By Dr. Karen Gless, Ph.D.
What happens if you decide that being in love is not something that happens to you, but something that you do? Many couples who have been together for many years feel like they are stuck in a loveless relationship and they are just going through the motions. This can happen when a couple is caught up in getting their careers going and raising children. There is so much to do that they lose contact with each other and then wake up and wonder, “Who is this stranger I’m living with?”
It can also happen through neglect. You went through the excitement of courtship, fell in love and then moved in together and maybe got married. After that you settled into a routine and somewhere along the line the love you felt for each other faded away.
Then loneliness and longing for a better life set in. a loveless relationship can feel pretty hopeless. But it isn’t necessarily over. Here’s a way to strike a spark that can reignite your love.
Surprising Research Results
In 1997 a researcher into social relationships at the New York State University at Stony Brook, Arthur Aron, conducted an experiment in dating to see if a couple that had never met together could be attracted to each other just by asking a series of increasingly intimate questions.
The amazing result was that it worked. Couples who answered intimate questions about their lives and feelings felt more attracted to each other than those who just engaged in small talk. The special thing is that it can also work for couples who have grown distant over time.
Setting it up
So here’s the deal. To start transforming your loveless relationship you want to set up a time to be together without interruptions and go through the questions. About an hour should be long enough. If you find that you get into a discussion of some of the questions and it takes you longer, that’s great! This isn’t a quiz show. It’s about getting to know each other again.
There are some ground rules. First of all, don’t get into issues that have caused arguments. This is not a time to try to work through problems. You are doing this to learn some new things about each other and reconnect.
Approach the session with a sense of curiosity. You may think you know everything about each other, but you may be in for some surprises. Even couples who have been together for 20 years can still learn something new about each other.
Keep in mind that this in just the beginning. You don’t completely recharge a loveless relationship in a couple of hours. While couples who go through these questions discover that they can have loving feelings for each other, they need more to keep on track and fully revive their relationship.
That’s why I created my course, Keep your Love Light Burning for a Happily Ever After, which plugs partners into each other for lasting and deepening love. The course takes that spark and turns it into a fire that keeps both of you full of warm, loving thoughts and feelings for each other. Check out my site and find out how my exciting new approach to relationships and marriage has helped other couples like you.
Some of the questions have been altered from the original set, mainly because you have been together for years and really do know quite a bit about each other. And if it takes more time than you expect, then schedule another session.
You may want to set up something to do after the session like go on a date and have some fun together. So here’s an opportunity to get to know each other all over again and discover how interesting the person you are living with can be.
This first set of questions for turning a loveless relationship around doesn’t probe too deeply and give you a chance to get your feet wet.
1. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
2. Describe what a “perfect” day would be for you?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
5. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
6. Name three things we have in common.
7. What do you feel most grateful for in your life?
8. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
9. If you could wake up tomorrow with one new quality or ability, what would it be?
10. Take four minutes and tell me your life story before we met in as much detail as possible. (This may take longer. That’s OK.)
The second set of questions brings more warmth into a loveless relationship by tapping into deeper feelings.
11. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
12. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
13. What do you value most in a friendship?
14. What is your most treasured memory?
15. What is your most frightening memory?
16. What does friendship mean to you?
17. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
18. Take turns sharing something positive about each other. Share a total of five items.
19. How close and warm is your family?
20. Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
The third and final set of questions begins to awaken deeper feelings that start to turn a loveless relationship around. You begin to explore what really matters to you.
21. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling _______.”
22. Complete this sentence: “I would like to share _______ with someone.”
23. Share a secret desire or hope with your partner.
24. Tell your partner what you like about him or her.
25. Share an embarrassing moment in your life.
26. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
27. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
28. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
29. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
30. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
It is OK to take your time going through these questions by doing some and coming back to do more at a different time. If instead of helping you feel closer you begin to fight or feel more stuck it may be time to read our books and take my courses.
Karen Gless, Ph.D.