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9 Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have

Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have | Better Marriage Tips | Relationship Hacks | Relationship Advice

Marriage is…well, it is a million different things at once. It’s wonderful and heartbreaking and comforting and difficult. It can be invigorating and infuriating, peaceful and tumultuous, good and bad, exciting and dull—sometimes all at the very same time.

It takes a lot of hard work to make a marriage work. During the honeymoon phase, it feels like there is nothing the two of you won’t overcome together, but children and time bring in more demands, more expense, and more stress. As the years go by, our love often becomes more seasoned but less passionate. Somewhere between the trips to dance lessons and weekly shopping, jobs, homework and pets…sometimes it’s just all we can do to make it to 8pm before collapsing in exhaustion. It is easy to forget how important it is to take the time to talk about the things that actually matter.

There’s an old parable about a group of blind men and an elephant. Each man touches the elephant to try to discover what it’s really like. One man touches the head and describes it as a big pot. The next man touches the ear and imagines a large fan. The next man, feeling the trunk, insists the elephant is just like a snake and the last man, holding on to the tail, describes a paintbrush. Without seeing the entire animal, the men are unable to describe the elephant as a whole.

Marriage can sometimes be like that. Without even realizing it, we are living parallel lives—going through the same experiences, but forgetting that without communication and discussion of the whole picture, we might not be sharing the same vision.

Having regular conversations about important topics can not only bring you and your spouse closer together right now, it can help you create a better plan for your future together. There is something powerful that happens when two people begin working towards the same goal! If it’s been a while since the two of you have really talked, these 9 conversations every couple needs to have are a great place to start.

Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have | Better Marriage Tips | Relationship Hacks | Relationship Advice

1. The Things That Make You Happy

It seems so simple, but in the busy hustle bustle of the day, we can lose sight of not only our own needs, but also our spouse’s needs. Have a conversation about the things that truly make you happy and discover the same about your spouse.

Do you know the things that truly make him feel joy? Is it a fishing holiday with his buddies? Going to a concert to see his favorite band? (Do you know his favorite band?) Maybe he loves his morning run or a good cup of coffee. Maybe he loves watching the game with the kids.

Whatever it is that makes your spouse feel joy and satisfaction should become a priority for both of you. This isn’t about only the things that you both enjoy, although those things are important, too. Learning what makes another person tick can really help you feel closer, even when you aren’t together. It also helps you focus your priorities to be sure you’re maximizing your joys as much as possible.

Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have | Better Marriage Tips | Relationship Hacks | Relationship Advice

2. Money

Financial stress is the number one cause of divorce, and if you are sharing your life with someone, you MUST be able to discuss finances, debt and savings. Even if you keep your finances completely separate (which is nearly impossible, anyway), they still need to be discussed on a regular basis. In many states, spouses are on the hook for each other’s debt, even if one passes away. You need to know where you stand.

There’s nothing lonelier or more terrifying than hiding a secret, like debt, from your significant other. Finding out that your spouse is hiding a financial problem can be equally awful. Even if you’re both great money managers, there’s a high chance that you and your spouse handle money differently.

Discuss your weekly spending, your plans, previous debts and financial goals. Better yet, attend a Financial Peace University class together—make it a date night.

One super helpful resource you might want to check out is this great FREE eBook from brightpeak financial, called How to Have the Money Talk With Your Significant Other.  It is jam-packed with practical tips about how to get the (sometimes uncomfortable) money conversation going (without causing a big fight!)

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Do whatever it takes to find out whether you are really on the same page. What are your spending styles? Is it important to both of you to live without debt? What investments do you have? Be sure both of you have access to any important financial information in case of an accident or emergency.

 

 

Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have | Better Marriage Tips | Relationship Hacks | Relationship Advice

3. Your Parenting Styles

This is another “can’t see the forest for the trees” conversation. Oftentimes this conversation gets overlooked because we’re just so busy being parents. However, continuously revisiting your parenting styles, objectives and thoughts on things like discipline, education and activities can be so important.

As our children get older, they often identify our parenting styles on their own, and at different times they may choose one parent over the other. It’s easy to start to feel a little left out, but knowing that you’re on the same page about the important parts helps solidify your bond as parents, together.

This conversation also helps immensely when your children attempt to play your styles off one another as they get older. (You know: “Dad will say yes, so ask him first, because mom will say no….”) This is also something that’ll save lots of headaches (and heaven forbid, nose piercings and curfew wars) when your children hit their teenage years.

