10 Conversation Starters for Long Term Relationships

You and your partner go out to dinner. The night starts off great – you talk a bit about what happened at work today, you discuss your kids or pets for a minute, maybe you mention a story one of your mutual friends told you. And then, right when the waiter has cleared away your appetizer, your conversation lulls and eventually completely stops. Has this ever happened to you?

It’s nothing to be ashamed or worried about – if you get the chance to spend a lot of time with your significant other, you probably also have a lot of time to talk about everything under the sun. You’re bound to run out of conversation topics occasionally!

Here are 10 suggestions to spark conversations in those moments. We’ve written them here in question format, but you could definitely bring them up in a less formal manner – for instance, for the first one, you could just say something like “You know, if I could swap places with anyone in the world, I think it would be a schoolteacher in Australia. What about you?”

  1. If you could swap places with anyone in the world for a day, who would you swap with? What would you do?
  2. If you had been given the chance to choose your name at age 7, what would you have chosen? What would you have chosen in college? What would you choose now? Why?
  3. What movie (or book or TV show) was about something completely different than you expected? What did you expect it to be about?
  4. If you could relive any experience for the first time, what would it be?
  5. If you could learn any skill in the world, what would it be? Bonus points: remember their answer and give them lessons in that skill as a future gift – or start looking up places right away and sign up together!
  6. Has anything paranormal (or paranormal-seeming) ever happened to you? What did you think? How did you react?
  7. What’s your earliest memory?
  8. What traditions did you have growing up that you want to continue with your family? Are there any ones you want to stop, or new ones you want to create?
  9. What season is your favorite? Why?
  10. If you could have a meal created by one celebrity chef, who would it be? What do you think they’d put on the menu?

Of course, a new and exciting date night activity can also help make sure you don’t run out of things to talk about. Not sure what to do with your partner? We’ve got you covered!

One Easy Trick To Avoid Arguments About Dinner

It’s an argument as old as time: What should we do for dinner? (or any other meal). Maybe one member of the relationship is more indecisive than the other, or perhaps your taste in food completely differs. Either way, if you find yourself in constant arguments about food – this trick is for you.

It’s called the 3-2-1 trick, and it’s simple – one member of the couple picks 3 meal options (“Order Chinese, that pizza place down the street or leftovers”) and then the other member eliminates one option (“Eliminate the pizza place.”). The first member of the couple then picks from the remaining two options. This can, of course, be modified in a variety of ways – you could start with 4 or 5 options, you could do it twice, once to pick the type of food and once to pick the restaurant, etc. It’s very flexible!

Of course, this method isn’t perfect – there are a few things that both members of the relationship need to be willing to do. For one thing, they need to agree to try out this method in the first place. If one member of the couple is unwilling to even try eliminating an option or picking 3 options, then this trick is unfortunately a non-starter.

Both members also need to be willing to accept whatever the final meal choice is. No sulking or getting mad that they didn’t secretly pick the one you wanted! If this is something you or your partner might do, then it’s best to keep track of who had the final pick last time, and make sure to alternate – that way, everyone gets a turn picking dinner.

So there you have it – a nice, simple trick to avoid those strangely messy meal-time arguments. Next time you find yourself in one, give it a try!

Want another quick tip on avoiding meal arguments? Have Crescent plan your date!

Are you making this one huge relationship mistake?

There are a million obvious things that will damage or kill a relationship – problems with money, not seeing eye to eye on how to raise children, differences in religion. However, there is one huge, yet subtle, mistake many people are making every day in their relationship: not picking up enough of the emotional labor.

This is one of more insidious relationship-killers out there, because generally one partner will think everything’s fine and the other will struggle to explain what exactly isn’t fine about everything. This continues until the second partner has had enough and leaves or blows up at the first partner, leaving no one happy and both confused.

Read on to make sure your relationship doesn’t face this fate.

What is Emotional Labor?

