It’s easy to fall into comfortable routines when you’ve been together for longer than you can remember. Watching the same shows, eating the same dinner, and even having a familiar ritual in the bedroom are practices all long-term couples are guilty of. And hey, sometimes, that’s okay: that’s part of the beauty of being with someone who allows you to be your most authentic self. However, you want to make sure you remain curious about your partner — and you continuously make an effort to get to know them, over and over again.
In healthy relationships, both partners understand that the person you were the day you met won’t be the same person you are in ten years, says Dr. Darcy Sterling, a therapist and the host of E! Network’s Famously Single. “Because we all grow and change as individuals, it’s important to remain curious about your partner’s likes, dislikes, and needs because they’ll likely change over time,” she continues. “When we ask questions in relationships rather than presuming we know the answer, we give our partners the space to show up authentically, and it allows you to connect with your partner.”
Here, experts recommend the most meaningful questions to ask your one-and-only to build intimacy, strengthen your bond — and make you fall in love with each other again.
What would you love to do that would make today, this week/month/year fulfilling?
You know what makes your partner thrive — but you also know when they’re struggling. Though we must work to fulfill ourselves as individuals, when you love someone, you want to do all you can to support their goals and dreams. As author and manifestation expert Mandy Morris says, this question helps us help our partners to break the cycle of waking up daily unfulfilled and forgetting we can do something about it — which can be soul-crushing over time.
“If our partner is helping us feel that inspiring aliveness, it depends on connection and keeps the spontaneity of life breathing through us,” she continues. “Don’t worry about planning huge vacations you may not be able to afford or get the time off for; it could be as simple as a romantic bubble bath together that evening or planning a costumed game night with friends.”
What’s something you wish I did more of?
When you whip up something dazzling for dinner, you’re showing your partner that you care about them and you want them to eat well. However, your partner might see a gigantic mess in the kitchen and feel overwhelmed and would have preferred a snuggle on the couch instead.
Because we all give and receive love in different ways, Dr. Sterling says it’s really important to understand how your partner receives love messages. “Asking your partner this question will give you insight into what makes them feel loved so you can speak their love language,” she continues. “When we speak our partner’s love languages, it makes them feel more loved and appreciated, and it will strengthen the bond you have with your partner.”
What are you most afraid of lately?
When you are with someone who accepts you exactly as you are, celebrates your highs and lows, and makes you feel at home — you are safe and free. While relationships are often portrayed in the media as based on romance and sexy encounters, it’s that ability to be your most authentic self that makes a difference. So if you haven’t asked your partner what makes them feel anxious or afraid, here’s your nudge to do so.
“Relationships don’t have to be all about positivity, or all about the relationship, a part of creating a healthy connection is seeing your partner as a soul on their own journey too, and at times, stepping into that role of seeing who they are as an individual, and what makes them tick,” Morris continues. “Fear plays a huge role in that identity development and talking openly about it allows a couple to see if there are any areas of opportunity to serve the other, whether it be an ear to listen to these fears or even to provide solutions to release those fears.”
What do I do when I’m stressed that is hard for you?
Whether intentional or not, we often take out our frustrations on those we are the closest to, including our best friends and family members, as well as our romantic partners. And when we’re going through a particularly stressful period, we may say or do things we don’t mean. By acknowledging that you have shortcomings, you’re opening up a conversation on better communication practices, says relationship expert Kathryn Ford, M.D.
“When we are stressed, we tend to be very focused on our own experience and forget that our partner is being asked to deal with these things second hand — often in the form of irritability or unavailability,” she continues. “Develop the habit of inviting your partner to comment on ways you can get better at life and at loving.”
What’s something we used to do together that you wish we still did?
As Dr. Sterling puts it, all relationships need a healthy dose of excitement — it’s what makes new relationships so fun. However, once we exit that honeymoon stage, building those fuzzy feelings is harder. Rather than giving into predictable — and sometimes, boring — rituals, talk to your partner about what would make them feel overjoyed. “Disrupting your routine with something you and your partner enjoyed doing in the past will shake things up and sprinkle some excitement into your relationship,” Dr. Sterling adds.
How was your day and how are you doing?
Dr. Ford says don’t use this as a throwaway line, but as a sincere desire to connect and catch up. Actually, listen to their response — and talk it through. Even in relationships, Dr. Ford says that most adults are traveling solo through the day, and we want someone to care about how we are and what has happened to us. This includes both the good things and the not-so-good. She says to make sure to take the ‘how are you doing?’ route vs. ‘how are you feeling?’ How come? “Some people have trouble responding when asked how they are feeling. Go for the slightly less intense version as an opener,” she adds.
Do you have any insights about me that you’ve noticed lately?
Most likely, the individual you’re in a relationship with is also the person you spend most of your time with. They also know you very well — and they can see you in a way you may not be able to see yourself. Morris recommends taking the time to listen to their insights and perspective by asking questions like:
- What do you think I need most right now?
- What does it seem like I’m holding back on in life?
- What am I doing right that I don’t give myself credit for?
What do you wish was better about our sex life?
Dr. Ford says even if you have a great sex life, there are almost always things you could learn. “Making it easy for your partner to talk to you about this very sensitive area of your relationship is a truly generous gift,” she continues. “And if there is absolutely nothing that could possibly be better, then you both enjoy a moment of thinking about that and celebrating.”
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