4. The Things That Bother You

My husband and I fight. I’m willing to bet you and your spouse fight, too. It happens to the best of us. It doesn’t mean we aren’t in love or that our marriage is doomed. It just means we’re two adults that live together—and it’s bound to happen occasionally.

I have discovered that most of our fights come from little irritations that build up over time.  We don’t deal with them right away because they seem trite or trivial, or because we just don’t have time.  But then, when they happen again and again, that resentment builds up until it finally explodes

That resentment can be poisonous to a relationship, and letting things build up until they reach the boiling point can cause irreparable harm. It is much better to deal with it proactively, before the anger sets in. If something is bothering you, bring it up gently. Tell your spouse how you’re feeling in a non-accusatory way. Don’t let it build. Simply say, “I feel bad about…” and explain.

Many times, little things that drive us crazy and drive wedges between us are not done on purpose. Chances are your spouse may not even realize that a particular thing bothers you so much.

Saying you’re sorry (and meaning it) is the other side of the coin. Sorry can be hard for some of us, because it means we’re “admitting defeat.” In reality, an apology can simply mean that you sincerely feel regret for hurting someone else. It may not change your conviction, but it can soften your approach.

Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have | Better Marriage Tips | Relationship Hacks | Relationship Advice

5. Your Goals and Dreams

Family. A house. Financial stability. These things are pretty clear and are usually conversations you have early-on. As years go by and some of these things are locked down, be sure you still regularly revisit your long-term goals together.

Tackling a goal together—planning a vacation, planting a garden or fixing up the guest room—can be great a great way to spend time together and to remember that above all, you’re always a team. You and that guy are still in this one together.

Long-term goals can also be important. At what age does your spouse want to retire? Do you plan to stay in your home when your children are grown? Is there a life-long dream that still needs to be fulfilled? Keep these things in sight and work together to stay on the same page.

6. End of Life Care, Wishes and Plans

After avoiding it for a very long time, my husband and I finally took the time last year to meet with an attorney, create a will, and settle our affairs.  I’m not going to lie–it wasn’t fun.  We didn’t relish the opportunity to think about our own mortality, or to imagine every worst case scenario.  But we did it anyway, because we knew, after recently going through two deaths in our family, that it is important for the people who we will leave behind.  And that it is done, I can’t even tell you how much better it is to have that peace of mind!

Death is something none of us want to think about, especially not when we’re with our loved one—but it’s a necessity. Life can be uncertain. Perfectly healthy people have terrible accidents. We owe it to our children and our spouses to have this conversation.

If one of you is incapacitated, what are your wishes for care? What are your burial wishes?  Who would take care of your children and your finances in the event that both of you were killed?  It may seem morbid, but this conversation will save others from having to make decisions based on speculation at a time of bereavement.

Every couple should also have a will and life insurance. There are plenty of ways to set up a will online, or a local attorney will be able to take care of everything for around $500-$1000, depending on how complicated you need it to be. Talk to your financial manager or your 401(k) investment firm about setting up life insurance, your beneficiaries, and what your other financial needs might be in case of unforeseen circumstances.

This can be one of the most difficult conversations to have, but in the long term it will give you both peace of mind, and protection.

7. Things That Make You Blush

Your spouse should be your confidant. After all, you’ve surely shared plenty of intimate, private and vulnerable moments together. Now I’m not saying you have to share every glaring detail with each other at all times, or that you can’t still enjoy your privacy, but do allow yourself to share things that might make you feel a little embarrassed.

These topics can run the gamut from intimate needs and racy ideas to health concerns or even mortifying moments you just have to get off your chest. Intimacy is about sharing things that can be hard to say, but sharing them can be freeing and solidify the closeness you share. Think of something you’ve never told anyone and share it with your spouse. Chances are, you’ll learn something new about them as well.

Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have | Better Marriage Tips | Relationship Hacks | Relationship Advice

8. The Reasons You Love Each Other

Compared to finances and catastrophe, “Why do you love me?” can seem like a trite question—but I promise, it’s no less vital to the health of your marriage. Look at your spouse and think of that guy that gave you butterflies in your stomach when he looked at you. Think of all the ways he’s a great father and how you grin every time you see him take your daughter’s little hand.

