The first step to deepening your friendship is to know your spouse better by being aware of and learning their likes and dislikes, preferences, daily activities, hobbies, life dreams and history. You may have known each other well before your marriage and even through the first year or so after the wedding. But we all change over time. We face new challenges, try new things, and have reasons to change our opinions. But many couples quit making the effort to keep learning about their mate. You must stay curious and reconnect often in order to build the basis of your friendship.
So, your challenge is to take a few minutes each day to ask each other an open-ended question and really listen to the answer. Open-ended questions are ones that cannot be answered with just “yes” or “no” or a statement of fact. These are questions that call for some thought and require more detailed responses. But they are not meant to be threatening. If a question causes too much tension, move on to a different one.
You can ask your questions over a meal, or while you are on your way somewhere together, or even in a few minutes before bed. Make an effort to learn something new about your spouse every day. You will be amazed at how this will help you to think more positively about your spouse.
Here are just a few samples to get you started:
- What was your favorite childhood toy?
- Do you want our child to have a pet? How did having or not having a pet when you were young affect your opinion?
- What is one way I could show my love for you that I’m not doing or not doing enough?
- What is your fantasy vacation?
- Who is the most stressful person in your life? Why?
- What was the best part of your day?
Now there’s just one warning about this exercise. Do not use this as an opportunity to hurt or reprimand your mate. Do not start an argument because of what you hear. If the answer makes you uncomfortable, think about it for a while. Perhaps you need to ask some more questions to understand better. You may need to apologize for something you did or said. You may want to change the way you do something. Let your spouse know you heard what they said and are willing to talk some more or to make adjustments.
If you saw your spouse withdraw when you asked your questions, think about why that might be. You may need to soften your approach and not ask your questions like an interrogator, but with a twinkle in your eye. Observe how he responds to other’s questions. Maybe he is uncomfortable talking about himself and his background. He may not have vocabulary for emotions. Try asking questions that are less emotional, yet still give you a window into what makes him tick.
You may have to adjust your timing, location, or activity for talking. Make whatever adjustments you need to make, because building your understanding and friendship are vital to the health of your marriage.
I’m sure many of you had fun with the questions. Keep them up and get more creative as you practice this skill. Asking questions like these may take some practice, but every couple can benefit from the renewed understanding that develops.
For another exercise to build your knowledge and understanding of your spouse, try the Mini Love Map Game at the StayMarriedBlog.com