Putting meaningful conversation back into your marriageWritten by Brandy Bruce
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"We never talk anymore," I complained.
My husband, Jeff, looked at me, confused. "We’re talking now, aren’t we?"
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. I thought back to those early days when we were dating and could talk on the phone for hours. What did we talk about back then? Whatever it was, we seemed to have covered every subject and now had nothing to say.
After nearly five years of dating and five years of marriage – an entire decade filled with laughter and tears and unforgettable moments – we somehow had a hard time finding anything meaningful to talk about. Sure, we came in from work every evening and gave each other a summary of our day. But is that the best we can do? I wondered.
"Once you have kids, you’ll have plenty to talk about," people told me. Did we really have to wait until children entered the picture to have regular conversation? I hoped not.
I decided to do something about our problem. I asked Jeff if we could set aside the following Wednesday evening to have dinner together at home. No TV, no cell phones, no distractions. Just the two of us, enjoying dinner and conversation. He seemed skeptical at first but agreed to our designated talking date.
In preparation, I made a list of topics to discuss. As I wrote down ideas, I kept thinking, Lord, is this pathetic or what? After all this time together, I have to make a list of things for us to talk about. Why is this so hard?
Then, like a bolt from above, it occurred to me: Why did I expect it to be so easy? Relationships take effort – and wasn’t this relationship worth the effort?
As we sat down at the kitchen table that Wednesday evening, I pulled out my notepad, hoping Jeff wouldn’t balk at the list of topics. To my surprise, he looked over the list with interest. He even had ideas he wanted to add. Before I knew it, we were talking just like we used to.
We both mentioned more than once how nice it was to talk to each other. We suddenly realized what had happened without us noticing: Conversation had been pushed aside by other things – television, the Internet, chores, careers, social obligations. And we wanted it back. For the first time, we understood that we had to be intentional about talking.
To make conversation easier, we began brainstorming ways to combine our different interests. I love to read. Jeff doesn’t. But he found that he enjoys audio books. So now we talk about what we’re reading or listening to.
Jeff enjoys working with numbers and taking care of our finances. I avoid numbers as much as possible, but I like to set goals. By making plans for the future and talking through the financial aspects of those goals, we’ve found a common ground for discussion.
We both love to watch movies. Now we spend time talking about the themes, characters and our opinions after we’ve watched a film. We also joined a Bible-study group through our church. Each week we get to talk about what we’ve studied and how it applies to us.
A simple list of discussion starters helped us find a part of our relationship that had been missing. And while we might not have all-night discussions the way we did those first few months of our relationship, that’s OK.
Sometimes we forget that we keep growing and changing throughout our lives. We’re not the same people we were 10 years ago – or even five years ago. These days, as Jeff and I discuss politics, faith, social issues, family issues, even entertainment preferences, I’m realizing that we’re still getting to know one another. And maybe in some ways, we always will be.
Brandy Bruce lived in Castle Rock, Colorado, with her husband, Jeff, at the time of publication.
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