Look at his eyes and remember how many times you’ve gazed into them and felt love. How many times have you caught his eye in a crowded room and felt relieved because you were trying to get his attention? Look at his hands and think of how you’ll always love them, even when they’re old with thin skin and blue veins, and how you’ll still long to hold that hand for comfort.

Then tell him all these things. Tell your spouse why you love him. Reminding your guy of all those reasons as often as possible will keep your marriage as strong as possible.

9. Your Faith

Our relationship with God strengthens our marriages and helps give us guidance when facing life’s challenges. I’ve seen many relationships falter because two people didn’t share the same beliefs—or more often, because they chose not to discuss how their faith and relationship with God has changed over time. I’ve also seen many marriages strengthened because the couple took the time to regularly discuss their faith, and of course, because they’ve leaned on each other through tough times when their mutual faith was shaken.

In my own marriage, this has definitely been an interesting journey.  When my husband and I met and married, neither of us were practicing Christians.  Faith was not at all a part of our life.  Eventually we began going to church, but talking about the changes that were happening in each of our hearts was much more difficult.  It was awkward to talk about God when we never had before.  It has taken us years to learn how to share our faith with each other, and often we are still learning.  That said, by allowing our faith to shape and strengthen our marriage, by praying together, attending services or discussing our beliefs, we keep our marriage a spiritual journey and connection, beyond just the physical and emotional.

*   *   *

Marriage can be hard, there’s no doubt about that.  But it is much, much harder when communication is not a part of the equation.  Regular conversations about the things that matter most will make all the difference, and if any of these things are topics you and your spouse haven’t discussed lately, make a date and make it a priority–I promise you won’t regret it!

Conversations Every Couple Needs to Have | Better Marriage Tips | Relationship Hacks | Relationship Advice

29 Comments

  1. February 6 at 09:35AM

    My husband and I fought constantly for 23 years. For the past 11 years we rarely fight and lately, not at all. I don’t think we should be arguing and fighting in marriage. The Bible is full of admonitions against it. My best friend has NEVER fought with her husband. I wrote about it in this post and challenged my readers to go 30 days not fighting with their spouse. It radically changes a marriage. Arguing does not accomplish the righteous life that God desires. It’s a bad habit that CAN be broken! Here is my challenge to my readers ~

    http://lorialexander.blogspot.com/2013/02/they-never-argue.html

    • Anonymous
      September 8 at 10:19PM

      I think your sentiment is lovely, but I certainly hope you aren’t suggesting we brush our own issues under the rug and just soldier on for the sake of keeping the other person happy and maintaining the marriage? I ask because you referred to the bible, and I know the bible often asks women to put their own needs second to make many, many things work.

      What were the circumstances that brought your “constant” fighting of 23 years to an end? It didn’t just stop surely.

      While I agree that constant fighting is both ugly and destructive, the issues still need to be brought to light, and make no mistake, we ALL have issues. You mentioned that your friend and her husband “never” fight. I find that claim to be dubious, unless they have perfect communication. When two people live under the same roof within the confines of what most adults consider marriage, there are bound to be disagreements, friction, hurt feelings, disappointments, resentment, and anger. All of these things are workable, with really good communication, but unfortunately most couples don’t seem to know what this is. Perhaps your friends do.

      As a veteran of a 27 year marriage that has survived the blending of families, job losses, many family deaths, bankruptcy, and the birth and raising of a profoundly disabled child, I know what it takes to make a difficult situation work. After 27 years, we are still best friends, still in love, and lust, with eachother, still spending nearly every free moment together, and still look forward to each day together. I also know, however, that if I was shy or repressive about my feelings, wants, needs, concerns, and complaints, this marriage would have ended long ago.

      • Anonymous
        January 26 at 09:43PM

        Amen!! To that sister!! U took the words right out of my mouth my exact same thoughts rang out in my head !!

    • Robin
      May 25 at 12:29AM

      What are you suppose to do when your husband won’t argue with you or have a discussion with you. Anytime something ones up that is not his idea or that he wants to talk about He always says ” Here we go again” or “There’s nothing to talk about You are gonna see it your way & I am going to see it mine.”
      Or he always tried to blame everything on me always having to have it my way!” I promise Nothing could be further from the truth! I mean I’m not perfect & Who doesn’t like to get things their way from time to time? I do NOT Always get my way &Have NOT Ever always gotten my way ! Very seldom in fact!
      I dont know what to do! Weve been married 18 years & been together 19. We still have 4 kids at home. We have 7 kids between the 2 of us plus we adopted his 2 grand daughters 10 yes ago because of my stepdaughter’a drug abuse.

