"We have nothing to talk about anymore." "We don't have anything in common." "I know everything about him/her." These are all things we hear from couples who seem to have lost the ability to truly communicate with each other in meaningful ways.
If you and your spouse stare at your phones during dinner, or struggle to talk about random things, there is most likely nothing wrong with your relationship other than the fact that you aren't as intentional about communicating as you used to be.
Sometimes one spouse has a greater need to connect through communication than the other. In order to learn more about how each of you feels and receives love, take The 5 Love Languages quiztogether.
Learn about each other β your likes and dislikes, your needs and frustrations. No matter your love language, learning to talk to your spouse again will invite romance, adventure and novelty into your marriage β the kinds of things that every marriage needs.
Here are 15 ideas that will help you learn to talk to your spouse again:"
1. Become a more interesting person
You don't only have to talk about money, kids, aging, extended family or work. Choose one or two things that you have always been interested in and make an effort to learn more about them. Set a goal to read about something new daily and then to share what you learned with your spouse.
2. Be interested in what your spouse is saying
If your spouse wants to tell you about something they read or learned, be interested. Don't just sit on your phone, zone out or nod. Here's a challenge: Ask at least six questions (think who, what, when, where, why, how) throughout the conversation. Be involved, engaged and interested in what they are saying. As you practice this, genuine interest will come. "Β
3. Ask more questions
"ΒAt dinner time you ask, "How was your day?" and your spouse may respond by saying, "Fine," or "Stressful"; and if you don't ask anymore questions, that will be the end of the conversation, and you will miss out on learning more. Ask probing questions, like "What projects did you work on today?" "How did you figure that out?" "What were the most interesting parts of the day?"
4. Learn to give good answers
This will take some thought and discipline for a spouse who doesn't love to talk; but it is important. You have to learn to respond with more than one-word answers. Think back through the day and then start describing little details β things you did, people you talked to, things you read, thoughts you had, etc. It will make for better conversation β which will immediately help you and your spouse feel closer and more connected.
5. Take turns talking and asking questions
If there is one "talker," in your marriage, and it happens to be you, then learn to take turnstalking and asking questions. You don't have to dominate the conversation, or talk just because there is silence.
6. Love what your spouse loves
If your spouse has been particularly interested in something lately, choose to be proactive about learning more about what they love. It will give you loads to talk about. And do it without expecting your spouse to do the same for you. I, for example, know that if I keep up on ESPN news, I will be a much more fascinating wife to talk to over dinner. Just saying.
7. Learn new things together
One of the best ways to learn how to talk to your spouse again is to make an effort to learn new things together. Take a class or pick up a hobby together, or read books and articles to each other. Then discuss what you are learning about. Practice and time will help you both become excellent conversationalists.
8. Create projects to do together
Maybe you'll re-tile the bathroom floor, or run a bake sale for your church. Whatever it is, create projects you can work on together; and if possible, ones where you are busy working with your hands β it leads to conversation. When you are working on something together, it seems more natural to have conversations about all kinds of things, without anything feeling forced.
9. Be OK talking about normal stuff
There is nothing wrong with talking about bills, your trip to the doctor, something the neighbor kid did or what happened to your own kid at school. In fact, talking about your real life (though it may seem tedious at times) is the best way to connect. However, it is these real conversations that can also become frustrating if one of you gets critical or you don't see eye to eye on things (That is when it's important to remember to talk about hard things in positive ways).
10. Appreciate silence
Some nights you will have a lot to talk about with your spouse, and other nights you won't. That is life. That is normal. And sometimes silence can be the best thing for a relationship. Sitting side by side, thinking or reading can nurture a marriage simply because you are together. So don't lose hope and be discouraged if some moments are more quiet than others β enjoy the silent bonding."Β
11. Be vulnerable
If you had a rough conversation with an extended family member, don't be afraid to bring it up. If you are struggling with something privately, don't be afraid to bring it up. Talk out your emotions, your feelings, your frustrations and your fears.
12. Become an empathetic listener
If your spouse opens up to you about a problem they are facing or something they are struggling with, don't be quick to give advice to try and fix things. And don't criticize or get mad. Instead, be a good listener. Be understanding, encouraging and present. These kinds of conversations connect couples on deeper levels, and help them learn to work through issues.
13. Disconnect from virtual reality
Sometimes when we spend so much time online via social media, sports, gaming or other things, we end up living in a virtual reality; and we lose our ability to connect in person. Take a break from the virtual world for a time. Give up the smartphone for a day, or a week, and notice how it helps you connect to real life and the real people around you.
14. Find ways to compliment your spouse
Don't miss the opportunity to compliment your spouse mid-conversation β like when you were dating. As your spouse shares about his or her day, take a moment to express your thoughts: "Man, your blue eyes still make me melt," or, "Wow, I'm impressed with how you handled that. You really are such a thoughtful person." Taking moments to point out what you love about your spouse will help you to feel more in love again.
15. Remember the power of humor
Learn to laugh together. See the light side of things. If you struggle finding things to laugh about, take time occasionally to find jokes or funny clips to share with each other. There is power in laughing with your spouse β it brings you closer together and creates positive, happy feelings and memories. "Β
You don't have to try all of these suggestions at once; but give one or two of them a try this week and see if you have more to talk about with your spouse. Happy talking!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Nurturing Marriage. It has been republished here with permission.