Mastering communication in a relationship is key. Not only does it make every day easier — and every fight easier— it shows a solid understanding of each other and willingness to be frank and open. “Healthy communication in a relationship is important because it is the foundation of any partnership. Having the confidence to talk openly with your partner, regardless of whether the subject matter is positive or negative, is one of the true signs that you and your partner are practicing healthy communication,” dating expert and matchmaker Sarah Patt tells Bustle. “Listening, actually hearing what your partner is saying, and processing and responding without reacting overly emotionally is a sign that you are truly understanding what your partner has to say to you."
It's a necessary foundation, but it can also be so much more than that. Once you've mastered your relationship communication, it can actually be a great tool for bringing you closer together. You learn how to speak to each other, how to actively listen, and the discussions that come with these skills are great for bonding.
Here are seven questions for bonding with your partner, because checking in counts:
1. "How Are You?"
Don't underestimate the importance of just checking in with your partner when it comes to making you feel closer together. Taking time to just ask how someone's doing — in more than a rhetorical way— is so important and makes your partner know that you're present. A proper moment of touching base each day will do wonders for how strong your relationship is.
2. "What's Your Fantasy?"
Sharing things you may not have shared with someone else or that are sexual and intimate is a great way to bring you and your partner closer. One perfect question to ask your partner? "What is your fantasy?", psychologist Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "You have to be willing to be open and honest, and the partner has to be willing to grant and try what they share." But if you're in an open-minded place, go for it.
3. "How Can I Be There For You When Things Are Tough?"
Couples really cut their teeth during the difficult periods, but everybody responds to hard times differently. If you learn what your partner needs when they're not doing well, it'll make you so much stronger. "The one conversation a couple can have in order to build intimacy is to ask: How can I help you when you're suffering?"clinical hypnotherapist, author and educator Rachel Astarte, who offers transformational coaching for individuals and couples at Healing Arts New York, tells Bustle. "How would you like me to react … when you are in pain?"
4. "How Do You Think Your Relationship With Your Family Affects You Now?"
"I feel that discussing each other's childhoods can really build an intimate bond between partners," Rob Alex, who created Sexy Challenges and Mission Date Night with his wife, tells Bustle. "Expressing how you felt as a child and things that hurt you when you were young gives your partner a real insight into what shaped you as a adult."
You can share things about your childhoods, but if you've known each other a while you may know most of it already. It's always good to check in and see how their family or childhood is affecting their lives now.
5. "How Are You Feeling About Us?"
For people who have a hard time with opening up or confrontation, giving them a chance to voice how their feeling about the relationship is so important. You either end up feeling more secure because you both know it's going well — or you make your relationship stronger by airing out and working on any issues they hadn't felt comfortable to bring up.
6. "Are You Feeling Fulfilled?"
Sometimes, even if you've known someone a long time, you need to ask the big picture questions. "What gives you meaning?" Dr. Ramani Durvasula, author of Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With A Narcissist , tells Bustle. "It's heavy, but if a person can't answer that, then it is not likely to be that deep a ride."
The thing is, what makes you fulfilled changes over time — it may be family at one time, work at another, or hobbies and friends. Talking about what gives you fulfillment — and whether or not you're getting enough of it— is great for you as individuals and as a couple.
7. "Where Do You Want To Be In Two Years?"
Goals are amazing ways to focus and inspire you. Find out what both of you want in the short- or medium-term and then help each other to get there. Not only will the conversation help bring you together, working on a goal— as a couple or as two individuals supporting each other — gives you a sustained project to bond over.
And once you discuss these questions, don't let the conversation end there. As Patt says, "Healthy communication also means being able to move forward after a conversation, together, and create a stronger foundation."
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