  2. February 6 at 03:29PM

    Thank you so much for the reminder to set up a will. My husband and I are in our mid-thirties and more debt than assets, but we really need to settle things so that in the event something happens to us our daughter will be well cared for. Ugh. It’s so terrible to think about, but I’m so glad you threw it out there.

    http://www.theblessedmessy.com

  3. February 6 at 04:09PM

    What a great post. I don’t pretend to have a perfect marriage, but I’m pretty confident that we are having all these conversations, which I think is a good indication that we’re in the right direction.

    • Anonymous
      September 28 at 03:59AM

      For Those Who Love Each Other and Want To Stay Together and Be Happy.

  4. February 7 at 09:48AM

    My best friend Sammi was just telling me yesterday that there are subjects that SHOULD MAKE US BLUSH. I won’t fill you in on what we were talking about, but it did have to do with marriage 😉 I find that it is sometimes easier to discuss these things with a close girlfriend than with your spouse, but I agree with you that it is important.

    I remember how it made me feel as a child when my father said I am SORRY. It stuck. Saying sorry is important. I try to always say I am sorry when I am wrong, but it takes courage each and every time. Great reminders for a happy & healthy marriage. Thanks!

  5. February 10 at 07:57PM

    I love, love, love this encouragement for married couples. I’ll be sharing this post on my blog’s Facebook page later this week. These are great topics for discussion on a Valentine’s date! Except maybe #6…that one can wait for another time. 😉 Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. February 13 at 10:11AM

    This is such a great list! Though, I do have to admit the end of life care is one of my least favorite things to talk abuot. Absolutely essential, but such a downer. I’d much rather talk about how we’d spend out lottery winnings (all $2 worth haha) 🙂

  7. Tonya
    March 6 at 08:09PM

    9. Lack of faith as well is important. There are a great number of people like my husband and I who are not religious. It’s nice to talk about our secular humanist views as well.

    • Anonymous
      February 29 at 08:37AM

      I don’t believe a couple must share the same religious beliefs as long as both respect the others points of view and can talk openly about them.
      Some views have alot of parallels.

  8. April 7 at 01:55PM

    Great post! I particularly agree with the financial stuff. My first marriage was full of money fights because we had drastically different spending habits and financial goals. I can’t believe the difference in my second marriage just because of this one little issue. We are on the same page about finances and it sets the tone for so many other decisions in our lives. PS. Highly recommend Financial Peace Classes – Dave Ramsey rocks!

  9. Beth
    September 12 at 07:52PM

    One tradition that my husband and I have is to go out to our favorite, romantic restaurant on our anniversary to hold our “state of the Union address” and discuss just about all of these areas. While we discuss these topics throughout the year, we know that we will have this time alone to bring up anything important. It’s a nice opportunity to bring up sticky topics, and after a couple of glasses of wine, we’ve both said what we need to and can get on with #8 and #7!

  10. October 11 at 09:33AM

    We must admit that no marriage is perfect but we are trying our best to make it the best marriage thet it can be. By letting God to be the center of each marriage, it is him who’s going to make every marriage perfect. Thanks for your post.

  11. October 28 at 02:59PM

    This is a beautiful post. Great reminders to keep open communication in your marriage. I find it is always a struggle to keep parenting styles in sync in my own marriage. It is something that we are constantly tweaking and working on. I also love the suggestion of talking about what makes you blush. Never thought to do that! I think we will try it. Thanks for another wonderful post!

  12. Anonymous
    February 29 at 08:40AM

    I don’t believe a couple must share the same religious beliefs as long as both respect the others points of view and can talk openly about them.
    Some views have alot of parallels.

  13. Angry
    April 24 at 01:00AM

    All of these sounds great, but what do you do when your spouse doesn’t want to have these discussions??

  14. August 18 at 11:38PM

    Yes! These are ALL so important! I’m an especially big fan of talking about the things that bother you. Sometimes I feel petty bringing things up while they’re so small, but I know that if I continue to let it build up, I’ll explode one day and my poor husband will be blindsided and asking, “Where did that come from?!” It’s not fair to either of us. Communication is definitely the key!

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