Confronting the problems in your marriage and working through them – together – is the key to making any marriage work. And one of the major issues in a marriage, something that neither spouse might even realize, is not really knowing their partner.
You need to know each other. Plain and simple.
I touched on this in my chapter of the recently released book Putting Kids First in Divorce – “How to Work on Your Marriage When It No Longer Works” – to help the couples in a struggling marriage who are contemplating divorce. But I want to expand on this topic further here on my blog, because I think it’s so important.
“Knowledge is power.” It is an old quote that dates back to the 16th century. And as old as it is, it’s still totally true today. The more you know about your partner, the more power you have to solve your relationship problems.
To some, this advice may be obvious. “Of course, I know my partner!” But you may be surprised by how much can change over the course of your relationship. Even small changes add up over time. And everyone’s opinions evolve as they grow as people. How have your spouse’s views changed since you first got together? What about since just last year? You may be surprised what you learn.
Tune into your partner. Spend time asking questions and really listening and caring about what they have to say. What does your partner like or dislike? What does your partner like to do in their spare time? What is your partner sensitive about, and what enrages them? What are their thoughts, hopes, wishes, and dreams? What is their funniest childhood story or their most heartbreaking?
Armed with this knowledge, you will be better equipped to support your spouse by knowing when to celebrate their achievements. But you will also know how to avoid hurting your spouse and when you should simply let something go.
It’s also important to know your spouse because how else will you keep your connection alive? You need to be able to talk to your spouse on a deeper level besides just talking about your regular, daily goings-on. And there is always more to discover about one another. That’s good news, because it can keep the relationship feeling exciting and interesting no matter how long you’re together.
So how do you continue getting to know one another?
There are tons of ways! But the best way is to just dive in and ask your partner questions. Set aside time every day to talk.
Many relationship coaches and counselors have created games to give couples questions to ask each other to really learn about your spouse intimately and on a more meaningful level. Check out the Gottman’s Couples Retreat Game, which has Open Ended Questions and Love Maps card decks. Or try coming up with your own questions.
Regardless of where you get the questions from, ask away! You’ll be that much closer to really knowing your spouse – and building a stronger, happier, long-lasting marriage.
Rooting for you!