Glennon Melton, blogger at “Momastery”, has suggested in a recent post that the questions we ask each other may have the power to save our relationships.

At Huffington Post, Melton argues,

if we really want to know our people, if we really care to know them — we need to ask them better questions and then really listen to their answers. We need to ask questions that carry along with them this message: “I’m not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel. I really want to know you.” If we don’t want throwaway answers, we can’t ask throwaway questions

The reason questions are so important Melton suggests is that,

Questions are like gifts — it’s the thought behind them that the receiver really FEELS.

Deep listening and meaningful questions are vital in developing healthy relationships. But, I am not sure Melton is asking the right questions.

Among the twelve questions Melton recommends half share a common theme.

She aims to ask her husband:

When did you feel loved today?

When did you feel lonely?

What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?

What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?

From her children, she wants to know:

How did you feel during your spelling test?

Did you feel lonely at all today?

Feelings are important. We need to be conscious of our feelings and as aware as we can of the feelings of others. But, is it possible to overdo the feeling-thing?

The spiritual teacher Adyashanti holds an unusual view of feelings. In an interview at Sun Magazine he said,

I couldn’t care less about how I feel. It just became irrelevant at some point. To be rooted in something deeper was . . . I can’t say it felt better, because it didn’t. It just has an effect on you. It makes it easier not to be attached to things.

Why is it helpful for me to ask my wife, “When did you feel loved today?” If she is honest and self-aware she can probably comb through her day and find as many moments when she was able to “feel loved” as when she felt unloved.

Life provides circumstances in abundance that will give us occasion to experience opposite emotions in equal measure. If we are constantly preoccupied with these feelings, we place ourselves on an endless rollercoaster of emotion.

If I scan through my day to find “When did you feel lonely?” the only honest answer is, “All day”. There is a part of our experience that can never be fully shared. If we expect another human being to keep us from feeling lonely, we place an impossible burden upon that person.

What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?” If my sense of well-being depends upon feeling “appreciated” I will never experience an abiding sense of well-being. There will be times I feel appreciated and times I do not feel appreciated. To be constantly looking for those times when your reactions to me make it possible for me to feel “appreciated” means I live in bondage to your reactions to my behaviour.

Some of the most unhealthy statements in any relationship begin, “You make me feel….”

I choose to nurture certain feelings; others I let go with barely any notice. We are not controlled by the behaviour or attitudes of others. To mature is to become increasingly free of the kind of reactive behaviour that is constantly yanked around by the responses of other people.

What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?” Why do I need to feel noticed? Why do I need you to pay attention to me? Why do I give my sense of self away to you?  Why would I allow my sense of identity to depend upon your response to me?

Perhaps, more important than all Melton’s questions, is the fundamental question – Why do I take my feelings so seriously? Freedom means living from a deep grounded place within myself that is not controlled by external circumstance or the feelings that may be attached to those circumstances.