6 Questions to Ask Your Partner That Keep the Spark Alive, Therapists Say
Knowing the answers to these questions can boost intimacy and understanding.
If you're in a long-term relationship, you know that it can be challenging to maintain that elusive "spark." When you first met your partner, you were likely enamored with them, and there's nothing more exhilarating than the thrill of something new. But after spending several years with the same person, you have to consciously tend the flame to keep your relationship or marriage happy and healthy.
"It's no secret that relationships can be hard work, but there are ways to make them easier and one of those is by communicating with your partner," Megan Harrison, LMFT of Couples Candy, tells Best Life. "Keeping the spark alive in a relationship takes effort from both partners, but it's worth it when you consider how much happier you'll be as a result."
To do so, therapists recommend asking your partner specific questions that demonstrate your commitment and dedication to your relationship—while also actively listening to their response. Read on for the six questions you should be asking to keep the spark alive.
"Do you need 'you' time?"
If you're feeling tension in your relationship, it might be that you or your partner simply need some time on your own. This isn't a drastic separation, but more so taking time to do what you individually enjoy, Colleen Wenner, LMHC, MCAP, LPC, founder and clinical director of New Heights Counseling & Consulting, LLC, says.
"As a couple, you spend a lot of time doing life together. It's just as important for both of you to carve out personal time as well so that you can recharge and relax," Wenner explains. This is part of the theory that "distance makes the heart grow fonder," and spending time independently will remind you why you cherish your relationship so much.
"Time away from each other can be very beneficial for your relationship and kindle feelings of love and passion," Wenner adds. "When you're apart, it helps you appreciate being with each other even more when you get back together."
"What are your love languages?"
You may have heard of "love languages," which are simply how you prefer to give and receive love, whether that's through physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, or quality time. If you've never asked your significant other about their love languages, it can be a great way to keep or rekindle that spark.
"By knowing your partner's love language, you can make a conscious effort to speak their love language and show them that you care," Joni Ogle, LCSW, CSAT, CEO of The Heights Treatment, says.
For example, if your partner's love language is acts of service, you might offer to cook or do the laundry, or complete other tasks you know are lingering on their to-do list. Those who prefer gifts will likely appreciate a bouquet of flowers, while people who need words of affirmation will be thrilled to hear you say, "I love and value you."
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"What are your favorite things to do together?"
Just as important as "you" time is time spent together, therapists say. Asking your partner about a favorite date that you've gone on or what they like to do with you can provide invaluable insight.
"This can give you some great ideas for date nights or weekend getaways," Ogle explains. "It's always important to keep things fresh and exciting in a relationship, so knowing your partner's favorite activities can be very helpful."
Wenner says that you can also ask them directly about an adventure that they'd like to go on at some point in the future. "Being adventurous as a couple is one of the best ways to stay connected. You don't have to go on an epic trip together, but you could try something different that neither one of you has done before," she says. "The act of creating memories together will help you feel closer to each other and more excited about what comes next."
"What can I do for you today?"
An integral part of any relationship is making sure that your partner's needs are met. If you ask your significant about what you can do and how you can help them, you'll be better equipped to anticipate their needs in the future.
"Show that you want your partner's needs met by making sure they know how much you care about them. Be attentive to their moods and emotions," Wenner suggests. "Make sure you are available to listen to their problems and concerns. Give compliments where appropriate and communicate open and honestly. You'll draw your partner even closer to you because he or she feels special."
Harrison echoes this, adding that asking what you can do shows "that you're willing to put their happiness before your own."
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"What makes you feel sexy or desired?"
A key component of the "spark" in your relationship is likely physical intimacy. While it's not of the utmost importance for everyone, understanding what makes your partner feel desirable is important.
"You can ask [your partner] to share those intimate and specific details," Jaclyn Gulotta, PhD, LMHC, contributing writer for Choosing Therapy, tells Best Life. "You can also have 'check-ins' and ask them if they feel good and what they would want you to do to make them feel even better."
When you feel like your partner is prioritizing your happiness and desires, it's validating—and on the flip side, your partner will appreciate you taking the time to ask about their wants and needs.
"Feeling positive about our partner and our relationship also helps in making us want to be closer and connect on an intimate level," Gulotta says. "When we are able to be vulnerable and share what makes us feel sexy and desired, it helps to meet those needs and build a deeper connection while keeping the spark alive along the way."
"What are your goals and dreams?"
Having goals in life is a key driver for many of us, and these can evolve and change over the course of a relationship. Ensuring that you are up-to-date and informed as to what your partner really wants in life can be a good test to your continued compatibility, Ogle says.
"If you are both on the same page about where you want to be in life, then it's likely that your relationship will be strong and long-lasting," she explains. "If you're not compatible in this area, it's important to have an honest discussion about it and see if you can find a middle ground."