When you’ve been in a long-term relationship with your partner, it’s easy to run out of things to say. Let's face it, “How was your day, dear?” might not cut it anymore, because in reality, most days are a bit mundane, maybe even pretty crappy at worst. That’s why you need interesting things to talk to your partner about to help keep the two of you interested — and invested — in each other.
Ironically, what consumes most of your day (i.e. kids and work) are the two things you should probably steer clear from talking about, experts advise. “Things stay interesting when you spice it up,” Toni Coleman, LCSW, a psychotherapist, tells Romper. “When you do this through conversation, avoid falling into the habit of discussions that focus only on household/family needs, problems with kids, and complaints at work.” Sheesh, what else is there to talk about, then? As it turns out, a lot, even though it's easier said than done.
On the somewhat rare occasion that we are outside the house (gasp) sans children, my hubby and I try really hard not to talk about the kids — I'm talking Herculean efforts not to mention our offspring. But with four of them, someone always has something going on and they're such an easy topic to fall back on, and that means our conversations can feel like we're at a parent/teacher conference.
If you need some guidance on what to bring up with your partner the next time you're alone, let this list of topics to talk to your partner about keep things fresh, fun, and interesting between the two of you.
1. Vacation Plans
This is a biggie for me and my sweetie. There’s something about talking about an upcoming vacay that I find extremely relaxing. It’s almost like the foreplay before the nookie, if you know what I mean. It allows both of us to dream, and I’ve already started creating a vision board for our trip to Greece next year (Mamma Mia! tour included!).
2. Your Work Goals
Sure, this kind of falls into the work-related category, especially if your goals are office-oriented. But talking about work can be interesting, especially if you’re contemplating a career change, considering going back to school to increase your earnings potential, or if you’re up for a promotion at your current job. Since you’re working towards a goal, it makes work convos more motivational — and less monotonous.
3. Current Events
No, this isn’t social studies class, but rather a way to create a new topic of conversation for you both to discuss. “Introduce a new idea by sharing something cool you read about in the ... newspaper or online,” says Coleman. “All of these fall under intellectual chemistry, which is when we turn one another on through conversation and the inspiration of new ideas.”
4. The Holidays
The smell of PSLs are in the air, which means that we’re in the throes of the holiday season now. But before you begin dragging out the skeletons and witches, why not speak with your partner about how they’d like to celebrate (even if you usually take the reins on planning and executing)? Perhaps this is the year you opt to go away for Thanksgiving as a family rather than have to referee fights around the turkey table? Thinking of things in new ways (like the holidays) can create not just eye-opening conversations, but new traditions, too.
5. Your Family Goals
Yes, kids are off-limits when it comes time to have some adult conversation. Thing is, you can discuss family goals as a way to motivate you and your honey. It might be to turn your home into an Airbnb and travel Europe a short or extended time with your kids. Just make sure that the family topics on the table go beyond signing school permission slips and who’s packing the kids’ lunches.
6. Embarrassing Situations
To this day, my partner and I will talk about the time when we went through a KFC drive-thru, and, well, chaos ensued. It’s become a prized family memory, and when we speak about it, we always laugh and it brings us back to that time. Sharing embarrassing situations creates a camaraderie between the two of you, and will bring about better bonding, too. Guaranteed you and your partner have a few embarrassing moments of your own to share, whether they occurred before you met or yesterday in office restroom.
7. Your Feelings
If you’ve been with your partner for some time, surely you’ve been storing up some stuff that you’d like to share at some point. And since getting things off your chest can help you feel better, take some time to express yourself. It might unlock the door to a deeper conversation and relationship.
8. Your Bucket List
Whether you call it a bucket list or a life list (glass half full), having a list of the things you would like to do in this lifetime is fun. It can motivate you to do things differently and perhaps explore more together. So jump in that hot air balloon, or visit a cranberry bog as a family this fall.
9. Your Political Views
No matter which side of the aisle you sit on, there’s no denying that today’s political climate is kind of rivaling a telenovela for its dramatic content. So why not chat talk about what’s going on and your stance on it?
