10 Questions to Ask Your Spouse Besides “How Was Your Day?”
How was your day?
It is hard to even read those words without mentally finishing the ‘sentence’ in your mind. “Fine.”
That exchange isn’t a conversation, it is a script.
Creating intimacy (that is knowing your partner, and your partner knowing you) happens when you get to hear what your partner is thinking about. Conversation is the key to experiencing your partner’s internal world, which leads to intimacy. However, a script doesn’t give you insight to what your partner is thinking or feeling, but promises intimacy and delivers frustration when you don’t feel any closer after talking.
Good conversation has the power to bring two people together. This is a list of 10 questions to replace the script of “How was your day?” with a conversation about your partner’s world
Using these questions to spark a conversation
These questions are each designed to spark a conversation. After every question, there is a section discussing the intent of the question and maybe some follow up questions to add to the discussion. However, the key to good discussion is listening to your partner's response and asking a question based on what they just said.
Conversation flows more naturally when you used open-ended questions. Where a close-ended question can be answered usually with one word. “Yes.” “Steve.” “4:30pm.” Whereas an open-ended question requires a lengthier (and usually more thought out) response.
So, pick a question, wait for your spouse to walk through the door, and get ready to practically create intimacy.
1. What was an expected occurrence in your day?
What was surprising or unusual? Your partner probably spent time thinking about this event because it was not part of the routine. The incident probably randomly popped into their mind several times during their day even if it was something as small as seeing a new restaurant open on their route to work or bumping into a friend at the grocery store. If it is what your spouse is thinking about, then it is worth asking about!
2. What happened today that would make it in a montage?
This question is aimed at uncovering what they thought the highlights of their day were. Yes, they may have spent 8 hours typing at their desk, but maybe the montage in their mind revolves around the little smiles and conversations with co-workers or the thousand little inconveniences of office life.
3. How you do wish today would have gone differently?
This is a conversation starter that not only addresses frustrations, but does so in a positive fashion that also focuses on solutions to the day’s problems. Instead of getting caught in “This was terrible, that was terrible,” the conversation can move to listening to your spouse create a solution for the potential reoccurrence of the frustration. The key here being “listening to your spouse create.” Make sure you don’t jump into problem solving for them unless they invite you.
4. What are you most proud/happy to have accomplished today?
It feels good to share what you are proud of with the one you love! Nothing is too small to celebrate, and how you respond as a spouse is everything. Even if your partner doesn’t care what other people think, they picked you and how you respond has the potential to breathe life into them. So even if you think they should have accomplished more, take a breath, and celebrate their successes with them.
5. When were you most alive today?
The adjective can be easily swapped out in this question based on what feels most meaningful to you and your partner. Some other great adjectives to switch in could be content, frustrated, passionate, or peaceful.
6. What was motivating you to make it to this evening?
What is driving your spouse? You may know the answer to this question in an overarching resume-answer type of way, but what makes them get out of bed on a day-to-day basis? When they are tired or burnt out what do they use as a pick-me-up? When you know what motivates or inspires your spouse, you can proactively be their biggest encourager and support.
7. Who did you interact today? How would you like to be more or less like that person?
What you admire in other people is what you want to become yourself. What you like and dislike about others is often a window into your own values. This question gives you a glimpse into what your spouse values and often wants to become.
8. What growth did you notice in yourself (or someone else) today?
There is little time in day-to-day life to notice the small changes in yourself or others, and yet noticing growth is one of the biggest motivators to continuing to work on change. By taking the time to hold a mirror up for your spouse, you are non-confrontationally reminding them to think about who they want to become, giving them space to be proud of change, and motivating them to continue to grow.
9. What did I do that made you feel loved today?
Time to take notes! If you know your spouse’s love language, you might notice a theme in their answers. If you think you know their love language, but their answer is consistently different, it might be a good time to ask them about that change. Regardless, this question is always a great way to find out what in the marriage is going right (and do more of it!)
10. How satisfied are you with the day you had? How would you like to finish out your day?
Time to step in and practically make your partner’s dreams come true. While you don’t need to be your partner’s fairy godmother, you get the opportunity to fulfil your partner’s needs in a very practical way. Do your best to hear what they ask for and help them get that need met. If they sense your generosity in moving to meet their needs, they are also more likely to reciprocate that generosity and care for you. Stinginess is a result of feeling like you need to bunker down and meet your own needs cause no one else will. Choosing to initiate generosity is the best way to counteract stinginess in relationship.
These 10 questions are a form of relational generosity. You are choosing to move beyond a script and work to know your spouse’s world. You are initiating conversation and giving your spouse the gift of feeling seen, known, and important. You are practically building intimacy.
Erin is a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate with Counseling at the Green House. She is specializes in seeing couples, children, cross-cultural couples, and intercultural transitions.