$5 Answers for You
Let’s just say you’ve been married for more than a decade. Maybe 26 years.
You profess your greatest strength as a married couple is “communication.”
You’ve weathered and remained intact through multiple life challenges, including job changes, relocations and medical issues.
Most often you will claim your spouse as your “best friend.”
Then the world abruptly changes in early 2020 and you’re spending 24-hours a day, seven days a week for months on end with this person.
Are your claims and proclamations the same? How well do you really know the person you are living with? Can you stand being around one another all the time?
Do you know how they’d answer questions like this?
- Who or what challenges you?
- Would you ever set up a nanny cam to spy on someone watching your kids?
- What is the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you?
- Who’s someone you’d like to trade places with for a day?
- How long do you think you’ll live?
- Has anyone, or anything specific, ever made you feel inferior, if so what?
- What opportunity do you wish you would have taken?
It’s downright alarming how one can “know” someone for decades and not really know with certainty how they’d answers questions like these.
Priceless Clearance Book
I stopped at a bookstore in early 2020 and without much thought bought this $5 clearance book. I randomly flipped through the pages thinking this could be fun answering some of these questions and headed to the cash register.
Instead, this $5 book has proven priceless to our marriage.
It’s offered me rich, deep insight into a man I’ve known for over 30 years.
When I introduced the book to Ken, I framed it as a COVID Wednesday night activity. Sort of like a “date night”-something we always professed to do but never seemed to get around to actually doing.
Admittedly, we were both a bit tepid when we started this exercise. Each Wednesday, we’d take turns randomly choosing a number between 1-2000 and start asking each other the questions on the two pages, dating the pages and recording our responses in writing.
Some weeks we’d sit on the back porch after work completing this exercise, others on the sofa. As time went on, answers seemed more thoughtful and insightful and the awkwardness lessened. And, I, in particular, looked forward to seeing what questions would be asked and how we’d each respond.
Here’s a few things I’ve discovered.
- I cheat. Ken takes longer to answer the questions than I do. I give top-of-mind answers knowing that if the same question was asked on another day, my answer could quite likely be different. But, at that moment in time, this is my response. So, while he’s pondering and reflecting, I skip ahead and answer the questions he’s supposed to ask me when I’m done asking him. I need to refrain from turning everything into “cycle time management.” Yup. This exercise isn’t only about partner-discovery but also self-discovery.
- Ken likes chocolate. One can imagine with 2000 questions that there’d be some repetitive answers throughout the book. However, he answers a lot of questions with “chocolate.” For instance, “What food describes your personality?” Ken’s response is chocolate. Mine is watermelon. Or, “If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?” Ken’s response was chocolate. Mine was a Grammy’s Award Show producer. Ken admittedly and consistently likes chocolate. This is not new learning for me but it’s nice to see he’s consistent.
- Memories are resurrected. Many of the questions uncover buried childhood activities or memories. Listening to one another share these stories has been enlightening and fun. Stories and answers offer a lot of insight into the way one another responds to events and issues today. We grew up in very different environments; Ken in Louisville, Kentucky in a family of four and me on a North Dakota diversified farm in a family of 11. Imagine the stories being shared through these questions we may have never thought to ask one another.
- People have many layers. In the business world peeling back the multiple layers of an onion to get to the core is used as an example of how to understand a problem. This same principle applies, only it’s not a problem, it’s a person. What this exercise has clearly proven is that there is a lot of joy in going beyond the superficial and peeling back the layers and getting to know the core of the person you love, perhaps the longest.
- Men also like sharing deeply. The stereotype about men being emotionally closed off and too manly to answer questions like those in this book is repeatedly proven wrong. Ken could have very easily stopped this weekly activity. He could have used sarcasm and humor to answer the questions, not giving it serious attention. He didn’t. About the third week in, I got it. He actually enjoyed sharing, recalling and being listened to. It doesn’t make him less of a man. It makes him more of a human and more known to me.
Wednesday nights now are sacred. We purposely avoid scheduling other activities at this time and do our best to avoid distractions like phones, the Internet and TV. The book is an adjunct to the date-one week planned by Ken, the other by me.
It’s taken us quite a while to reach this point in our marriage.
Good Choices & Happiness
But when question #1212 was asked: Do you think happiness is a choice? Ken responded, “Yes” on June 3, 2020 and I, “Certainly. Work at making good choices.”
Buying 2000 Questions About Me was a wonderful choice leading to much discovery and happiness in our marriage in 2020.
September 2020. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved.
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Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.
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