Have you ever been at a restaurant and noticed a couple sitting alone together and not speaking? Awkward…and painful!
When I see a couple like that, it actually makes me feel a little uncomfortable. In my brain I’m thinking…can’t you guys find anything to talk about? You must be so unhappy!
One thing is for sure…couples that are happy talk to one another. And I’m guessing that what happy couples talk about will surprise you.
There’s this popular idea in our culture that keeping topics light and avoiding delicate or controversial conversations is the way to go. That might work well for family reunions but when it comes to your intimate relationship, that’s a recipe for disaster.
A research study conducted by Matthias Mehl and his colleagues showed that happiness and well-being are related to having less small talk and more substantive conversations.
In other word, to be a happy couple you’ve gotta talk about the deep stuff. No more tippy-toeing around the topics that might spark a debate, lead to tears, or seem too personal.
If you want a lifetime of happiness with your partner, then roll up your sleeves and get to work on becoming each other’s confessor, philosopher, therapist, historian, strategist, and muse. However, if you don’t care about being a happy couple, then go ahead and settle for superficial chitchat.
But if you want to be happy, really happy, then hurry up and jump off the treadmill of robotically reporting how your day went in that boring monotone, then calling it good. You know the routine – where you methodically go through the events of your day but sound like you’re reading from a Grocery Shopping list.
Stop with the endless commentary on the weather and other meaningless, mind numbing shallow chatter. Instead, hand your partner a cup of tea or a glass of wine, find a comfy place for you both to sit, and start a discussion about a subject that really matters. Have a real conversation.
One of the great things about being in an intimate relationship is that you can talk to your partner about things you’d rarely (or never) feel comfortable talking about with anyone else.
Couples that are happiest tell each other anything and EVERYTHING!
I think that some of what happy couples talk about will surprise you. Here’s a short list of 10 things happy couples talk about with regularity:
1. Relationship Agreements
What agreements have you made with each other that protect your relationship? For example, have you made an agreement to always put your relationship first? What does that mean? How will you protect your relationship? Has something new come up that requires you to discuss a new relationship rule? Discuss your purpose as a couple. What promises do you need to make and keep to be happy and secure?
2. Childhood Experiences
Sharing your childhood memories will help you understand each other much better. What was your partner like as a kid? What did she do when she was scared at night? How did she get along with her parents? Childhood experiences are what wire your brain in terms of how you do closeness and how you respond to stress in our primary relationship. Learning about your partner’s reflexes will help you not take things so personally.
3. Previous Relationships
Talking about your relationship histories will help you get to know each other at a deeper level. God forbid, I’m not suggesting you pine for an old flame, or compare your partner to an ex. No, the point here is not to make your honey feel insecure. The reason to talk about past relationships is to understand the things that caused injury, didn’t work well, and led to the relationship ending.
4. Spiritual Beliefs
Ask questions about the religious culture your spouse grew up in. How did that impact their life? And talk about your current spiritual path – both your beliefs and your uncertainties. How are your and your partner’s beliefs about religion and spirituality similar? What spiritual ideas have changed over the years. Give each other the gift of listening without judgment.
5. Political Viewpoints
How do you really feel about what’s going on in Washington? While it might not be a good idea to talk about politics with your brother-in-law, you’ll be happier as a couple if you can discuss your political viewpoints with each other. It probably helps if some of your views are similar. But that’s not necessary if you don’t take your different ideas personally.
6. My Vulnerabilities
It’s funny how the moment you’re most likely to feel the happiest is right after you’ve told your partner the one thing that makes you feel the most vulnerable. So give it a try…talk about your most embarrassing experience or greatest fear. Take a deep breath and divulge the worst mistake you ever made. Admit your shortcomings. Invite your significant other to share those things with you, too. Then sit back and watch your happiness grow in the afterglow of shared understanding and acceptance.
7. Our Remember When’s
A trip down memory lane is one of the best paths to happiness for couples. Pull out the photos (or the mental snap-shots in your head) and reminisce about the adventures you’ve shared. Lean into the delightful details of past date nights, weekend trips, social events with friends, family vacations, quirky experiences, misadventures, great dinners, and romantic encounters. Talk about how you felt at the time, what you remember about your partner, and what was your favorite moment.
8. News, Music, Shows, Books, or Podcasts
Discussions about current events, movies, lyrics, books and podcasts can be deeper than you might think. This is where you can talk about integrity and other values, character motivations, heroes, plots, profound insights, new ideas, and even paradigm shifts. A fun side-effect is that you can even develop a network of quotes and references that become your own couple insider’s language.
9. Future Dreams
Talking about the future can be super scary. It can also be amazingly inspiring and exciting. What do you each dream of? What are your aspirations and intentions? Where do you see yourself in 5 or 20 years? Do you have that picture in your head of sitting on your front porch together when you’re both old? Talking about your future dreams can be a joyful experience that bonds you together as a couple. Give it a try.
Happy couples don’t just have sex a couple of times a week, they also talk about sex. Also, they engage in sexy talk both in bed and outside of the bedroom. And they share their sexual fantasies, desires, and dislikes. They talk about what they like and don’t like. Couples that are happy also say “I love you” when they’re making love. Talking about sex can be hugely uncomfortable at first. If you’ll approach the topic with either a matter-of-fact attitude or humor it won’t be as awkward as you might expect.
Do you and your partner routinely talk about the 10 topics that happy couples talk about? If not, you might be heading down a path of unhappiness. Don’t become the couple in the restaurant who barely say one word to each other.
Reach out to a good marriage counselor or relationship coach if you need help becoming a happier couple.