Dinner Conversations

By Ellyn Bader, Ph.D., and Peter Pearson, Ph.D.

In our job as therapists we deal with serious problems and challenges that couples face. Of course, we are passionate about  our work because we love to help couples solve their marriage problems. However, our work is not completely focused on problems.   In fact, we do a lot with couples to help them actively enrich and nurture their relationships. Often, in the midst of marriage   counseling, couples gain a renewed appreciation and love for each other.

Inspired by the many couples we have worked with over the years, we came up with the following ten questions to help you enrich, nourish, and support your relationship. Use these questions to remind yourself of what’s good and shining about your partner, and to become more aware of your partner and what you can do to affect their world. We also encourage you to ask these questions to reconnect with your partner’s dreams.

We propose that the next time you are out to dinner, you set aside your usual conversation topics. Don’t talk about the kids, the in-laws, work, politics, diets, money, or the every day problems you struggle with. Instead, gently suggest to your partner that you both try something different. Hopefully, your partner will be game and you can then ask as many of the following questions as you like:

Question #1: What are 5 things that are uniquely “you?”

Question #2: What are 5 big dreams you want to fulfill?

Question #3: What are 5 things you love about your life?

Question #4: What are 5 things you could fix or change in the world?

Question #5: What are 5 ways you positively affect those around you?

Question #6: What are 10 things that fill you with joy?

Question #7: What are 5 dreams you want to fulfill?

Question #8: What are 10 things you’d like to do before you die?

Question #9: What are 5 things you are grateful for?

Question #10: What are 5 things you could teach others?

Another variation on this exercise would be to imagine and write down your partner’s responses before you pose these questions. Compare your thoughts with their actual answers – this will stimulate interesting discussion.

These questions are a different way to learn about your partner – and yourself. We hope you will enjoy this unique process of rediscovering each other and enriching your marriage at the same time.