Let’s go ahead and define the term. There are a few ways to define emotional labor (and a few contexts it can be defined in), but I think the easiest is by examples. Ask yourself:

  • Who in our household notices that the trash needs to be emptied, the laundry needs to be folded, or the dog needs to be fed?
  • Which one of us remembers to get presents or cards ahead of special events?
  • Does only one of us have a “calendar” in their head of all of our upcoming obligations, or is only one of us responsible for making fun plans or planning vacations?
  • Is one of us better at recognizing when the other is having a bad day and go above and beyond when necessary?

It is common, when reading about emotional labor, to hear about scenarios where women are shouldering the majority of the burden. However, there are plenty of relationships where men are shouldering it instead.

Why is any of that stuff important anyway?

If you read the above list and wondered “Well, sure, my partner notices all that stuff, but I don’t understand why – it’s not that important,” then you may not be taking on an equal share of the emotional labor in the relationship.

The truth is, someone has to take care of many of those things or something suffers – maybe an appointment gets missed or a relative feels hurt or forgotten. Maybe you get bugs in the house. Whatever the consequence is – it will happen. And, in scenarios where one partner carries the majority of the emotional labor, they will likely be the one cleaning up the mess after the consequence hits (because, of course, the other partner won’t understand why the consequence is such a big deal), and the cycle will continue.

How do I get better at this?

Okay, so now you suspect that you may not be pulling your emotional labor weight in your relationship. What do you do now? First of all, you should start by trying to think of times you felt like your partner was “nagging” you or getting worked up over something you thought was silly. You will likely find one or two things that you can improve.

Can’t think of anything? The next best step is to talk to your partner. It can be as simple as “I want to help out around the house more, can we talk about what chores need to be done?” Here’s the most important part though – once a chore is deemed “yours” you need to do it at whatever schedule you committed to. If it’s something that can’t be done at specific intervals (taking out the trash, maybe), set a reminder on your phone to check on it at least once or twice a day. If it needs to get done, get it done.

If you want to surprise your partner or just make some quick improvements, try:

  • Making sure you’re prepared for any birthdays, anniversaries, etc coming up in the next 1-2 months. Many presents can be bought far in advance, so there’s no harm in buying early and hiding it in the house. We have some great gift guides available if you need ideas!
  • Before you go to work or after you get home, try checking on the following: counters (are they dirty?), dishes (do they need to be put in or taken out of the dishwasher?), and trash/recycling (is it full?). Generally, these are all fairly easy tasks to complete and it can really brighten someone’s day to find out they’re done!
  • Plan a special date night for your partner. Need ideas? Not a great planner? Worried you’ll be stuck in the dinner and movie rut? We’re here for you!

Learning More

Here are some more articles about emotional labor. Remember that, though many of these articles refer to women as being the sole bearers of emotional labor, that may not be true in all cases.

 

Relationship Foundations: Love Languages

Does it ever feel like you and your partner aren’t on the same page? It could be due to a difference in Love Languages – the way in which you express and prefer to receive affection. We generally express love in the way we’d prefer to receive it. Unfortunately, sometimes that can cause feelings of neglect if our partner doesn’t perceive these actions as acts of love.

There are five main love languages – do you recognize you or your partner in any of these descriptions?

Words of Affirmation
People who prefer words of affirmation generally enjoy compliments, gratitude, or general acknowledgement.

Acts of Service
People who prefer acts of service generally enjoy when their partner takes care of things around the house or runs errands.

Receiving Gifts
People who prefer receiving gifts love getting bouquets or chocolates – even remembering to pick up their favorite snack on a grocery run can make them feel loved.

Quality Time
People who prefer quality time enjoy actively spending time with their significant other – but things like spending time in silence watching TV may not be enough for them.

Physical Touch
People who prefer physical touch enjoy the little moments like holding hands and cuddling.

 
Keep in mind that most people have a combination of love languages – only satisfying one of these preferences may not be enough. It’s important to have honest conversations with your partner about the way you express and receive affection. There are many resources online for discovering your love language, but the best may be to go directly to the source – you can find an online assessment here.