Imagine asking your partner these questions, consider how you feel about asking them, and if you are willing to get even more vulnerable try actually asking your partner.
These are a few questions to start the relationship strengthening process:
- “What can I help you with right now?”
If you are afraid to offer help without providing specific guidelines as to the type of help you are offering then you might want to ask yourself why. If your partner often uses you generosity against you, then it indicates an imbalance of power and this is experienced in all emotionally abusive relationships.
- “How can I show you I love you?”
Asking how you can be loving to your partner should result in good feelings for both of you. If the request your partner gives in response makes you feel uncomfortable, it might be a sign that your partner isn't respecting your personal values or boundaries.
- “Is there one ‘little’ thing about me that you would like me to change?”
We all have little things about ourselves that we can improve, but if your partner uses this question as an opportunity to put you down or share a long list of your faults then they missed the vulnerability required for you to ask this kind of question.
- “Is there someplace special that you would like to go?”
If you don't want to ask this question because you happily just do what your partner wants all the time, this indicates a possible loss of your own thoughts/ideas. While your partners reaction to this question may not tell you if you are in an abusive relationship, your own thoughts about asking it can provide excellent clues to the health of your relationship.
- “What is it about our life together that makes you happy?”
Obviously, if your partner struggles to identify any parts of your life together that make them happy, then they are likely not happy. Getting some counseling as a couple might help you identify exactly where the problem is and will help you consider some fresh ideas to help bring back the joy.
- “Is there anything I can do to make you feel more loved?”
This question is an invitation for your partner to trust and be vulnerable with you. If they are unable to answer without redirecting the question to another topic then it could identify that your partner is uncomfortable trusting you with their own vulnerability.
- “What’s something you’d like to do together that we have never done before?”
Asking this question can will help break up the monotony of your relationship especially if the problem you are experiencing is simply boredom. The best part is that the question provides you with some insight about things that interest your partner that they may not thought of sharing with you. Experiencing new things together can also build trust and connection. If you happen to feel nervous about suggesting something new because your partner gets upset when new things do not turn out as expected, then you may be involved in a relationship that isn't as healthy as it could be.
If you do suspect that you might be in an abusive relationship, the first step to sorting that question out is to research the various types of abuse. It is important not to jump to conclusions or panic. Most forms of abuse are subtle in the early stages. The first areas of research that you might consider include EMOTIONAL ABUSE, FINANCIAL ABUSE or NARCISSIST BEHAVIOR. If you find yourself recognizing a number of things that suggest your relationship might be abusive, then you can call or reach out to http://www.thehotline.org/help. No matter where you are in the country, they will direct you to resources in your area that will help you clear up any questions you have about how you can be safer.