Remember the early days of dating when conversation sparked like fireworks across the restaurant table? You’d spend hours on the phone getting to know each other and talking about everything profound, trivial, and in between.
Now phone calls are transactional, and ‘sweet nothings’ have been replaced by reminders to get milk.
While you may be mourning the heart-to-hearts and endless banter you shared when you were falling in love, what you’re experiencing isn’t abnormal. And the fact you’re no longer conversing with the frequency and curiosity you once did doesn’t mean your relationship is doomed.
Silence doesn’t always reflect tension, disconnection, or a loss of romance. A lot of the time, it can be blamed on good old-fashioned comfort or complacency.
If you’re looking to boost the back-and-forth between yourself and your partner, these tips might help.
Ask the Right Questions
If the go-to “How was your day?” isn’t yielding results beyond an unenthusiastic one-word answer, it might be time to try something new.
Try replacing basic ‘throwaway’ questions with more intentional and specific open-ended questions that get your partner thinking and excited to share. For example, instead of “How was your day?”, you could try “What was the highlight of your day?” or “What are you excited about at work at the moment?”.
Use your questions to focus on the positives. If you ask about the negatives, your partner may be more likely to give short answers or shut down.
Try New Things Together
If you feel like you have nothing to talk about in your relationship, why not do something new worth talking about? Shared experiences and hobbies are a great way to bond and create new topics of conversation.
You could discover some hiking trails, join a tennis club, try some new recipes, or replace TV time with board games once a week. Or you could get excited over a shared long-term project, such as renovating the house or planning an overseas trip for the future.
Finding shared interests can keep things fresh when the same-old conversation topics are getting stale.
Socialise in a Group
Let’s face it – when you live with someone long enough, it can be a struggle to come up with new and interesting things to say every day. Hanging out with another couple or group of friends can take the pressure off you to start a conversation with each other, and provide new perspectives and experiences.
Plus, it’ll give you something to talk about later. “Did you see John’s new dog?” “Yes – let’s adopt one!” Everyone’s a winner.
Do a Questionnaire
Questionnaires and conversation prompts are a great way to learn more about your partner. Pinterest and other websites offer lists of light-hearted or deep and meaningful questions to ask each other.
A few of our favourites include:
- What was your first impression of me?
- What’s at the top of your bucket list?
- What’s a movie, book, or song that has influenced your life?
- What was your dream job growing up?
- When do you feel most loved?
Practise Active Listening
We’re all guilty of half-heartedly holding a conversation while scrolling on our phone. But if you’ve made this a habit, your partner will likely feel ignored and unimportant, and may not bother trying to initiate interactions in the future.
These active listening skills can help you be present with your partner and make them feel understood:
- Maintain eye contact – This shows you’re giving your partner your attention and care about what they have to say.
- Signal encouragement – Minimal verbal and nonverbal responses such as a smile, nod, or “mhmm” can show you’re listening and encourage your partner to continue.
- Reflect content and emotion – Where natural and appropriate, expressing what your partner has told you back to them in your own words can show you’ve been listening, and gives them the opportunity to clarify if you’ve misunderstood. For example, “Wow, it sounds like you were really grateful to receive that recognition in front of your colleagues.”
- Ask follow-up questions – This is another great way to show you’ve been listening and encourage your partner to elaborate.
These skills can be used in all relationships – whether you’re on a date, in a work meeting, or visiting your parents. Using these skills with your loved one might make them more inclined to open up in future.
Stop overthinking things and just start talking. Tell your partner about the funny billboard you passed, the cute elderly couple you saw, or the new song you can’t get out of your head. It doesn’t have to be ground-breaking information – even if it seems small and trivial, you never know where the conversation might go.
RAQ offers relationship counselling to help couples improve their communication. Learn more about our counselling services and how to make an appointment here.
Learn what happens at relationship counselling in this article.