And if discussion is just too uncomfortable, each partner can write down his or her answers, and then swap (or not), or the willing partner can simply keep a journal of answers. Giving language to these feelings in any form can be beneficial.
Isn't this a little scary? What if these questions uncover something we don't want to hear?
Let's face it: Our partner is going to disappoint us, make us mad, even bore us! It pays to find a way to discuss our feelings with both honesty and kindness. Better to talk now than to wait until someone gets really mad or becomes numb. The point is to create an atmosphere where differences and fears surface in a way that creates more intimacy instead of less. Be brave.
The Hard Questions
1. What have you learned to appreciate about me that you didn’t know when we first married? (Or first became a couple.)
2. What have you learned that irritates, upsets or frightens you?
3. Are you satisfied with the amount of time we spend together? The amount of time we spend separately?
4. Have we had any major life shocks? If so, what did we learn about ourselves, each other, our relationship?
5. What dreams or expectations did we have about married life? Which have been fulfilled and which have not?
6. What have I given up for you? How do I feel about it?
7. What have you given up for me? How do you feel?
8. At what times have we felt happiest together?
9. Is our sexual connection satisfying to you? To me?
10. How do we manage when desire levels differ? [Note: “Though this is a very real and common issue, it’s very difficult to discuss,” says Piver. “Still, it’s worth acknowledging such differences if they exist.”]
11. Where are you feeling content in your life? Our life?
12. How much money do we have now? How much did we think we would have at this point?
13. How much money do we wish we had? How much do we want in five years? Ten years? Are we planning for retirement?
14. How much is each of us contributing to our financial health? (In dollars, or otherwise.) Is each person’s contribution acceptable to the other?