We’ve all seen couples who sit in silence when eating at a restaurant. They don’t seem to have anything to say to each other anymore. Did they really say everything there is to say?
If you are like me, you want more from your marriage. You want to keep your love vibrant and alive no matter how long you’ve been together. You want things to talk about even after 30 years of marriage.
Couples who are in the habit of talking still usually stick to the same, tired topics: work, family, and the house. When they are excited, they add in discussion of their hobbies, but usually not.
No wonder so many couples fall into Roommate Syndrome!
While it’s sad, difficulty with conversations can creep at all stages of relationships. Kids often use up all their parents’ mental and emotional resources. Careers, activities, and daily living take up a lot of time. That leaves energy little left for the marriage. When you finally squeeze in time as a couple, you have too many life details to catch up on. It’s hard to talk about anything else.
Then the kids leave, and it’s a struggle to find anything to talk about.
Wise couples, couples who stay connected, make time to talk with one another about many topics. They carve out time to talk about topics other than the family, house, and jobs. Having deeper and broader discussions is vital to the happiness of the marriage.
When you started out, you knew each other well enough to predict how each of you would respond to most situations. And you knew what you were each thinking.
Over time, you both change. Change is good! Change means that you are growing and maturing as people. You don’t want to be married to that same 30 year old for the next 50 years. As you each change, your knowledge of each other starts to slightly off base. If you talk openly and curiously about your views on life, you will readjust what you know about each other. When you talk frequently, you will hardly even notice the changes.
You lose track of each other when you stop having deeper conversations. You disconnect from your partner’s ideas and views about life. You stop feeling known or seen.
- Your marriage grows stale.
- You both feel irritated and agitated by little things.
- You move into Roommate Syndrome.
- A relationship crisis develops.
You don’t want any of these.
We tell ourselves that it happens by chance, that it’s normal to fall out of love, or we chose the wrong partner.
The truth is that you can avoid most of these problems by making space to know your partner well. The best way to do this is to open-heartedly share your thoughts on a variety of topics with each other. As you did at the beginning of your relationship.
When you see the silence and disconnection start to set in, you vow to change things. You attack the problem by scheduling a date. Then, the date falls apart (see Date Night Arguments). You are dismayed that you have nothing to say to one another.
This doesn’t have to be a crisis. Instead, this is a problem you can solve. Conversations Questions bridge the gap and get you talking again. Conversation Questions are open-ended questions that cover a range of topics. They are specifically designed to stimulate discussions. They challenge you to talk about topics that you covered at the beginning. As well as subjects that you never thought to ask.
Conversation Questions are the beginning of a conversation.
You can find these types of questions in several places. In fact, I release a new set of Conversation Questions every week in the free Facebook Date Night Community. You can also have them delivered to your email inbox every week by signing up for the weekly Date Night Digest. Beyond that, they are available in card decks, books, and Google searches.
- Questions that explore who you are. These cover silly topics, childhood stories, and how you are thinking about the world. They help you to feel seen, heard, and known by your partner. They build the feeling of connection and break down feelings of loneliness.
- Questions that explore and grow your relationship. These examine what is working well, and what you want or need to change. They walk you through a process for living better together.
Both types of questions are vital for vibrancy in your relationship.
This type of talking makes it possible to truly KNOW your partner and feel KNOWN. That is the most powerful way to grow together over the years.
Sometimes, one of you will shut down when you try to engage in deeper conversations. This often happens when one of you is judgmental or critical. It is hard to hear that your partner thinks differently than you do. The fix is to be curious and to accept what they say as what they truly feel. If this problem persists, read “My Partner Refuses To Talk About Problems (How to Fix This)” for more solutions.
I want to save you from the pain of feeling unseen by your partner. It always leads to disappointment, loneliness, irritability, and ultimately, relationship crises.
Creating time for meaningful and deep conversations is a good relationship habit to develop. It saves you from having to do big clean up jobs when problems compound over years.