Are your conversations with your husband stale, awkward, or practically non-existent these days? Maybe you talk about the same things over and over because it’s “safe,” or you’ve just gotten stuck in a routine.
Regardless, you no longer feel as close to him as you used to. So, how do you get back to having normal, interesting discussions after work, on the couch, around the dinner table…or on a date?
In this episode of The Loving Truth podcast, you’ll learn why the interest has fizzled out when you try to talk to your spouse, why you need to show interest in each other’s interests, and how to put some pizzazz back in your conversations. I’ll also share a few questions you can use as starters to help re-spark curiosity in each other and your marriage.
Listen to the Full Episode:
What You’ll Learn In This Episode:
1:02 – Two reasons why you might struggle to feel close when speaking with your spouse
3:33 – The perspective that keeps curiosity intact in a long-term relationship
5:36 – Why you shy away from talking about the bad stuff (and why you shouldn’t)
7:58 – Two reasons why you’ll want to show interest in what your partner is interested in, even if you don’t share it
12:49 – Questions to help normalize conversation between you and your spouse when it starts to wane
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Welcome to The Loving Truth Podcast where it's all about finding clarity, confidence, and peace in the face of marriage challenges. And now your host, relationship expert, and certified master life coach, Sharon Pope.
Sharon Pope: Hello, loves. This is Sharon Pope and this is The Loving Truth. Today I want to talk to you about what you talk about, what you speak to your spouse about. Years ago, I wrote a blog post entitled “Do You and Your Spouse Only Talk About The Weather?” Because I felt like that was a telltale sign if the only thing that the two of you were ever talking about is the weather, alarm bells should be going off.
But also I've been hearing a lot lately, and it's not unusual that people will say to me, “If we didn't talk about kids, work, or the weather, if those were off limits, we would have nothing to talk about.” If you've ever thought that to yourself, then this podcast is going to be super helpful for you. I want you to think about when you were just dating and falling in love with one another, I promise you, you weren't just talking about work, the kids, and the weather. You weren't.
What are the things that you were talking about? Because the kids and work, that is not going to be what sustains your love and connection inside of a relationship. It’s not going to keep that love alive. Just like those are not the things you talked about when you were falling in love, these are not the things that you're going to be talking about if you want to sustain that love. We have to start thinking about what we talked to our partners about.
Now, the other thing that's at play here is that now oftentimes, our attention is elsewhere, usually in our phone. When we are always in our phone or distracted with work, our to-do lists, or what the kids need, all that kind of stuff, if we were that distracted when we were first dating, would we have ever walked down the aisle?
Think about it, if you would go out on a date and every time you were out on the date, 90% of the time, his face was in his phone, would you have ever married him? No, you would not have. But somehow we get into marriage, then we're like, “Oh, we don't have anything to talk about so I guess we'll just look at our phones to avoid that gap, that space between us because it feels too uncomfortable.” We don't like being uncomfortable, do we? So instead of dealing with that discomfort or stepping into that gap, we retreat from it. That's another dynamic that's going on.
When we start treating our marriage like we're two project managers just raising a family together or building a house together, what ends up happening is that at some point, we start only discussing what's necessary and what's pertinent and relevant in that moment. We stop talking about the peripheral stuff, the things that aren't terribly urgent or even important and we only talk about what's relevant and important.
Then it's like our marriage starts to become like a business meeting all the time. We lose the magic. We lose the connection. We certainly lose the curiosity that we have about our partners. We want them to be curious about us as well. I think sometimes, after I’ll call it 10-plus years in a marriage, we assume that we know everything there is to know about our partners.
I learned something recently about Derrick that I was like, “Oh my gosh, I never knew that,” and this year we'll be celebrating our 10-year wedding anniversary and I love when I find out new things that I never knew about his childhood or things that he did in his 20s and 30s before I ever even knew him.
We have to remain curious about our partners. This is so important. There's a meme that I've probably referenced here before, I reference it all the time and I've looked for it again and again. I even went looking for it again yesterday just to see if I could find it. I haven't been able to but it was basically a boy who was asking his granddad who had been married for 60-plus years, “Granddad, what's the secret to making your marriage last?”
His grandfather said, “Well, your grandmother has been eight different women in the time that I have known her, and I have enjoyed getting to know every single one of them.” I love that perspective. Because to think that we are like flash frozen upon marriage, like the day you walk down the aisle, that is all you will ever be, you are not allowed to evolve, change, or morph at all, it's ridiculous to even say it out loud because life changes us.
Think about it. Having kids changes who you are at such a core level. Try going back to being the woman you were before you ever had children. It's impossible. When life is changing us, and change is all around us, why in the world wouldn't we remain curious about our partner's experience and how they might be changing?
I would encourage you to not shy away from the negative stuff, the things we put in the bad column. Let's talk about the diagnoses. Let's talk about the death of a loved one in the family and not just run away from it and pretend like, “Oh, if I don't bring it up, then she won't feel sad.” No. Talk about it. Bring it up. How are you feeling today? I know it's been a month since your mom passed away. What's happening for you?
Those are powerful questions, but most of us don't ask them. Give people the opportunity to say, “You know what, I'm okay. I'm doing good, but I appreciate you asking.” Instead, we're so afraid to upset that we stay away from anything that feels a little bit too sensitive where I think those are the places you want to dive in.
Your partner lost his job. Ask about it. Talk about it. How are you feeling? How is it impacting you? Not just what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do next? That's all coming from us and our fears. If you've lost a friend, ask your partner if they've lost a friend, if they've walked away from a friendship or a family member, they stopped communicating with them.
