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:
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.
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.