Tired of Talking About What To Have For Dinner?
You hear plenty of talk about how sex sometimes goes downhill in marriage. But not enough is said about conversation. This problem of having “nothing to talk about” was summed up really well in an episode of Seinfeld, in which Kramer explained to Jerry the pitfalls of a long term relationship.
There is an antidote to conversational death.
It starts with recognizing that this is something that needs tending. Couples who realize that conversation might not “just happen” are way ahead of those who one day look up and say “Who CARES about my day? Quit asking about my DAY!”
Conversation is an aspect of the relationship that helps keep the connection open, strong and growing. And, again, very much like sex, it can sneak away from you if you don’t pay attention. Maybe during dating everything came easy and you could talk for hours because you had a lifetime to catch up on. Throw a few years or decades on top of that and now what? Zzzzzzz.
There are two ways to handle this: find other people to tell your boring old stories to, or actually become more interesting. To yourself. And to everyone else.
Why don’t they warn you about having nothing to talk about?
Most likely, nobody warned you about dwindling conversation when you were ordering your dress and tux. Why not? Maybe you’ve only bumped into the lucky ones who are continually fascinating. More often, it’s because people don’t really like to admit how bored they have become, and they don’t have a solution. Instead they just live with their own dissatisfaction and turn to Facebook to try to fill their need for connection. Worse, they may enjoy conversation elsewhere and grow more and more attached to everybody but their spouse. This is not a formula for a happy relationship.
How do you tend this connection so that it stays growing and strong? My mother always said: if you’re bored, you’re boring. I think she was right, some of the time. If you find your partner boring, you might want to check a mirror. When was the last time you asked something other than “How was your day?”
There are a million ways to go about this.
Here are five:
- I’ve been following Kalina Silverman’s “Big Talk” concept. She’s trying to help people bust out of the small talk trap and start real conversations. (She also sells these cards that include topics that make it fun.
- A New York Times article includes 36 questions designed to make any two people fall in love. I don’t know about that, but they do make two people stretch themselves and learn to share more.
- If you watch movies, television shows, listen to a podcast or read an article, do it together. Talk about it.
- Download the Gottman Card deck app, developed by one of the top marriage researchers in the world. It’s free and it gives discussion prompts to deepen a conversation.
- Or maybe you just learn to ask better questions, about what your partner is interested in, and to share more when you are asked a question.
It’s about practice, not perfection.
If your conversations don’t always feel like your first date, you might want to recognize this is a long game. It’s about enjoying the process, being open to each other’s thoughts and feelings, and learning more about yourself and your partner now and then.
Margie Wheelhouse is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Springfield, Illinois. She loves helping couples to build great relationships and repair broken ones. She tries to take her mother’s advice and not be boring.