If they got that promotion, it can be something great or they didn't get the promotion. Or how did it feel to overcome that challenge? That must have felt pretty good, huh? This is some of the stuff that we lose and we stopped talking about because we're so afraid to create any upset when at the same time because we're so afraid to create any upset, we don't get any benefits and we lose those really important points of connection.
I call those things moments of truth. When there's a death in the family, and I'm not talking about a distant aunt or uncle, I'm talking about a child, I'm talking about a sister, mother, or father, those things change you. If we are not showing up for our partners in those moments, those are moments you can never get back. You can't just redo that, “I want a do-over.” You can't ever get that back. It's really, really important in terms of being conscious of how we show up in those moments. We've got to be interested in our partner.
Now I hear people say this, they'll say things like, “Well, all he talks about is his work and I don't care about his work. I don't know anything about his work.” I once had a client tell me that her husband had a hobby of flying. He loved to talk about airplanes and the dynamics, aerodynamics, the equipment, and all that kind of stuff and she was like, “All he wants to talk about is flying. I am so bored with it all.”
Here's what I want to offer. If you want to feel close to your partner, then you have to be interested in what they're interested in. I always say my husband loves to fish, I am not someone who fishes. This pretty face does not fish. But when he comes back from fishing and he wants to talk about it, I mean, I listen.
It's not because I love fishing and I would love to stay up all night talking about fishing, it's not because it's an interest of mine. It's because I'm interested in my husband and I'm interested in feeling connected to my husband and because he's interested in it, therefore I'm going to be interested in it.
Doesn't that make sense? It would be the same thing in reverse. It should be the same thing. My husband probably would not like to sit here and talk about relationship issues and dynamics all day every day. But when I do talk about those things with him, he doesn't just shut down, he doesn't act uninterested. He talks to me about them and we engage in that. It's not because it's so interesting to him. It's because it’s interesting to me and he's interested in me. That feels good to have your partner be interested in you.
The other thing I will tell you is that more than 70% of affairs begin in one of two places: at work or in a common shared interest. Let's say you get into running 5ks or something like that, there's probably a whole bunch of people you're training with that are also training to run a marathon, 5k, or something like that so that then becomes a common shared interest.
If something like that, their interest or their passion, something they're really passionate about, and their work are huge parts of who they are and how they spend their time, they give a lot of energy to those two things, why wouldn't you want to be a part of that energy? Because I'm here to tell you, if you don't want to be a part of that energy, I promise you, there will be someone else who does want to be a part of that energy, someone else who will be interested in the challenges of running a 5k or the challenges that are going on at work.
We've got to remain curious and we've got to actively remain interested. Not because we're so interested and we would choose it but because we're interested in our marriage thriving. When we stop sharing all the irrelevant stuff in our lives, and I say irrelevant stuff like the minutiae, think about who's your person.
I always say, “Who's your person? Who's the first person you think of when something great happens in the middle of your day or something funny happens, who's the first person you want to tell? Or if something bad happens, who's that person, who is your go-to person?”
For many of you, I bet it's not your spouse. It's probably a best friend, a sister, or a mother. Now, that's okay if you like your reason for that, but if you want your partner to be your person, then we've got to reach out to them in those moments and go, “Hey, here's what just happened to me. I just wanted to let you know,” and that can be a call, it can be a text.
It doesn't even have to be in that moment. It can be when you both get home from work that night, “Hey, I want to tell you about what happened to me today.” You don't have to be secretive about it and be totally transparent.
Go, “You know what, I've realized that my sister's become my person. She's become my go-to person and I don't want it to be that way. Nothing against my sister. I love my sister. But I want you to be my person. What I'm going to do is as things happen to me throughout the day, if something great happens, or something not so great happens, if you're wondering why am I telling you this, it's because I want you to be in that role for me. I genuinely do. So you're going to hear from me a little bit more. We're not just going to talk about the management of this household, the kids, and the weather. We need those points of connection.”
Now to give you one other thought-starter to go with, let's say that you are going out on a date, but you're like, “What are we even going to talk about?” I always love to have a few questions in my back pocket so that if the conversation starts to wane, I have something that I can throw out there that is interesting that starts to open up the dialogue between me and whoever it is that I'm having this conversation with. In this case, it would be you and your spouse.
Here are some questions and I took these from Table Topics, which you can get on Amazon. They're just cards, and I have tons of them. They're cards that you ask people questions, and it starts to create a rich conversation. I use them at dinner parties all the time.
Here are some questions that you could use. I picked out five or six good ones: What are you most proud of accomplishing in your life so far? Cool question. What are you excited about in the year ahead? In the next 12 months, what are you most excited about? What was one thing as a child that you always wanted that you never got? If you only had five more years left to live, what would you change about your life today? What are all the things you’d change about your life? What would you like your life to look like 10 years from now? Or if you could only have one piece of advice for your younger self, your 18-year-old self, what would you tell him?
Those are just conversation starters to get more conversation going and to start to normalize, again, talking about something other than work, kids, and the weather. That's how we stay connected with one another. If we've lost that connection, we can walk through the discomfort of needing a prop, of needing these other questions until it starts to become more second nature, until my spouse becomes my person and the first person that I want to reach out to when something really cool happens in my day.
If you think you have nothing to talk about, my friend, I would challenge you, if you think you know everything there is to know about your partner and there's nothing new to learn, that is impossible, because we are all always changing. Life is constantly causing us to change, either getting bigger, evolving, and growing or shrinking and becoming smaller. But regardless, that is a shift and that is a change. If it's happening for your partner, it's worth noting and it's worth being interested in. I hope that was helpful for you. Until next time, take really good care.
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