19 Questions for a Spouse Who Doesn’t Follow Through

For nearly 14 years as a marriage counselor I’ve been collecting examples of how spouses drive each other crazy. One of the more insidious (vexing, nasty, irritating) dynamics in a conflicted marriage is when one or both parties don’t follow through on their responsibilities. It does little good to scold such a one; they just dig in their heels. My approach is more conciliatory. After building rapport I simply ask some questions. Here’s my arsenal of Qs for the spouse who doesn’t follow through.

“Remember that conversation we had about division of labor…?”

  1. When growing up what responsibilities did your parents give you? Which of your tasks did they do themselves?
  2.  How did you and your spouse decide who does what job, task, role, and duty?
  3.  What must it be like for your spouse to hear you say “I love you” when you don’t do your job?
  4.  If your spouse is doing your jobs, etc, how do you deal with their resentment?
  5.  If your spouse is doing your jobs, etc, how will you deal with their burn out?
  6.  Why do you expect your spouse to do your jobs, tasks, roles, and/or duties?
  7.  What’s it like being the one teaching your spouse patience?
  8.  What indications are there that your spouse is frustrated, aggravated, and irritated?
  9.  What’s it like living with a spouse who is frustrated, aggravated, and irritated?
  10.  Since lack of ambition, initiative, and responsibility increases your spouse’s frustration why do you choose not to take action. Laziness? Anger? Revenge? Drama addiction? Do you want your spouse to swat you like an irritating mosquito? Do you love being nagged?
  11.  How might knowing that procrastination is a symptom of slothfulness motivate you?
  12.  If you’re angry at your spouse why do you prefer foot dragging to conflict resolution?
  13.  If you don’t conquer your lack of follow through how will you deal with the natural consequences your spouse puts in place?
  14.  How will your broken promises (“yeah, I’ll get to it later”) build the foundation of a healthy marriage?
  15.  Is your lack of follow through due to fear, lack of motivation, lack of know-how, or lack of love?
  16.  If fear, what are you afraid of–criticism, being micro managed, lack of gratitude?
  17.  If lack of motivation, why do you take on more projects than you plan to fulfill?
  18.  If lack of know how, which coach would help the most: time management coach (to help you  prioritize and managing time and juggle multiple priorities) an ADD coach (to help you stay focused) or a depression coach (to help you conquer the negative thoughts that contribute to lethargy)?
  19.  If lack of love what will it take to regain the love you once had?
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