You’ve been together for a few years. That lovin’ feeling is still there, but that new relationship spark is long gone. You feel like you know everything there is to know about your partner.
…But you’re wrong. And assuming you know all is part of what’s got you in this rut, according to relationship therapist Harville Hendrix, PhD. In a recent piece for The Huffington Post, the therapist hailed as the “Marriage Whisperer” by Oprah says you should skip the big romantic gestures like elaborate anniversary plans and expensive getaways. Instead, he writes, get curious:
“When you’re curious, you learn new things about your mate — his desires, fears and struggles. You’ll hear secrets, wishes, regrets. You’ll learn practical things, like what she really would like to do on her birthday. Even if you’ve known each other for years, you’d be surprised how much there still is to know about your partner.”
So how do you get to discover those exciting new things about your significant other? The trick is to really listen. “Think truthfully about what “listening” typically looks like for you,” writes Hendrix. “Are you watching TV on the couch half-attentive while your wife unloads about her pressures at work? Are you busy playing with the dog while your husband tells you excitedly about an interesting conversation he had that day?”
Give your partner your undivided attentions and you’ll find that the favor is quickly returned. Plus, says Hendrix, “really demonstrating curiosity toward your partner, and seeing it returned to you, will remind you of the early days of your courtship, when finding out new things about each other was a constant thrill. Over time you will find yourself feeling more open, supported and supportive.”
Try it today after work: Turn off the distractions and turn your attention to your partner. Let them talk, ask questions, rinse, and repeat. Then, share things about your day—often, sharing first will encourage the other person to open up. And resist the urge to go on autopilot…surely you can say more than “my day was fine,” right? “Sharing is caring” is a cliche for a reason…it’s true!