My Experience with “36 Questions to Fall in Love”

Have you heard of the 36 questions to fall in love study? Here is the way I remember it. A psychologist, Arthur Aron, proposed that he could cause 2 people to fall in love by asking progressively intimate questions of each other and then have them stare silently into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes. The study was published in the late 90s but became popular during the time when I was online dating. The TV show, The Big Bang Theory, even did an episode about the questions. As the story was told to me, the two people who were used in the initial study actually did fall in love. Since I was looking for true love and intimacy in the online world, I thought I might as well give it a try.

I remember sitting across the table at a restaurant from the man I was currently dating. “Want to play a game?” I asked him. His eyebrow went up and he asked what kind of game? I explained to him about the 36 questions. He was skeptical but agreed to play along. We began taking turns asking each other the questions. We pushed my phone back and forth across the table asking each other questions. Alternating who asked the question first. I have to admit it was a fun way to get to know each other and to deepen the relationship. In the end, he and I dated for about 6 months but did not fall in love. I did do the questions with a couple other of the men I dated.

One of the men I did the questions with became my husband. We did the questions while driving to go on our first camping trip together. Again the questions were a great way to get to know each other. I think the key was that the conversation was going on during the long drive and initiated many side conversations. This time the questions revealed a whole new experience. This time the questions deepened a closeness that was already forming. The questions took us a couple of days to get through because we didn’t rush them and we allowed them to take us down bunny trails and into other conversations. I am sure this was not the intention during the study but we’re not scientists, just two people getting to know each other on a deeper level. When it came time for the 4 minutes of gazing into each others eyes, it was magical. It was almost like a meditative experience.

In the end, did the 36 Questions cause my husband and I to fall in love? No, we already were in love (although we had not expressed this to each other yet) when we asked each other the questions. I believe true love is really about a soul connection. The questions did help us to know each other better. Our relationship was brought to the next level and the questions prompted deep and meaningful conversations over the course of the weekend. It was on that same weekend that we did profess our love to each other. Did the intimacy, spun out of asking the questions, allow for our comfort in saying the words? Maybe.  We just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary.

Thank you for reading my blog today. I wish you a lifetime of deep and meaningful intimacy.

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Beneficial Forgiveness

Who are you unable to forgive and why? What things do you consider to be unforgivable? What mistakes have you made in life that you are still holding tight to because the pain is too much to think about? Being able to forgive others and even more so, to forgive yourself, can be life changing.

Most people do not set out in life to be a pain the the you know what. As humans, I believe we do the best we can, in the time and space we are in. But because of what we are holding on to, sometime the decisions we make will cause pain for ourselves and or others. I think if we realize that people do the best they can in the time and space they are in, it’ll help you leg go of the anger, regret and disappointment in order to find it in your heart to offer forgiveness.

I was in a toxic marriage once. There was verbal and emotional things happening that have had a lasting impact. I stayed in the marriage because I really believed that my children needed a home with a father and a mother. I also did not believe I could be successful in providing my children with a home and the other things they needed without two incomes. I was wrong about both of these things. I stayed because I didn’t know I was wrong. I stayed because I didn’t understand the lasting impact that this environment was having on my children. I stayed because I did not have enough self worth to believe I could leave. Eventually, I found my self worth and did leave the marriage. I am only now starting to fully understand how my children were hurt and affected by this.

So who do I need to forgive as a result of this story. I need to forgive myself for staying way to long. I need to forgive my ex-husband for the way he treated me and the children. I need to forgive my daughter who still holds so much anger at me for staying too long and for not protecting her more. I need to forgive my catholic up bringing that made me think I couldn’t leave. I need to forgive myself for feeling like a failure, because I couldn’t fix it.

I will tell you I have worked through this and have been able to forgive. Much of this processing and healing took place in the BWCA, with Emy’s support and love. I was able to touch those very painful emotions that were pushed down deep inside. I was able to feel them and understand them and eventually let them go. I was able to understand that my ex-husband was doing the best he could in the time and space he was in. He had learned how to be a family from his own family. Perhaps what had been modeled for him, when he was a child, was also not healthy. I came to understand that he had his own inner demons and probably did not like himself very much. He did not know how to deal with or heal these things. So it came out in these ways that harmed our family. Once I had some understanding of why he acted the way he did, I was able to forgive him. This forgiveness was a gift to him but more importantly it was a gift to myself. Forgiving him freed me from wallowing in the hate and self loathing. Forgiving him allowed me to get to the place where I could forgive myself. Forgiving him allowed me to let go of that “failed” marriage and give it blessings for the experiences I had and the things I learned as a result of it. Forgiving him gave me a new found freedom and a new found peace. Forgiving him was far more beneficial to me than it will ever be to him. Forgiving my daughter is easy. I pray the someday she will forgive me. Not because I feel I need forgiveness but because it will free her and allow her to heal. Forgiving my catholic up bringing was easier once I realized that it was a result of good intentions on my parents part. They were doing what they thought was right. They were doing the best they could to raise their children. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. I think when we can see the good intentions behind the things that hurt us, it is easier to find forgiveness.

