Does the solution match the need?

This post by Seth Godin reminded me of a lot of couples – one of them has mentioned something that’s not working, and the other is putting a lot of time and energy into solving what they think the problem is. But all to often, the problem being “solved” isn’t the problem that was brought up. No matter how great a solution is, if it’s not a solution for the real problem, it’s not helping.

Seth suggests the “obligating question” – a technique Zig Ziglar originated for sales people. While I’m not suggesting you “sell your wife” on things, the obligating question can help you find what’s wanted. It can also distinguish what’s really needed from what would be nice but isn’t necessary. Obligating questions can help you get a feel for what she needs and what would satisfy her need.

A few examples to get you started:

  • If I was home 6 weekend days a month, would that work for you?
  • If the grass is never more than 4 inches long, would that be acceptable?
  • Would two dates a month, without the children, satisfy your need for time out with me?
  • If I change the subject every time my mother starts to nag, would you feel I’m putting you ahead of her?


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