kind of answer to be satisfied. Any answer is good. They genuinely want to find out!
Can you say the same thing about you? When was the last time you asked a question and were open to getting any answer with no expectations and no strings attached? When was the last time you were genuinely curious?
Client: “I am very angry at my husband. He never helps me with anything!”
Me: “When was the last time you asked for help?”
Client: “I don’t ask him for help.”
Me: “Why don’t you ask for help?”
Client: “He can see I am tired. I do everything in the house plus have a job and take care of the kids! If he loved me, I wouldn’t have to ask!”
Me: “Why don’t you ask, for a change, and see what happens? If he says NO, then you will have a real reason to be angry.”
Client: “Even if I do, he will not help me. Maybe he will say he will but in the end I will do it by myself!”
Me: “How do you know this will be the case if you have never asked?”
Client: “Oh, trust me, I know. It’s because of his mother, my mother in law. She spoilt him rotten. He was her prince. She even has a say in how we run our household…”
Me: “How is that?”
Client: “She calls her son, asks him about our family and then tells him what to do.”
Me: “How do you know all that?”
Client: “I know! They talk for hours and she bosses him around.”
Me: “Yes, but how do you know? Are you present during those calls? Are they on speaker? Or, have you ever asked him what they talk about or whose idea something was?”
Client: “No, but I know what a manipulative witch she is…”
And so on, and so forth…
Healthy curiosity goes hand in hand with honesty (click here read my article on healthy relationships). They are key to healthy, fulfilling relationships.
Ask! Do not be afraid of the answer you might get. Any answer is a good answer. Any answer can take the relationship forward. Because an answer can generate another question and another question and, in the end, we get to know each other better and base our relationship on who we both truly are and not who we pretend or imagine the other to be. Just make sure to ask open-ended questions, as they are the only ones that express genuine curiosity.
I know that some of the answers might not be what you wanted or expected to hear. And that’s ok. You have the right to express your feelings in all honesty by being vulnerable and true (click here read my article on honesty in healthy relationships) and you should as long as you respect certain rules (click here read my article on the 50% rule for healthy relationships).
And that’s how (healthy) curiosity can save a relationship!