10. Your Relationship
Check in with your partner to assess your relationship, even if everything seems to be fine. I call it the State of the Union address (see what I did there?), and I do this every so often with my guy to make sure that we’re both feeling good, happy, valued, loved, and respected in our relationship. But be warned—sometimes the convo can quickly uncover some underlying issues, which is good so you can address them.
11. Your Secrets
You don’t have to divulge your deepest, darkest secrets to your partner — that is, unless you want to. “The secret can be something silly or serious, depending on your conversation,” say Suzie and James Pawelski, husband/wife co-authors of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts. “What’s important is the ongoing sharing with your partner because not only does it keep things fresh, it also builds intimacy.”
12. Childhood Memories
After so many years together, it’s almost like a treat when my husband shares a memory that I’ve never heard before. Like, I didn’t find out until last year that his dad had served in Vietnam. It opened a whole new avenue of conversation that we had never had before. It’s rediscovering each other all over again, which is interesting, and honestly exciting.
13. Your Partner’s Viewpoint
I’m a “Give me a problem and I’ll give you a solution” kind of gal. But sometimes there are issues that stump me and I can use some guidance. My go-to is my guy, who is fair, supportive, but honest enough to give me the truth when I need it. And while it’s not a complaining sesh, it’s a good way of hearing another person’s opinion — the person who matters the most to you.
You may know without even thinking what your honey wants to have for dinner, but do you know where he’d like to retire in the future? “Asking a hypothetical question can be a great subject for conversations, since it allows you to explore more deeply,” says Sonnenberg. That way, you’ll know if your future holds a lake house or a beach house.
This is a fun way to revisit a past memory, vacation, or shared event. Essentially, it’s your rose/thorn: ask your partner what was the best part of, say, apple picking this year (i.e. the weather was beautiful), and what was the worst part (the bees!), or a recent trip. You might be surprised at some of the answers you get!
16. Conversations That Don’t End In A Fight
Let’s face it — we know which topics can trigger an interesting discussion, and which ones will have you sleeping in separate rooms. “Try not to have conversations about which one of your friends your partner thinks is the hottest,” advises Sonnenberg. "It's not going to end well." Amen.
17. Talk About Weekend Plans
You don’t have to wait a year (or longer) to talk about exciting plans for the future, like a vacation. Start with Saturday and Sunday and talk about what you can do together that weekend. But be sure to make it more about fun — and less about running errands and never-ending to-do’s. It’ll spark an excitement that can sustain you through the week, and keep the conversation (and connection) going.
18. Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
Between the demands of work and kids, your sex life might have taken a hit. So the last thing you might want to do is talk about is your lackluster sex life, but you should. “Many couples avoid talking about sex, desire, fantasy, or longings,” Dr. Julie Quimby, a psychologist, tells Romper. “This can be difficult if the relationship lacks safety, but to increase play and fun in your marriage, try sharing a sexual fantasy you have about your partner.” So talk to your partner not just about his needs, but yours as well, and schedule some much-needed adults only time together.
19. Topics That Don’t Require Complaining
Complaining about something (even something fun) can suck the joy right out of it. So while it might not be its own subject matter, recognizing that you’re complaining (and then trying not to do it) can help keep positive energy flowing when you do sit down to chat with your significant other, Inc. reported. “When you’re talking to your partner, use positive body language to encourage them to feel comfortable and more trusting of you,” Tiffany Lee, a relationship expert, tells Romper.
20. What If’s
Asking “what if” questions can be a cool way to learn something new about your mate. You might want to ask, “What if you won the lottery/” or “What if the manager you loathe left the job?” “These types of questions can create a playfulness in the relationship that you usually have in early dating stages,” Babita Spinelli, LP, a relationship coach, tells Romper.
And that’s the point. Your conversations with your partner shouldn’t always be a check-in on who’s picking which kid up from school or what time you’re getting home from the office. Rather, they should be a way to reconnect with each other and hopefully allow you to see your partner in a new and loving light.
Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC, internationally known psychotherapist, relationship coach, and founder of http://consum-mate.com.
Suzie and James Pawelski, husband/wife co-authors of Happy Together: Using the Science of Positive Psychology to Build Love That Lasts.
Julie Quimby, Ph.D., psychologist and founder/clinical director, Psychology Specialists of Maine
Tiffany Lee, relationship expert
Babita Spinelli, LP, relationship coach