“Men and women belong to different species and communication between them is still in its infancy.” ~ Bill Cosby
All problems in relationships boil down to one thing: lack of communication.
Whether our concerns relate to money, sex, kids, affection, career or any of the various reasons we fight or get angry, when we don’t communicate our needs and discuss our differences, things will inevitably break down. You’ve been there. So have I.
We are turf-oriented creatures, even with our most intimate relationships. We want to protect what’s ours — emotionally, psychologically, and physically — often at the expense of those we love most. Good and close relationships require letting go of some of that turf, compromising, and accepting that the other person’s needs and feelings are as valid as our own.
Simply living in the same space with another person provides plenty of fodder for arguments. When you are first in love, the boxers left on the floor are just adorable. The heat turned up to 80 is a darling idea. But eventually, familiarity breeds, if not contempt, plenty of irritation. Add to that the stresses of children, finances, and career — along with the real differences in the way men and women perceive the world, and it’s a wonder any of us make it through the first few years of a relationship.
We have to talk about what’s bugging us, what we want from the other, our dreams and disappointments. And we have to listen, really listen to what the other is saying.
To do that, you must divorce yourself from your personal needs long enough to put the relationship first. That means communication can’t devolve into protecting your turf or being right. You must exercise some self-control, even when strong feelings make you want to say unspeakable things.
The most successful, intimate relationships involve proactive communication before a fight ever breaks out. As stilted as it may seem, meeting with your spouse or partner on a regular basis to ask questions and learn about each other will protect your relationship from altercations and even better, it will create a new level of intimacy between you.
Here are 40 questions to help your relationship evolve and to help you learn more about each other:
1. What should I never say to you, even in anger or frustration?
2. How much time and space do we need apart from each other?
3. What activities and interests can we develop that will bring us closer?
4. What is going to really set you off?
5. What happens if we can’t agree on something important that involves both of us?
6. What kind of physical touch best says “I love you” to you?
7. What could I do that would cause you to pull away from me?
8. How many days between sex will be too long?
9. When you get home from work, what would you like me to do or say in the first few minutes?
10. Who do we know that has the kind of intimacy that we want?
11. What changes will I need to make in order for you to be really happy?
12. Where will we be in this relationship five years from now?
13. What’s the biggest lesson I can learn from you?
14. What do you do when you feel hurt by me?
15. What will ruin our relationship?
16. What habits do I have that are upsetting to you?
17. How can we both get our needs met when we want different things on a particular day?
18. What happens if one of us needs more space that the other?
19. What do we do if both of us are having a bad day?
20. How affectionate would you like to be with me?
21. What can we do to avoid fighting or arguing entirely?
22. What about our financial situation might become a recurring problem?
23. What about our work might become a recurring problem?
24. How will we let each other know what we want sexually?
25. What will I have to say to get your attention when I’ve not been able to?
26. What need of yours have I not been able to satisfy?
27. What kind of memories do we want to create together?
28. What will keep us happily together for years to come?
29. What will be the early warning signs that our relationship is in trouble?
30. How will you be able to forgive me if I’ve done something that really hurts you?
31. What will you do if you feel tempted by another person?
32. What personality differences do we have that might cause a problem?
33. When we argue, how will you take responsibility for your part of the problem?
34. How can we make our sex life even better?
35. What are your deepest wounds and how can I support you there?
36. Where are you unwilling to compromise?
37. What about my voice or communication style makes you want to spend less time around me?
38. What do you expect from me that you should really be expecting of yourself?
39. What are you willing to do with or for me that you haven’t been able to do in previous relationships?
40. What are your deepest dreams and desires for yourself and for us?