When you spend time alone with your spouse, are things so quiet, you could cue the crickets to make some background noise and lessen the
If so, you’re not alone. It seems to be a pattern that many marriages fall into: stifled communication.
In this blog, we’ll look at a relationship study that was done on this very topic. Also, I’ll help you reignite the intimate, sharing spark between you and your spouse once again in 3 steps. Read on…
How Does Your Marriage Stack Up?
A small study involving 500 married couples revealed a pattern: the longer a couple was married, the less time they spent talking at the dinner table.
Maybe you’ve noticed it in other couples (it’s always easier to view from the outside than to view our own situations from within). You’re at dinner, and you glance over at a couple: he is staring off in one direction, she’s staring off in another. The only conversation they have is with their waiter when they give their food and drink order.
Is this what others see when they look at you and your spouse?
What you have witnessed, and may yourself be experiencing, is a form of neglect. The forgotten ability to talk is actually a major issue that needs your attention.
Here’s some more from the study:
Couples who had been married for various lengths of time (some married a year, others for over 50 years), were surveyed on how much time they averaged talking with one another during a typical dinner. Here are the results, showing length of marriage and the amount of time spent in conversation:
One year: 40 minutes
Ten years: 29 minutes
Twenty years: 21 minutes
Thirty years: 16 minutes
50 years: less than 3 minutes
The longer you’ve been married, the more likely you are to feel like you know everything there is to know about your spouse. You may think that you’ve already shared everything there is to share.
Communication efforts can become lax as the relationship settles into comfortable familiarity. But what begins as a relaxation in your communication efforts can quickly become malignant—compromising the very foundation of your marriage. This is when you start to think, “We no longer have anything in common,” and “We don’t connect anymore.”
You’re right: you don’t connect anymore. Three minutes at dinner does not help maintain an intimate connection. But, you don’t have to settle for this. You can learn how to spark up conversation with your spouse again, using the following 3 steps:
Step 1: So… What Are you Talking About?
Think about the last five verbal exchanges you’ve shared with your spouse. Categorize them as such:
A: Deep, meaningful exchanges about individual goals, mutual goals and sharing future plans; discussing news events, articles, movies, art and/or books.
B: Deciding what to have for dinner and who will clean up, and other chore-like topics.
No one is grading you, so be honest and see under which category your last five conversations fall.
Step 2: Step Up… It’s for a Good Cause
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that if your last several conversations with your husband or wife ended up on the non-titillating “B” end of the spectrum, you have some work to do.
What would you be more likely to attend: a movie with meaning, or a movie about two people splitting up the chore list? Make the conscious decision as to which of these scenarios your marriage will resemble in the very near future. Give it some thought, and come prepared to surprise your spouse with the unexpected.
Step 3: Raise the Bar
Set high expectations for your marriage and the ability of you and your spouse to communicate at an “A” level. For your next several conversations, have some ideas prepared for topics you’d like to bring up with your spouse. Travel the unbeaten path here… to be a successful conversationalist with anyone—including your spouse—you have to work at being interesting.
Also, I recommend you bring up positive, or at least neutral, topics, rather than starting a conversation about the lawn care your spouse has been neglecting or the need for some more help with the household chores.
My best to you in making your conversations with your spouse more exciting.
What are your ideas for enlivening conversation between you and your spouse, starting tonight?