When you dream of being in the perfect long-term relationship, we’re willing to bet that part of the appeal is in its sense of security and routine. You relish the thought of coming home each day to the same wonderful person, of knowing that you’ll have someone to share a meal with, of the comfort of someone you love lying next to you in bed every night. It’s pretty much the best kind of routine, no? But what happens when the predictability you once wished for starts to feel a little stale? Sure, you get to sit across the table from the same person every night, but you also may begin to feel like you’re having the same conversation with that person every night.
The routine can turn quickly from romantic to boring… and that’s when it becomes all too easy to check out emotionally on the day-to-day conversations that should really form the backbone of your life as a couple. To help you ensure that these conversations are staying lively (even if the subject matter is nothing but office politics and chores), we sought out tips from communication and relationship experts. Keep scrolling for all their suggestions, then sit back and relax as your once “boring” conversations with bae suddenly feel fresh and interesting again.
1. Change up the routine. Going to and from work at a certain time every day becomes almost second nature… and from there, you’re probably conditioned to walk in the front door, park yourself in the same spot, and have the same conversation with your spouse day after day. To combat this, Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt — chair of the communication department at Youngstown State University — suggests that couples add a little variety to their after-work routine to inspire similar variety in their conversations. Try sitting in a new spot or surprising your S.O. with a glass of wine when they walk in the door after a stressful day.
2. Use open-ended questions. Avoid yes-or-no questions to keep the conversation flowing. Counselor Heidi McBain recommends a few example open-ended inquiries: What did you do this morning at work? Where did you go for lunch? What was the highlight of your day? How did your afternoon meeting go?
3. Share the good and the bad. Present the happenings of your day by categorizing the high and the low points. Then, invite your S.O. to do the same. Couples counselor and Baltimore Therapy Center director Raffi Bilek notes that framing your conversation this way should make for a more interesting conversation than attempting to sum up your whole day in a single run-on sentence.
4. Put your phone away. This should be a no-brainer no matter who you’re talking to, but if you really want to connect with your significant other after a long day, licensed marriage and family therapist Melissa Dumaz reinforces the importance of unplugging. There are enough potential distractions at play during the weekday — don’t introduce unnecessary ones by trying to multitask between talking to your S.O. and tracking notifications.
5. Invite specific conversations. Gauge what your special someone actually wants to talk about by simply asking them! Asking, “Do you need to talk about…?” is a great place to start. “Any open-ended invitation to be heard sends the message that you are cared about and that you matter,” encourages minister and psychotherapist Sheri Heller. “Offering quality time to listen to your partner’s thoughts and feelings deepens your connection.”
6. Show that you’ve been listening. Demonstrate to your S.O. that you’ve been engaged with them on a regular basis by bringing information from yesterday’s end-of-day conversation (or better yet, something from last week!) into your check-in today. Ask about the specific meeting your partner attended or the particular project they’ve been working on. Your significant other will be pleased to hear you’ve been paying attention, and since specific questions like this tend to lead to better conversations, anyway, it’s pretty much a win-win, per author and communication coach Alexandra Franzen.
7. Don’t wait until the end of the day to connect. As much as your schedule allows, psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman recommends touching base with your significant other over the course of the workday. When you can steal a few moments in the morning or afternoon to talk about weekend plans or other fun happenings, it takes some pressure off the time you have to converse at home later that night.
8. Respond the way you would want to be responded to. Follow the Golden Rule of conversations. “If you respond more thoughtfully and elaborately, you’ll likely get more conversation from your spouse, as well,” reminds sex and relationship coach Colby Marie Z. “As humans, we often reflect the amount and level of self-disclosure from those we converse with, so if you give a lot of info, your partner is more likely to, as well.”
9. Don’t make assumptions. If you and your partner have been together for a long time, you likely can’t help but think you know everything that they’re feeling — but you’re mistaken! Don’t assume that you know why your S.O. came home in a bad mood or that they don’t want to talk about whatever is bothering them. Clinical psychologist and relationship expert Dr. Rebekah Montgomery urges couples to share their assumptions with one another so that they can be sure everyone’s on the same page, keeping conversations honest and genuine.
Tweet us your secret to keeping everyday conversations with your S.O. interesting @BritandCo.
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