This question, or variations of it, have been adopted by several different psychotherapy treatment models, including family systems therapy, solution-oriented therapy (the “miracle question,” of DeShazer), and brief therapy (Gustafson’s Complex Secret of Brief Psychotherapy).
All this means is that the patient, if deprived of his or her usual ways of playing out a family role, would merely find another way to act it out. It avoids the question of why the patient is playing the role in the first place. I would counter with, "What would be the downside if you were able to have a totally successful relationship with a nice woman?"
The therapist instead asked her, “What would happen if you were able to stop yourself from doing that and enjoyed your work?” The patient’s immediate response was, “My mother would not know what to do with herself, and she would stop sending me money!”