When Adam and I started dating, it was easy to spend hours laying in each others’ arms and talking. We never had to think about things to say. Ideas just flowed from our desire to share ourselves with each other. Sometimes we talked about big ideas. Sometimes we talked about our favorite T.V. shows. And sometimes we talked about nothing at all.
Flash forward nine years, throw in two jobs, a home, and a baby and suddenly conversation becomes more of a luxury than a staple. That’s why we’ve learned that the ability to have great conversations takes practice.
So why are these great, intimate conversations so important?
- Conversation helps you stay on the same page. If you aren’t talking, you aren’t communicating. Great conversations are the only way to make sure that you and your partner are headed in the same direction. You’d be surprised how quickly a marriage can get bogged down in assumptions about how your life has to run without ever actually talking about what is best for your family.
- Conversation increases intimacy. Real conversations make you vulnerable. You can’t have a real conversation without being open about your thoughts and feelings. Expressing yourself, and listening to your husband express himself, is an important part of the intimacy in a relationship. That’s why great conversation can actually lead to more enjoyment in the bedroom.
- Conversation contributes to your family’s overall happiness. When you and your husband are communicating clearly and feeling open with one another, it helps you have a more positive outlook on life. And, believe it or not, the conversations you have with your husband make your kids happier, too—it is actually more important for kids to know their parents love each other than it is for kids to know that their parents love them!
As important as they are, great conversations don’t just happen. They take a commitment from you and your significant other to make them work. Most importantly, they take time, space, and silence.
- Time. A monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly date night is one of the most important things you can give to your marriage. But even if getting out of the house really isn’t an option, set aside some time every week for just the two of you. A good location is a perfect way to signal that you’ve set aside time to just be together.
- Space. Think back to the moments you felt closest to your husband or boyfriend. Were you at a nice restaurant? Sitting in front of a warm fire? Snuggling in bed? These sorts of settings invite conversation. A place that isn’t a part of your day-to-day routine makes it easier to sit back and relax. People, men especially, don’t tend to look each other in the eye while they’re talking—choose a venue that leaves you sitting side-by-side or gives you something else to look at. Most importantly, the best spots for conversation leave room for silence.
- Silence. I believe I’m not unusual as a woman for finding silence easy to fill. When Adam isn’t talking, I assume it’s because I’ve done something wrong. I start chattering about nonsense to fill the void. But thoughtful conversation demands time to pause and reflect on what you and your husband are saying. If you want to have a great conversation, you have to be okay with silence.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a few ground rules:
- Give each other your full attention. Turn off your TV, cell phone, and iPod.
- Check day-to-day concerns at the door. If you start a conversation about how cute your son was earlier that day, I can promise (out of my own experience) that your conversation won’t get any deeper.
- Don’t “make” conversation. You don’t have to chatter to fill silence. Wait until you have something meaningful to say. My favorite trick is to ask Adam about something he knows more about that I do. He’s usually regaling me with Chinese poetry in no time.
- Accept that, some days, there may not be anything to say. Conversations don’t happen under pressure. Don’t take it personally if you don’t have a great talk every time you’d like. And for heaven’s sake don’t assume your husband’s silence means he doesn’t love you.
What are your favorite things to talk about as a couple? Let us know in the comments.