She is doing / saying _________ because she feels ________.
Both Question #3 and #4 are questions of empathy.
What makes this question unique is that it's not a "daily question" in that it's a routine question you should be asking yourself once a day.
Instead, this is a question I want you to learn to ask yourself in the heat of the moment, when you're communicating or interacting with your wife. When used correctly, this question can give an incredible boost to your communication with your wife simply by increasing your empathy for her.
Don't get me wrong, this is easier said than done.
A question like this can't be answered in the moment or otherwise unless you've spent time putting yourself into your wife's shoes to try and understand where her head and heart are at right now.
Here are some example answers you might encounter in your separation:
- "My wife is limiting contact with me because she feels anxious that I will pressure her if she talks to me."
- "My wife told me again that she still wants divorce because she was feeling powerless and needed to reassert control in the relationship."
- "My wife yelled at me because she is feeling burnt out and stressed from the crisis that we're both going through."
This question is very hard to answer at first. But over time, with practice, you can get better at identifying the thoughts or feelings behind what your wife is saying or doing on the surface.
Obviously, the ideal situation here is that your wife could actually answer this question herself. However, that's usually not realistic to ask for during separation. Most separated wives aren't in a spot where they'll have open emotional conversations with you anytime you ask.
Since you're answering this question on behalf of your wife, you must be very careful not to put too much weight on the feelings or conclusions you *think* your wife is having behind the scenes. Be open to being wrong or to misinterpreting her motives.
This question is still valuable to ask yourself, though, because it gets you thinking past what's right in front of you.
If you get into an uncomfortable situation with your wife, or you feel confused by something she says or does, step back and ask yourself this question. How do her feelings explain what you're seeing?
Usually, the answer is not that difficult to see... The hard part is remembering to stop and empathize.
What asking question does for you:
- First, it teaches you to remember empathy, even in the midst of hard conversations.
- Second, it teaches you to consider how your past or present actions may be affecting your wife emotionally. This can help you take responsibility for the feelings you may have caused, even if you don't take responsibility for how your wife handled those feelings.
- Third, it also helps you to not take things so personally. Some of the most hurtful things I see men experience during separation are not actually intended to be hurtful, but are driven by the pain and chaos that their wives are experiencing internally.
One other clarification, this question is not meant to teach you to give your wife a free pass for her bad behavior.
Even if you can explain the reason or feeling behind your wife's actions, those actions can still be wrong.
For example, you might be able to understand that your wife started having an affair because she felt neglected and undesirable, but those feelings don't justify having an affair.
However, knowing those feelings might help you not to take it so personally that she strayed, and to take the right amount of responsibility in fixing the other problems in your marriage. And you can do both of those things without justifying her choice to stray.