Questions and Conversations – asking questions and sharing thoughtfully creates intimacy between a couple. Last month I wrote about ways to create a conversation with your spouse. (You can read that post here.) That post had resources and links to questions. I’m still adding to the Pinterest board I created with all the links, because people seem to be interested. (They’re still pining, anyway!)
I found a new set of questions!
These are 36 questions that came from a research study by a group of five researchers, including a husband and wife team, Arthur & Elaine Aron. They’re social psychology researchers at New York State University at Stony Brook .
The results were published in a paper called, “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings” in 1997. In the study, they used a set of these 36 “closeness generating questions” for some participants, and other questions for participants listed as “small talk”.
From their research study, this team discovered that strangers can spend about 45 minutes discussing the answers to the 36 closeness generating questions – in their specific order – and leave feeling a connection great enough that they would like to meet again. (as opposed to the small-talk questions which didn’t elicit much.)
Here are the 36 Questions, also called “The Sharing Game” by Arthur Aron.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell you partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “we are both in this room feeling…”
26. Complete this sentence “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them: be honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. 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?
34. 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?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
~ questions by Arthur Aron – also called “The Sharing Game” Read the whole research study HERE
This study was done with strangers. They were paired up and instructed to take turns asking each other these questions and both would answer. They left after an hour, feeling a strong closeness and some even exchanged contact information.
Not all of us have close relationships with our spouse – sometimes we’re in that winter season of marriage where we’re feeling a bit of distance. Imagine what could happen if we went slowly to explore a few of these questions, over time, in a gentle way… (Only you’ll know if this is a good idea for you and your spouse.)
Or, perhaps we’re in a summer season of our married life where our relationship is blossoming. Imagine the fun we could have, delving deeply.
Do you already know the answers?
You might already know the answers to some of these questions – or think you do! I know that I’ll be bringing this list along on our drive up to Canada to celebrate Christmas! I’ll let you know how it goes!
PS – Here’s an article from the New York Times, explaining more studies Dr. Aron has done. It’s titled, “Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples”. This might explain why Robert and I are feeling like we’re on a honeymoon again, traveling with our truck and 5th wheel, after 30 years of marriage! LOL