Think about the last conversation you had with your partner. Was it about work, your finances, the kids, upcoming obligations, or something similarly, well, flat? If you answered yes, then it may be time to change the subject. True, happily married couples talk about all of the above, but they also make a point to regularly engage in dynamic discussions that dig a little deeper.
If you've ever heard of the "daily dialogue" used in Retrouvaille, a faith-based marriage program that focuses on establishing healthy communication skills, then you're familiar with the benefits that are said to come from regularly scheduled discussions between partners. For the uninitiated, the gist is that a strengthened bond and marriage will result from these daily check-ins.
Do you need to be of a certain religion to benefit from the daily dialogue concept? Not at all. Here's how to put it to work in your marriage.
What questions should we ask?
Coming up with questions can be intimidating, but a simple internet search should be all that's needed to get the conversation started. For example:
You can set some typical dialogue questions about each other's daily experiences to start the conversation between the two of you.
- How do you feel about today?
- What made you feel good today?
- What did you learn today?
- Did you meet any new person or see someone you hadn't in a long while?
- What made you think differently today?
How well do you know your spouse?
No matter how long you have been together, there are always more things to learn about one another.
- What do we, as a couple, want out of life?
- What do you think we'll be doing in 10 or 20 years?
- How would you describe yourself?
- How do you think I see you?
- What's your ideal way to spend a day off?
- What's your favorite childhood memory? Grade-school memory? High school memory?
- What do you most admire about your parents and want to emulate? Your grandparents?
- What was the best date we ever had?
- What actor or actress should portray you in the story of your life?
You may even go back to a list of questions to ask each other before getting married. It's never too late to open the lines of communication about the really important issues. You may or may not have fully discussed the deal breaker issues before you got married — think children, money, sex, religion, fidelity, abuse, addictions, chores, and in-laws. Most of these need to reviewed regularly as views will change as a person matures and new factors, such as children, a new job, or moving to a new location, come into play.
What are our dreams and future plans?
If you want to steer away from heavy questions, it can be both entertaining and enlightening to discuss dream scenarios.
- If you hadn't gone into your current profession (and salary wasn't a factor), which one would be ideal?
- If we won $10,000, how would we spend it? What would we do $1,000,000?
- What's your dream vacation?
- What's your sexual fantasy?
- What three places would you most like to visit?
- What kind of house or apartment would be ideal for us in the next five years? What would be best when we have an empty nest?
- What would your death-row last meal be? If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- What five things would you want to have when stranded on a deserted island?
- What three wishes would you ask for from a genie?
- What new hobby would you like to take up?
Tips for a successful daily dialogue.
- If things are difficult between the two of you, keep the questions positive and try not to tackle tough subjects. Questions centering on what attracted you to one another, the best date you ever had, what a dream vacation would be, what quality you like best about your spouse, and so on will work just fine. Positive questions are important in order to help you focus on what is going well in your relationship. A major goal of the dialogue is to speak about to good going on, not just problems.
- Remember the purpose of dialogue is to help you understand your spouse's feelings. It's not to change one another or to manipulate one another. Each dialogue question should be written so you discover how one another feels and not just how you both think.Then try to understand and accept one another as you are.
- Separations due to business travel are a challenge. Many couples use the same question for each day they are apart, something like "How do I feel today?" or "What were my feelings today?" Once together, you can read all the letters from your time apart, and the dialogue on the feelings you have after reading the letters. Other couples dialogue via email, Facetime, Skype, or text.
- Have a couple favorite questions to fall back on when finding the right one is difficult. "How do I feel about today?" is a standard dialogue question.
- Make the dialogue a new ritual in your relationship. Rituals help keep your marriage strong and healthy.