After months or years together, you may think you know everything there is to know about your partner or spouse. You know that he hates olives and is finally becoming friends with his dad. Or that she loves classic movies and was a soccer star in high school. But there’s still a lot you probably don’t know. I’m not referring to skeletons in their closet or deep, dark secrets. I’m referring to the kinds of things that made your partner who they are—life-changing events or amusing anecdotes that shaped their beliefs and personality
. Knowing your wife played varsity soccer star is one thing; knowing how she came to play the sport is quite another.
Asking great questions is the key to unlocking the ongoing mystery behind what makes your partner tick.
Reflect on your most recent dinner dates. Chances are your conversations were filled with talk about work, the kids, finances, and all the things you must do before the in-laws come next weekend. Now, think back to the conversations you had when you first met. Chances are they were more novel and stimulating. You probably talked about your most significant memories, your dreams and goals, and maybe when you lost your virginity. You lost track of time and leaned in a little closer.
Not only do such novel conversations help you understand your partner better. They’re also essential for maintaining a healthy long-term relationship. Stimulating conversation can renew your attraction, remind you that your sweetheart is your primary source of joy and play, increase your level of commitment, and even improve your sex life.
Novel conversations often happen by chance, but they don’t have to. You can promote them with the right questions—and below are 29. Obviously, you can’t ask all of them on a single date and expect 29 separate meaningful conversations. So choose a few and save the rest for another time. Also, your long-term love isn’t expecting an interrogation or fact-finding mission—integrate your questions into normal conversation, and show genuine interest:
- Which teacher had the biggest influence on your life?
- What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
- If you could go back in time, what year would you travel to?
- What was your favorite toy or game growing up?
- What's the craziest event you've ever witnessed?
- What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
- If you had a superpower, even for just one day, what would it be?
- If you could go back in time, what is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
- If you could have been a child prodigy what would you have wanted your skill to be?
- What is your favorite thing about the town where you live?
- What was your favorite food when you were a kid?
- If you could stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?
- If you could witness any event—past, present or future—what would it be?
- If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
- What would you title the autobiography of your life?
- What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
- Would you want to know the exact day of your death?
- What happened the time in your life when you were the most nervous to do something?
- What do you think is the most important invention in history?
- Who would win a fight—Chuck Norris or Jack Bauer?
- If you could steal one thing, without consequences, what would it be?
- What was your favorite summer activity as a kid?
- If you were a ghost, where would you haunt?
- What kind of car did you wish you had when you were a kid?
- If you could breed two totally different animals together, what new animal would you create?
- What subject do you wish you had paid more attention to in school?
- Which do you think is more likely—extraterrestrials or ghosts?
- Is there anything you wish would come back into fashion?
- If you could learn one new skill, what would it be?
Use these questions to promote fun, thoughtful conversation that stimulates the feelings you had when you first realized your attraction. There will always be things about your partner you don’t know. Unlocking more of the mystery will enhance your understanding and appreciation of who they are, and make your relationship stronger.
Dr. Heidi Reeder is the author of COMMIT TO WIN: How to Harness the Four Elements of Commitment to Reach Your Goals (2014, Hudson Street Press/Penguin), available at Amazon.com and wherever books are sold.
She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and at www.heidireeder.com.