Talking is one of the most powerful tools you have in your relationship. Regular discussions ensure that your relationship will continue to grow over time. There are other ways of relating to one another, but talking is the best for collaboration and coordination.
- You have the best possibility of knowing one another deeply.
- You can set goals that you both want.
- When you meet those goals, you live a better life.
Wondering why you don’t spend more time talking? Read here.
A key indicator of the health of your relationship is 1) how often you talk with one another, and 2) the quality of your discussions. To get the most out of talking, you must talk about more than your jobs, house, family, and the schedule. It is important to talk about deeper issues that help you to know how your partner is thinking about the world.
When you regularly talk with your partner, it gives you confidence that the relationship will stay on solid ground for many years. When you talk about all sorts of topics, you know when your partner is growing and changing.
Having a yearly discussion helps you stay up to date on their thoughts. Many couples need to talk about some of these topics even more frequently than yearly so their relationship will run smoothly.
- You will head off problems before they get big.
- You can improve your collaboration.
- You can reaffirm the relationship.
- You will feel more like a team.
- You can learn from the past.
There are specific topics that a couple is wise to talk about at least yearly. You may want to add other topics that are also relevant for your relationship. You need to check in on the agreements that you made in the past and learn how they need renegotiation.
It is important to celebrate the things you are doing well and to improve on the areas where things are not running smoothly. For some couples, this is also about reaffirming their commitment to continuing the relationship. Some questions you might ask are:
- As a couple, what are we doing well in the relationship?
- What are your favorite times in our relationship? What makes them special?
- What do I regularly do that makes you happy?
- As a couple, what are the ways we are coasting or letting one another down?
- Where are the holes in our communication and how to do we fix them?
- What problems are likely to get bigger if we ignore them?
- How are we doing with affection, intimacy, and sex?
- What do we need to change to continue growing together?
- How can we focus more on fun and feeling close?
Money is one of the hardest areas for couples to talk about, especially if they think about money differently. Usually, one partner views money as a tool to gain security while the other sees money as a tool to live a better life. When you work as a team around money, it reduces the burden on each of you and you join forces to meet common goals. Some questions you might ask are:
- What is our financial status? Where is our money currently going?
- What do we need to do differently in the future to take the pressure off our finances?
- How well are we balancing financial security and fun?
- Where do we want our finances in five years and at retirement? What do we need to do differently now to achieve those?
- What financial stresses can we expect and plan for?
Couples who set goals together have a built-in support system to help them meet those goals. Talking about the future is an opportunity to dream together about how you want your lives to look. This is important so you both feel confident that your life will turn out the way you want it to. Some questions you might ask are:
- What are you looking forward to in the next year?
- What do you wish you were better at? Is that something we can work towards together?
- What are the things you are worried about?
- How do you want your life and our life together to be different in one year? Five years? Ten years? In retirement?
No one wants to think about how things could go wrong. Many couples only talk about these situations at the beginning of the relationship, or not at all. It’s easy to assume that your partner wants exactly what you want if you don’t talk about it. The way you answer these questions will change over time, so it is important to check in every year. That way, if the unexpected happens, you won’t have to deal with the shock plus the uncertainty of what to do. Here are some sample questions to start with:
- If something happens to you, what are your wishes? How do you feel about being on life support or a DNR?
- What do you usually take care of that I would need to know if you were suddenly incapacitate?
- If there were a disaster and we couldn’t communicate the way we usually do, how would we reconnect?
- Do you have any special requests if you die suddenly?
There are going to be other questions that apply to your specific situation. Some couples treat this more like a business meeting where they list the questions important to them and keep a notebook with the important answers. Then they can follow their progress from year to year and see their accomplishments. You don’t have to be that formal, but there has to be a trigger to start these conversations.