Thich Nhat Hanh says that “If you do not give right attention to the one you love, it is a kind of killing…assuming you already know everything about her/him, she/he will slowly die.”
How well do you know your mate? Not how they like their eggs or their favorite drink, but who they are, how they came to be who they are, and who they expect you to be? Usually these lists are put together for couples engaged to be married, but I think if you’re investing your time and emotions into someone, having these conversations are worthwhile. You can spend years living with someone without ever truly knowing them.
Before engaging these questions with your partner, I recommend reviewing them and reflecting on yourself first. Some of these questions you may have never thought about. When asking your partner these questions, be open to their responses and try not to take anything personal. This is their perspective and the goal is to learn and grow. You may want to read the How to Create a Safe Space for Communication post before tackling these questions. Don’t make any assumptions, you may learn something new about your partner that helps your relationship.
Couples with Children and/or Couples Who Want Children
- Do you want (more) kids? How many? When?
- What traditions would you like for our children to practice (religions, holidays, family traditions)?
- Would you trust your family with our children? Why or why not?
- How much time would you like our children to spend with your family?
- How do you plan to discipline our children?
Couples who Live Together
- How would you like to divide the household chores?
- How would you like to divide the household expenses?
- If you could move anywhere, where would you move?
- Would you move for the right opportunity? How far?
- Are you comfortable with moving often? If so, how often and how far?
- Do you have debt? How much?
- How do you handle your finances?
- Savings: Are you in a position to save? Do you save?
- Spending: How often do you splurge? On what? What do you view as needs vs. wants?
- Earnings: How much do you need to earn to cover your expenses? Are you expecting me to cover your expenses (now or one day)? If you lost your job how long could you afford your expenses?
- Are you satisfied with the work you currently do? If not, why?
- What’s your biggest goal in life right now? What steps do you think are required to attain that goal? Which of these steps are you currently taking?
- What are you struggling with (choose from: spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, or all)?
- How can I help you attain your goals or become a better person in general?
Friends and Family
- How comfortable are you with my friends and my closeness to them?
- Are you still friends with anyone you’ve shared intimacy with? What is our plan for befriending people from our past?
- Do you talk to other people about our relationship? What is our policy for talking to others about our relationship?
- Are you happy with your relationship with your family? Are you happy with my relationship with your family? If not, how could it be improved upon and how can I support this improvement?
- Think about your childhood, what did your parents or guardians teach you about gender roles, expectations and norms?
- What did your parent or guardians teach you about how to treat the people you are intimate with or the person you love?
- How do these lessons play out in our relationship?
Emotional and Physical Health
- Has anyone ever caused emotional or physical harm to you? How so?
- Have you ever caused anyone emotional or physical harm? How so?
- If so, have you healed that emotional wound yet? How so?
- Does anything in our relationship trigger those feelings for you?
- Do you have any regrets (about us or your life)?
- Do you have any health concerns for yourself or for me (diet, smoking, drinking, etc)? When was the last time you received a physical and STI test?
- How do you practice self-care? (If they don’t) Why don’t you practice self-care?
Behaviors and Preferences
- How do you handle stress? What’s calming for you? How do you communicate when you’re stressed?
- In what areas are you most selfish?
- In what areas are you most giving?
- What are your strengths and areas of development?
- What do you believe are my strengths and areas of development?
- What forum are you most comfortable having difficult conversations in (in person, text, phone, letters)?
- Are there things you are not ready to give up for this relationship?
- How much alone time do you need?
- How do you prefer to express affection and for affection to be expressed towards you?
- How often would you like to make love?
- Are there things we are not doing, sexually, that you would like to try?
- Do you watch porn? How often? (If you’re the porn watcher) Are you comfortable with how often I watch porn? (LOL “porn watcher” I’m sorry. I’ll grow up one day)
- Do you have a sense of your purpose in life? If so, what is it? If not, is finding it important?
- What are your unique gifts?
- What are your spiritual or religious beliefs, if any, and what do they mean to your life? How important is it to you for me to participate in your spiritual/religious practices?
- Finish this sentence. “I feel loved by you when…”
- Finish this sentence. “I feel taken for granted by you when…”
- How do you feel about the way I speak to you? (If it is negative…) How can I speak to you in a way that you hear my true intentions better?
- How important is my physical appearance? Are there things about my appearance currently that dissatisfy you (dress, hair, weight)?
- Do you fully trust my commitment to you? If not, what can we do to improve the trust in our relationship?
I hope you find these questions useful for your relationship. Remember, ask lovingly and listen lovingly.