If you woke up tomorrow and a miracle happened so that you had a thriving, passionate marriage, what would you see differently? What would be the first signs that a miracle had occurred?

Today, on our podcast, Caleb introduced me to the “miracle question” above – the lynch pin question in Solution Focused Therapy.

You can ask this question about anything really. For example, “If you woke up tomorrow, and a miracle happened so that you no longer easily lost your temper, what would you see differently? What would the first signs be that the miracle occurred?”

Basically, in asking this question, you are asking a person to create a small shift in their thinking by looking at the other side of their problem and then coming back through from that side.

That sounds pretty complicated, but what I got from it was this: Sometimes I can find myself stuck on an issue and don’t know what to do with it. If I could envision what my life would look like without the problem, and then come back to the problem with that vision in my head, it can give me ideas of what I need to do next. It can also give me the motivation to become unstuck!

Let me give you an example. It’s not a marriage example, but a housewife one. Sometimes I just get overwhelmed with my house. It may not be terrible, but not how I want to keep my house. When Caleb asks me the ‘miracle question’ and I envision what my house would look like if a miracle occurred (how come this type of miracle never actually happens!?!?!), and then come back to my problem (my messy house) from that direction, I can generally think of what I need to do next.

The Long Version

Caleb also gave a LONG version of the same question. You really should listen to the podcast episode to get the full effect but I will do my best to type it as he spoke it. Think, calm, quiet, relaxing, SLOW voice as you read this:

“I am going to ask you a rather strange question. [pause] The strange question is this: [pause] After we talk, you will go back to your work (home, school) and you will do whatever you need to do the rest of today, such as taking care of the children, cooking dinner, watching TV, giving the children a bath, and so on. It will be time to go to bed. Everybody in your household is quiet, and you are sleeping in peace. In the middle of the night, a miracle happens and the problem we’re discussing right now is solved! But because this happens while you are sleeping, you have no way of knowing that there was an overnight miracle that solved the problem. [pause] So, when you wake up tomorrow morning, what might be the small change that will make you say to yourself, ‘Wow, something must have happened—the problem is gone!’”?

Then you must wait, SILENTLY, for the answer. Let your spouse be creative and come up with an answer!

What’s the Point?

Caleb and I finally discussed what the point of this question is. It’s definitely not a natural response in the middle of a problem that seems to have no solutions. So, what is the point?

This question breaks you out of your box – your usual way of thinking. It takes big drama, inspires creativity, and helps your spouse see that there are steps they can take to start to shift their own circumstances.

And it can be used anywhere: in marriage, at work, with your kids, with a girlfriend!

But, you have to ask it well. You have to ask it slowly, and then wait, SILENTLY, for the answer.

I have to admit when Caleb first starting talking about it, it sounded pretty “woo-woo” to me, but after thinking it through, it made a lot of sense. Now I can’t wait to try it on Caleb, but given that I’m married to a marriage therapist, he always seems to think of these things first! 🙂

Give it a try the next time you and your spouse are at a stalemate!

Image courtesy of Daniel under the Creative Commons license.