The hardest forgiveness that took place from the story I shared above was forgiving myself. We hold ourselves to a higher standard. We do not allow for our own mistakes. We take these perceived “failures” and hold on to them. We often feel they are unforgivable. None of us are perfect. Once I was able to realize that I too did the best I could in the time and place I was in, I began to see that I was able to forgive myself. I forgave myself for staying too long, for “failing” at marriage, for the mistakes I made in the midst of the marriage that made situations worse. The freedom of no longer holding on to these things allowed for a sense of freedom. The chains had been released. I was able to move on. I was able to work on myself and become a healthier version of me. I was able to find a relationship that is happy and healthy.

What in your life are you not able to forgive? Yourself? Others? Situations? Is there a way that you can see these situations from another perspective and find forgiveness? It will change your life. Forgive others, not for their benefit but for your own benefit. Free yourself from having to hold on to that disappointment any longer.

Do you have a story to share about how forgiveness improved your life? Do you have things you are currently working on forgiving yourself for? Do you have things you have learned along the way you would like to share with others?

Thank you for reading my blogs today. Feel free to share it with others you feel it may help. May your life be filled with healthy forgiveness. Blessings, Stacy

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Maintaining effective communication during the holidays

Today’s blog is written by Emy Minzel, Adventure Sister.

The stress of the holidays has a way of bringing us closer or tearing us apart. I hear stories that make me laugh, cry, and groan, sometimes all at the same time. I would like to focus on how we convey or communicate love in our closest family relationships. I am guilty of getting defensive when I hear something I may not agree with from people I love. Yet through my years I’ve learned it’s not the best way to communicate effectively.

We know that when our parents, family, and friends are meddling in our lives it’s usually because they love you and see things from a different perspective. They may have advice we don’t want to hear, but it is important for us to listen with love. They speak up because they had been there and done that, and don’t want to do it again. They warn us or tell us ‘how it is’ because they love you, even if it upsets us and pisses us off.

What if we decided to give our dearest family and friends, the benefit of the doubt? Choose to think only the best of them. If we tried to recognize that whatever they do or say, they do it out of love or fear. Then we could also assume that the people we love, do the best they can, in the time and space they’ve been given. I have realized that all our actions, the good, the bad, and the ugly, come from fear or love. At the root, we all want to be loved. As we grow in different ways and different directions, the way we communicate changes as well.

What matters is that we continue to communicate. Even if we are scared, it’s important to tell our loved ones if you are fearful, or hurt, without assuming their actions or words were purposely harmful. Most likely they were not. Keeping lines of communication open, by not overreacting or shutting down is difficult for some, yet it’s imperative for effective communication. When we overreact and blow up, our emotions take over and our ears stop listening, stopping any connection in its tracks. This can affect even our closest most cherished relationships.

What if we met miscommunication and perceived hurt with love? Understanding that loved ones are either fearful of something or trying to show love in a way you may not understand. How would the conversation change if we chose to calm fears, by focusing on love? It may take courage to ask our loved ones to explain until we understand. It takes disciplined focus to speak our truth the best we are able, in the kindest way possible. It’s well worth the work we put in to communicating well, we should talk and know it’s ok to agree to disagree, respectfully.

It can be hard to remember that how we communicate our thoughts and feelings will define our character. How we act/react, handle hard times/good times/holidays, how you make someone feel, the words you choose and how you say them become how you communicate. How you communicate portrays how your closest family and friends will remember you.

My hopes this holiday season are that you too choose love and communication. Remembering that most of your family will act out of fear or love. When we focus on love, we open understanding and healing, this is how we make the world a better place, one family at a time.

~ Emy Minzel, Adventure Sister

What is love?

What is love? Is it the passion you feel for your romantic partner? Is it the warmth in your heart when you see a sleeping baby? There are as many different answers to this question. Probably as there are people to ask it. I want to tell you about the selfless love my husband has displayed to me over that last couple of weeks. It has shown me another aspect to love. I am blessed to have the unconditional love of this man.

Two weeks ago I fell and broke my wrist. Having only the use of my left hand has given me challenges that I didn’t anticipate on having. We tend to under appreciate having two working hands. It isn’t until you lose the use of one hand that you recognize that. I have needed help with things that in the past I took for granted. Washing my hair, putting on my socks, and opening a container, were some of the tasks i needed help with. My husband patiently helped me with these once seemingly easy tasks.

 

When the pain was new and intense, he got up every 2 hours in the night to make sure I was as comfortable as possible and to give me pain medications. He has driven me to appointments and meetings. He has been right by my side throughout this process. My husband has taken over household chores that are typically my responsibility. He has done all of this with care and compassion. He is steady when I am having a meltdown because something is more difficult now. My husband reassures me, when I feel bad because I have lost my cool.

 

I now know that love is multifaceted. It is the hot steamy moments alone, touching and exploring pleasure together. It is looking tour new grandson with pride. It is holding hands and walking down the street as the sun sets together. Love is so much more than these sweet moments. Love is caring for another, even when it is not glamorous. Marty shows me his unending love by doing for me what i can’t not currently do for myself. He needs no praise or recognition. He does it because he loves me from deep in his soul.

I am grateful for this love. I am humbled by it. I hope he feels the depth of my love. When I bake cookies, wash the towels, and do other simple household tasks, I express this love.

What ways do you show your love?