When I am talking with a mentee about a certain challenge or a desired goal in his life, I will ask him the “Five Why’s.” It is a method that allows us to get to the root of the motive. The way it works is to ask why five times. Every answer is followed by another why. Usually by the fourth or fifth why, we are at the root or the motive and it turns out that many of our actions are rooted in deep-seated emotions of fear.


This is the same strategy I employ when discussing marital challenges. For example, if one or both partners are negative, disinterested in couple activities, or preoccupied, my wife or I will begin with “Why are you responding this way?” Once we get an answer, we will take that answer and turn it into a question. This activity will continue three or four more times until we reach the motive.

You can do a self examination, too! When you feel a drain, emptiness or a measurable distance growing in your marriage, just start asking why and continue until you’ve asked yourself five times. Once you get to the motive, seek help to conquer it. Remember, personal, negative emotions of the past can lay dormant until they resurface decades later, cleverly disguised as someone else’s issue.