"We have nothing to talk about anymore." "We don't have anything in common." "I know everything about him/her." These are all things we hear from couples who seem to have lost the ability to truly communicate with each other in meaningful ways.
If you and your spouse sit over dinner and stare at your phones, or struggle to talk about random things that have happened, don't be discouraged - this is life as we know it. It's sometimes easy to think that if we aren't always having stimulating and engaging conversations with our spouse, that we are lacking in love. That kind of false thinking leads to emotional affairs and more.
There is most likely nothing wrong with your relationship other than the fact that you aren't as intentional about communicating as you used to be. Life happens, and as time marches on you know more and more about your spouse, and may feel that you have less and less to talk about.
Now, it is usually the case that one of the spouses, either the husband or wife, has a greater need to connect through communication than the other. That spouse is also probably the one that worries the most about the quality of conversations that are being had in the relationship. So, one frank suggestion would be to take the 5 Love Languages quiz together (like today) and learn more about how each of you feel and receive love.
If one of you is craving communication and the other is fine with where things are at, things will be at a lack-luster. And vice versa, if someone is craving physical touch and the other is fine with where things are at, that just isn't going to cut it. So learn about each other - your likes and dislikes, your needs and frustrations. If just one of you feels a need for deeper communication, then this article is for you. However, no matter your love language, learning to talk to your spouse again will invite romance, adventure, and novelty into your marriage. And those are the kinds of things that every marriage needs.
Here are fifteen ideas that will help you learn to talk to your spouse again!
1. Become a more interesting person.
If you feel like conversation is lacking, then take this as a challenge to become a more interesting person. You don't have to just talk about money, kids, aging, extended family or work. Choose one or two things that you have always been interested in and make an effort to learn more (For example, I really, really want to learn everything there is to know about clouds, I just need to make the time to learn!). Set a goal to read up on something daily and then to share what you learned with your spouse.
2. Be interested in what your spouse is talking about.
If your spouse wants to tell you about something they read or learned, be interested. Don't just sit on your phone, or zone out, or nod. Ask questions. Here is the challenge - ask at least 6 questions (think who, what, when, where, why, how questions) about what they are telling you. Be involved, engaged, and interested in what they have to share. It may be forced and fake interest at first, but with time, genuine interest will come. Just think of it - you are honing your listening skills, and that my friend, is important to a healthy and happy marriage.
3. Ask probing questions.
It's dinner time and you and your spouse are catching up on each other's days. You can ask, "How was your day?" and your spouse may respond by saying, "Fine," or "Stressful," and if you don't ask anymore questions, that will be the end of the conversation and you will miss out on learning all about your spouse's day. Ask probing questions like, "What projects did you work on today?" "How did you figure that out?" "Who did you talk to today?" "What were the most interesting parts of the day?" "What made you bored today?" "Why does it always have to work like that?" etc.
4. Learn to give good answers.
Now, this will take some thought and discipline for the spouse who doesn't love to talk, but it is important. You have to learn to respond with more than one-word answers. You have to learn the magic art of storytelling - though in your own style and way. If you struggle knowing what to say about your day, think back through your day and then start describing every little detail - things you did, people you talked to, things you read, thoughts you had, etc. It will make for fascinating and interesting conversation - which will immediately help you and your spouse to feel more connected and close.
5. Take turns talking and asking questions.
Now, if there is one "talker," in your marriage, and it happens to be YOU - then learn to take turns talking and asking questions. You don't have to dominate the conversation, or talk just because there is silence. Learn to find a balance and to have a little give and take in your communication as husband and wife.
6. Love what your spouse loves.
If your spouse has been particularly interested in something lately (think snakes), then choose to be proactive about learning more about what they love. It will give you loads to talk about. And don't get all selfish and expect your spouse to do the same for you, just fall in love with what they love. I, for one, know that if I keep up on ESPN news, I will be a much more fascinating wife to talk to over dinner. Just saying.
7. Learn new things together.
One of the best ways to learn how to talk to your spouse again is to make an effort to learn new things together. Together, the two of you ought to occasionally take a class, pick up a hobby, or read books and articles either out loud to each other, or side by side. Then discuss what you are learning about. Practice and time, my friends, will help you both become excellent conversationalists.
8. Create projects to do together.
Maybe you are going to re-tile the bathroom floor, or run a bake sale for your church together, whatever it is - create projects where the two of you have to share lots of time and space together, and where you are busy working with your hands (if possible). Why? This lends to conversation. When you are working on something together, it just seems more natural to have conversations about all kinds of things, without anything feeling forced. So pay attention to the time you are spending together and what you do during that time.
9. Be okay talking about normal, prosaic stuff.
There is nothing wrong with talking about the bills, your trip to the Dr., something the neighbor kid did, what happened to your own kid at school, or a frustrating situation at work. In fact, talking about your REAL life (though it may seem a bit boring at times) is the best way to connect. However, it is these very real conversations that can also become frustrating if either of you get critical or don't see eye to eye on things (that is when it's important to remember how to talk about hard things in positive ways. You've got this.).
10. Be okay with silence.
Life has ebbs and flows. Some nights you will have a lot to talk about with your spouse, and other nights you won't. That is life. That is normal. And sometimes silence is the best thing for a relationship. Sitting side by side, thinking, reading or doing your own thing can nurture a marriage simply because you are together. So, don't lose hope and be discouraged if some moments in your relationship are more quiet than others. Just cherish the silence.
11. Be vulnerable.
Don't be afraid to bring something up in conversation just because you don't want your spouse to respond in a negative way. If you had a rough conversation with an extended family member on the phone that day, don't be afraid to bring it up. If you are struggling with something privately, don't be afraid to bring it up. Talk out your emotions, your feelings, your frustrations and your fears.
12. Become an empathetic listener.
If your spouse opens up to you about a problem they are facing or something they are struggling with, then don't be quick to give advice to try and fix things. And please don't criticize them or get mad. Instead, put on your "counselor" hat and become an empathetic listener. Ask questions, listen, and just be understanding, encouraging and present. These kinds of conversations really connect couples on deeper levels, and help them learn to work through real issues in life and in marriage.
13. Disconnect from virtual reality for awhile.
Sometimes when we spend so much time online via social media, sports, gaming, or other things, we end up living in a virtual reality and we lose our ability to connect in person - one on one. So, take a break from the virtual world for a time. Have a smartphone fast for a day, or a week, and see if it doesn't help you connect more to real life and to the real people around you.
14. Find ways to compliment your spouse during your normal conversations.
As you and your spouse get better and better at talking together, don't miss the opportunity to compliment your spouse mid-conversation like you used to do when you were dating. If you are listening to your spouse share something about his or her day or life, then take the moment at the end of what they were saying to express your thoughts, "Man, your blue eyes still make me melt," or, "Wow, I'm impressed with how you handled that. You really are such a thoughtful person." Taking moments in conversation to point out what you love about your spouse will go a long way in helping you two to feel more in love again.
15. Don't forget the power of humor.
Maybe you are a funny person, maybe not, but you can find humor in your life and in the stories you share with your spouse. Learn to laugh together over things you say or share. See the light side of things. If you really struggle finding things to laugh about, take time occasionally to find jokes or funny clips online to share with each other in person, and then just laugh together over silly things. There is power in laughing with your spouse - it brings you closer together and creates positive, happy feelings and memories.
Now, you don't have to try all of those suggestions at once, but give one or two of them a try this week and see if they don't help you feel like you have more to talk about with your spouse then you thought. Happy talking!
Photo Credit: Jason Corey Photography
"What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility."
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