Do you ask these questions?!
When it comes to connecting with the partner we love, we all try to communicate well in our relationship. We know that good communication is essential to maintaining a happy, strong marriage. We also understand that keeping things positive reduces the amount of conflict couples experience.
But wanting to communicate well and actually doing so are two different things.
So, how much time should a "normal," happily married couple spend talking and interacting on a daily basis? One study from the UK found that as time goes by, couples aren't spending anywhere near enough time communicating in a meaningful way.
And, what makes communication "meaningful?" Well, strong connection with a long-term partner requires syncing up on many different (and deeper) levels, not just chit-chatting about the minutia of your day-to-day. To that end, here are 10 powerful questions to ask your spouse often to help deepen your connection and love for each other:
1. "How are you doing today?"
Not, "what" are you doing ... but, truly, "how" are you doing? Take time to ask this question and look your spouse directly in the eye while asking. If you think there's something going on that she needs to talk about, touch her on the arm or shoulder as you ask the question, or touch her softly on the face and tell her, "I really want to know how you're doing."
2. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"
You see that your spouse is busy, hurried, and/or experiencing some frustration with getting everything done. Ask this question and be ready to take action on any request he has for help. If you live with someone who tends to do it all on his own, touch him and look him in the eyes and say, "I really want to help you with this, what can I do?"
3. "What's important to you?"
When you know your spouse is trying to make an important decision, ask her this question. Another way to ask it is, "What do you really want?" To understand your spouse’s thinking and her needs, it's necessary to know her heart-felt answer to this question. Asking it invites her to think through and talk about what she values most.
4."What would you like to do?"
This is a question you ask during free time, when planning a date, going out to eat or on when discussing deeper level goals and direction in life. Another way to ask this is: "If you could do anything you wanted, what would that be?" You know your spouse's major goals and dreams, so work with him to see how to make his wants, desires and aspirations possible.
5. "How can I encourage you?"
This question is especially important to ask when you know your spouse is going through a difficult or frustrating time. Perhaps it's a challenge your spouse is facing alone, or it could be a life obstacle you're facing together. Find out what your spouse needs to feel nurtured and supported at this time, and then do that for her as much as you can.
6. "What goals would you like to set for us, and for yourself?"
If every day feels like too much, you should at least ask and seriously discuss this question every few months. Think about several areas when you talk about this question including: career, family, wealth or possessions, friendships, your marriage, self-development (skills, hobbies or education) and don’t forget to think about mental and spiritual growth.
7. "Are you happy with where our relationship is going?"
Again, perhaps too much to ask daily, but this is an important question that every couple should discuss at least annually. Review how things have been going between you two over the past few months and determine any mid-course corrections you need to make so that your relationship stays healthy and fulfilling.
8. "What is your biggest fear?"
This not a question that you often think to ask, but it's important to know her answer. The world we live in has changed tremendously in the past two decades, and there are dangers everywhere. Know what concerns are nagging at your spouse and be open to having a conversation about those worries (even if you don't feel concerned about the same things). Whether it's about a project at work, a conversation with a family member, or the state of global affairs, know what scares your partner so you can help ease her fears.
9. "What makes you feel the most happy?"
Life is not always fun. In fact, we spend much of our time doing "our job," either at work or at home. Make sure that you're both getting a "pay off" for all of your hard work and effort.
Be involved in the things that bring happiness to each of you. The things that bring the greatest happiness can change depending on your stage in life, so don’t be surprised when something new moves to the top of the list.
10. "What do you want out of our life together?"
This question can involve short-term and long-term goals, objectives and desires. Take the time to know what those are for your spouse and give his goals the attention they deserve. Your efforts to make his ideal life a reality will help motivate your spouse to prioritize your goals, objectives and desires, as well.
Dr. David McFadden is a couples counselor at Village Counseling Center. Receive your free copy of the Better Life magazine, filled with articles with topics from taking good care of yourself to resolving conflicts in your relationship and discovering how to have success in your life.