Whether you've been married for six months or 60 years, there's always more you can learn about your partner. And according to Dr. Laura Berman, relationship expert and host of "Uncovered Radio with Dr. Laura Berman," there are two specific questions about your partner you should definitely know the answers to. Not only will this knowledge strengthen your relationship, but it will also help keep the romance alive.
Questions To Ask Your Partner
Question 1: What is your partner's ideal date?
Dr. Laura challenged three couples — newlyweds, a couple married for eight years and a couple married for sixty-two years — to see how well they really know each other by posing this question. The men wrote down what they think is their wife's ideal date and the wives wrote down their correct answers.
Why The Answer Matters For Your Relationship
According to the relationship expert, most men would probably have no idea how to answer this question for their partner, so you really need to be proactive in giving them a list of dates you would like to try. She explains that she hears from women all the time that they want their husbands to be more romantic, but that the husbands don't know what that means. "A lot of times we think we know what our partner wants because we're thinking [about] what we want," she says.
Relationship Goal: Collaborate on a list of date night ideas + plan one a month
This exercise is a great jumping off point for creating a list of dates you'd both enjoy. "Write down ten dates you'd love to go on, and then come up with the common denominators. You can mix it up — even if just once a month or once a quarter you go on one of these dates," the relationship expert suggests. But do start scheduling those dates, even if it means booking a babysitter a month in advance or making reservations well ahead of time. Having special time together to look forward to is part of the fun. Plus, doing adventurous things together (like bungee jumping, for example) stimulates dopamine levels and is good for your libido and your bond, Dr. Laura says.
"If you know you have a difficult time 'letting go' and getting into a romantic frame of mind, I recommend a 'surrender date.' This is where your partner takes control and plans every aspect of the date, including where [and] when you go…even your outfit, down to your intimate things," she adds. "Some couples even take it one step further and let their partner order for them. The idea is to completely surrender to your partner. This is a really good idea for Type A personalities who struggle to switch out of work mode or parent mode and into a romantic frame of mind."
Relationship advice for newlyweds: You've only been married a short time, but you've already been on countless dates. At this newlywed stage, Dr. Laura encourages couples to be thoughtful about the patterns they start to lay in place. "We are creatures of habit and very quickly, our routines become ingrained, so now is the perfect time to ingrain some really healthy routines like always setting date night in stone, as well as carving out time every night where you shut off the television, put your phones away and just snuggle in bed and talk or be intimate," she says.
Relationship advice for couples married 7+ years: According to the relationship expert, the 7-year itch is more than just a pop culture myth. It's not uncommon for couples to become antsy and feel unfulfilled in their relationships around this time marker, she says. "This is because things can really get stale after several years together, and we find that we go from lovers to roommates who occasionally have (predictable) sex. One way to safeguard your relationship from this pitfall is to make your date nights exciting and heart-pounding, whether that involves adventurous activities or roleplaying or opening up the Kama Sutra and just flipping open the book and trying whatever position you land on."
Advice for couples married for decades: At this stage, you probably think you know everything about your partner. "Not only do you know their favorite restaurant, you know exactly where they will park, what they will order and even how much they will tip," Dr. Laura says. "But the funny thing about seeing someone every day is that we can become blind to them. We stop really seeing them. As counterintuitive as it might sound, I would actually encourage you to spend date night asking each other some 'getting to know you' questions, including ones that are erotic and ones that are simply wholesome, like, 'Who inspired you as a child?' or 'What did you enjoy most about your parents' marriage?'"
Question 2: Would your partner rather you bring them flowers or clean the house?
This may seem like a simple question, but the answer can help determine your partner's love language. If your partner would prefer the flowers, their love language is probably gifts. If they would rather you clean the house, their love language is likely acts of service.
Why The Answer Matters For Your Relationship
"It's good to know, because we're either wanting acts of service, romance, touch or quality time," Dr. Laura says. This exercise only gave two choices, but there are five different love languages.
How To Find Your Love Language
You want to communicate your love in a way that will truly land for your partner. It's helpful to take an online love language quiz, but you can also talk about what makes you feel loved by recalling the things your partner has done for you that made you feel the most connected to them and having them do the same, according to Dr. Laura.
Relationship Goal: Connect using your love languages
Then, think about how to apply this knowledge to your relationship in a meaningful way. For example, if your partner's love language is quality time, clearing your schedule and devoting an entire morning to just being with them and focusing on them would make them feel much more special than sending them flowers. Or, "if your partner's love language is touch, you need to make sure you carve out time to cuddle and touch, to really set an intention to give them that physical connection," the relationship expert stresses.
Relationship advice for newlyweds: For those in fairly new relationships, be aware that your partner's love language may change over the years. "As you become busier with work and possibly parenting, you may find that acts of service or quality time become more meaningful to you than physical touch or gifts," Dr. Laura points out. "So, don't assume that this is a 'one and done' conversation, but rather a touchstone to keep returning to over the years in order to keep your bond strong."
Relationship advice for couples married 7+ years: "Remember that love languages are a helpful tool for improved connection and communication, but they can also become a crutch if you never look deeper," Dr. Laura cautions. "For example, 'He said his love language is touch, and we are intimate at least once a week.' That meets the physical need, but someone who has a love language of touch might also be looking for safety, confidence [or] reassurance. Perhaps that could mean holding him, being more complimentary or bragging on him in front of his friends. Just be on the lookout for unique and thoughtful ways you can meet your partner's love language without just going for the obvious and sticking there for the rest of time."
Advice for couples married for decades: You have probably shared more 'I love yous' than you can count, but remember, actions speak louder than words, the relationship expert points out. "Those actions need to reach your partner's unique soul in a way that lands for them. By now, you probably both know what will make each other happy, but I challenge you to see if you could try to expand on those experiences by going beyond the obvious. Try to surprise your partner by thinking of new ways to express your love—if you always get her flowers, see what happens if you bring home lingerie instead. If you always praise him for being a good father and husband, see what happens when you praise him (in specific terms!) for being a good lover instead."