When you and your honey were first dating, you couldn't stop talking about everything under the sun, and few subjects were off limits: goals, dreams, religion, favorite Game of Thrones house. But after a few years of marriage and a kid or two, things change. Suddenly, your couple conversations sound something like: "Did you remember to bring home the orange juice?" or "You won't believe the atomic poop the baby had today." Thrilling, right? To reclaim your relationship, you'll need to start having weird conversations again, psychologists say.
Weird? You bet. More than the run-of-the-mill "how was your day" or "what should we have for dinner" talks, odd conversations help build the intimacy between couples that's vital for the health of a marriage, experts say. "Connecting through conversation is integral to any relationship, and our questions often determine the quality of that engagement," explained relationship counselor Andy Reynolds, MSW, LCSW, on the Gottman Institute website.
UC Berkeley professor Arthur Aron, long fascinated by what keeps couples close, created a list of questions to spark intimacy. These, and similar questions, work because they invite the other person to open up and reveal a bit of their inner self; being vulnerable enough to share is what helps bring people close. The questions are also open-ended, which is also important, Reynolds said; asking "why" and "how" instead of "do you" and "did you" elicits longer and more interesting answers.
Looking to expand your conversations beyond the mundane? Try one of these fun intimacy-starters and watch how spilling the tea can bring you and your spouse closer together.
The Quick Life Story Conversation
One of Aron's fun intimacy questions, according to The New York Times: "Tell me your life story in four minutes with as many details as possible!" The highlights your spouse includes will tell you a lot about how they feel about themselves and what they consider their biggest accomplishments. Then be prepared to tell your own tale.
The Bucket List Conversation
Finding out what your SO wants to accomplish can tell you a lot about them — and help launch a discussion of how to get those items checked off. If your partner has always wanted to visit Australia, you could start reading travel guides and putting together a travel fund. If the items are a little more unrealistic (playing in the Super Bowl, say), you could get your honey talking about why this is a goal of theirs. YourTango explained that creating a couples' bucket list together can help you grow both individually and as a team.
The Gratitude Conversation
Asking "What are the three (or insert your own number here) things you're grateful for?" will give you a sense of your spouse's priorities, according to Lemonade. In turn, you can share the things you're thankful for, and even suggest making a "gratitude jar" to which you both could add an item every day. At the end of the year, open it and watch the blessings flow!
The Fantasy Conversation
Psychologist Nikki Martinez suggested to Bustle that couples ask each other, "What is your fantasy?" It doesn't have to be about sex (although that's a fun conversation, too!); maybe you've always dreamed of singing on The Voice, opening your own business, digging wells in third-world countries, or retiring to a quaint farm in Vermont. You might discover that your fantasies are very similar, or widely different. Either way, you'll be fascinated.
The Lottery Conversation
Who hasn't dreamed of coming into a huge sum of money? You probably have a good idea of what you'd do with a Mega Millions win, and so does your partner. Do your spending ideals mesh or clash? You could even have the conversation while watching My Lottery Dream Home, and discuss which mansions you'd buy if you had the opportunity. Talking about money is important to begin with, explained Forbes, and knowing each other's spending and savings styles will keep you connected.
The Memory Conversation
Our memories are part of what shapes us, so asking your spouse, "What's your favorite memory?" or "What's your worst memory ever?" will tell you a lot, according to Aron's intimate-questions list. You could follow up with, "What kinds of memories would you like us to make in the next few years?"
The "What Would You Change" Conversation
We all have regrets, but it's not always easy to admit to them. Ask your partner, "If you could change anything about your life today, what would it be?" or "What one thing about your past would you change?" Then you can follow up and find out the reasons behind that wish, and what they think would have happened if that aspect of their life hadn't happened. Relationship expert Dr. John Gottman explained on his site that "getting to know your spouse is a lifelong process," and it's important to check in regularly to stay connected.
The Hero Conversation
Are your heroes real or fictional? Living or long gone? It's easy to get a discussion going with your spouse about the people you most admire. Whether it's Spider-Man or Pope Francis, Shakespeare or Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eleanor Roosevelt or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or a relative or friend who has done inspiring things, you'll learn a lot about each other when you share. Aron included this in his list of questions to ask to reclaim intimacy, and it's a good one.
The Mutual Admiration Conversation
Aron suggested couples alternate listing the qualities they most like about each other. ("I admire your talent for art." "I love your patience with the kids.") If you've both been feeling unappreciated in your marriage lately, this is a nice way to remind yourselves of why you chose each other. Psychology Today added that it's vital to recognize your spouse's strengths as well as their weaknesses.
The Perfect Day Conversation
What would you and your partner do from dawn to midnight if time and money were no object? The possibilities are endless, and the two of you can have a fun time deciding what constitutes a perfect day for each of you. In the process, you might be surprised at what your sweetheart prefers...and think about how you might be able to make at least part of that ideal day come true. Marriage therapist Pat Love, Ed.D., told Reader's Digest that sharing hopes can bring couples closer together.
After a very frustrating first birth experience, this Deaf mother wanted a change. Will the help of two Deaf doulas give the quality communication and birth experience this mom wants and deserves? Watch Episode Four of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below, and visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes.