In the early stages of a relationship, there is rarely a lack of topics to talk about. Usually, you and your new partner can spend hours talking about"well, nothing in particular. As the years go on, you may find yourself wondering what you ever talked about. Conversation may be limited to the children, what is for dinner, chores that need to be done and the logistics of running a household together. But these topics don’t give you the emotional connection you once had. These types of interactions can leave you feeling empty and make you wonder where the spark went.
Sometimes we get into a rut, we think we know everything about our partner. We think we know how he or she thinks, what he wants out of life, what she likes and doesn’t like. But the truth is, no matter how long you are together, there are always new things to learn about one another. Think about a couple that you think has a great relationship. Chances are, they still care about one another’s thoughts, feelings and opinions. Chances are they still ask questions and continually learn about one another. They still share a sense of wonder about each other.
While it is the deep, meaningful discussions that we crave, these talks often begin with a question, small talk or the simply the willingness to learn and listen. If you look across the table at your partner and don’t have any idea of what to say or how to begin, the following questions/requests can help you get started:
- Who is a friend from you past you wish was still in your life? What is it about this friend you miss? Why did you lose touch with this friend?
- If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
- What is your first memory from childhood?
- Describe the best birthday you ever had.
- What is one thing you have never done but have always wanted to do?
- Tell me about your most embarrassing moment.
- If you could go back and live in any time in history, what would that be? What about that time most interests you?
- Do you lean on facts or feelings when making decisions?
- If money were no object, where would you go on vacation?
- What is the grossest thing you have ever had to do?
- If you could bring back one person from history, who would you bring back and what would you ask him/her?
- If you could be one character from a movie, television show, book, who would you be? (Great question to ask when you are both watching television together.)
- If you could speak another language, what language would you choose?
- If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
- Tell me about the most adventurous thing you have ever done.
- If we stopped what we were doing right now to go have "fun" what would you choose to do?
- What did you learn new today?
- What was the nicest thing anyone ever did for you?
- What would you like people to remember about you after you die?
- What one place in our country would you like to visit? What one place in the world would you like to visit?
- What about getting older are you most afraid of?
- What was your favorite job? What was your least favorite?
- What do you admire most about your parents?
- Tell me about the last dream you remember.
- What fiction book/movie/television show do you wish were true?
Remember to ask "why" when talking about different topics. Listen closely to your partner’s answers and ask questions to probe their thoughts. Share your ideas, thoughts and opinions on the topic as well (without offering an opinion to "correct" your partner - this isn’t about being right or wrong, it is about building a connection with one another.)
Accepting that you don’t know your partner, even after years of being together, is the first step. As you begin asking questions you may be surprised where conversations lead and find that your curiosity about your partner begins to build. In the beginning you may need to keep coming back to this list for new ideas but, as you continue, you may find you no longer need new ideas; that you have once again found the ability to talk for hours about nothing in particular and that every area of your relationship improves.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.