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How to Create a Conversation Renaissance in Your Marriage

By Kurt Smith March 14, 2024 Family

There’s something comforting about sitting quietly with your spouse and not feeling pressured to come up with small talk. On the other hand, there’s something quite mind-numbing about knowing your conversational repertoire is limited to “What do you want for dinner?” and “Can you turn the TV up?”

Of course, most discourse between partners isn’t that limited, but when you’ve been married a long time, it can feel that way.

If you’re among the many (many) couples who live in a conversation desert, you’re not alone. But take heart! There are ways to bring the simulating conversation back to your relationship and discuss more than meal choices, laundry, or the weather.

Why Talking to Each Other Is Important

“We’re fine. We’re so in tune with each other that we don’t really need to talk.”

Hmmm. If you or your spouse think that statement is fair and true, well, sorry. You’re wrong.

Regular conversations with your partner are crucial to creating and maintaining the happiness and satisfaction that should be part of a long-term relationship.

Conversations in a relationship are essential as they provide many benefits.

Connection and Intimacy

Talking helps foster a deep emotional connection between partners. Sharing thoughts, feelings, and experiences creates intimacy and reinforces the emotional bond between partners.

Understanding and Empathy

Conversations help partners understand each other better. Through talking, couples develop and maintain empathy for each other, which is crucial for providing support and navigating difficult times together.

Conflict Resolutions

Conflict is a part of all long-term relationships. A little conflict is actually healthy as long as it doesn’t become abusive or go unresolved. Effective communication is fundamental for resolving these conflicts.

Preventing Drift and Stagnation

Regular communication helps prevent emotional distance in a relationship. It keeps the connection alive and ensures that both partners continue to grow individually and as a couple.

Building Trust

Communication is the foundation of trust in a relationship. When partners communicate consistently, it builds trust and strengthens the sense of security.

In short, no matter how tuned in you feel to your partner, talking to each other and having regular conversations is important. And let’s be fair, neither of you is a mind reader, which means you may be surprised by what you hear and learn when you talk.

What You Talk About Is Important

“Okay, conversations are important. Fine. We talk. We’re good.”

Are you?

Before you turn away, assuming you and your spouse have plenty to talk about, ask yourself the following question:

Do the primary things you discuss in complete sentences fall into one of the following categories?

  • Family (Kids, grandkids, your husband’s weird brother, etc.)
  • Finances (He spends too much money, the price of milk, stock market gyrations)
  • Future planning (Retirement, the will, which child needs money this time)
  • Health (everything hurts, why does my knee make that noise, the roulette wheel of next tests and scans).

In relationships measured in decades and past 60, these are the most common topics of conversation.

Don’t misunderstand – these topics are important, and I’d argue that some conversation is better than none. But when we talk about upping your conversation game, none of those falls into the scintillating column.

Think for a minute about when you first met. You could probably talk for hours and never feel lost on topics. Granted, you were getting to know each other, and there was a lot to talk about then.

But just because you know each other well doesn’t mean there aren’t new things to explore.

In fact, while you’ve been getting comfortable with each other over the years, you’ve also each been changing. Your perspectives, knowledge, and opinions are likely at least somewhat different than when you first met.

Conversations about the right topics can

Cultivate Romance

Keeping the romance alive involves more than just physical gestures. It also requires an ongoing emotional connection gained through communication.

Improve the Quality of Connection

Engaging in meaningful discussions will enhance the overall quality of the time spent together. This contributes to the satisfaction with your companionship, as well as mutual enjoyment.

Sounds Easy – So Why Isn’t it?

“Okay, it’s important to talk, and what you talk about matters. Is it really just that simple?”

Maybe. But not always.

If having great conversations were easy, you’d be doing it, right? The truth is that the longer you’re together, the harder really talking becomes.

Seems like it would be the opposite, doesn’t it?

There are some very common reasons for why the ability to have really good, engaging conversations with your partner dwindles over the years.

Among them are:

Over Familiarity

Remember that “in-tune” feeling you likely had at one time? That familiarity with your partner is something you once strived for, and it probably served you well when you were in the thick of raising young children, work, and household chaos. The downside is that when everything settles down, feeling “in tune” can mean you stop being curious about each other and rely on shorthand communication that’s now unnecessary and potentially detrimental.

Lack of Effort

This one speaks for itself. If you aren’t trying to engage, then engagement doesn’t happen. Just because your relationship has lasted for years doesn’t mean you stop trying to keep it strong. There’s no finish line to a happy relationship – it will require effort and attention as long as you want it to be strong.


“I don’t ask him because I know what he’ll say,” “I already know what he thinks about things,” “You just want to argue,” “You never listen,” “You don’t want to discuss (insert topic here).”

Can you relate?

When you’ve been together a long time, it’s easy to assume you know what he thinks, how he’ll react, and what topics interest him. Let me reiterate – time changes many things about people. There’s a good possibility that your partner has developed some new opinions or ideas.

Imbalance in Engagement

A universal truth about conversation is that it takes two people. So, bringing your conversational world back to life will take participation from both of you.

If one of you routinely looks at their phone, keeps watching TV or doing the crossword while you’re talking, then conversation won’t work, and frustration will build. Ensure that you both buy into the need for talking and are equally engaged.

Misguided Attempts

So, you’re ready to talk and have ideas for exciting new topics. But oddly, when you bring up the latest developments in archaeological technology being used in the jungles of Madagascar, your husband’s eyes glaze over.

A conversation also needs to be about a topic you’re both at least mildly interested in. So, before you get frustrated and claim there’s nothing to talk about, be thoughtful about the topics you choose.

How to Start Your Own Conversation Renaissance

“Alright, conversations are important, and the topic matters. And we have some bad habits to overcome. How are we supposed to make this happen?”

There’s no magic formula, but there are some best practices that will set you on your way.

Let’s start with the biggest and the one that sounds the silliest.

Have a Conversation About Your Need for Conversation

Yes, it sounds like needing to have meetings about meeting, but this is a necessary step.

You’re aiming for agreement about how to be engaging and mentally and emotionally available to one another. As mentioned, a conversation requires two participants. If only one of you is committed to trying, things become significantly more difficult.

Note: It’s not impossible to be the instigator and lead the effort alone. Your partner may respond to your attempts over time. But the chances of success are much greater when you’re both on the same page.

Next, consider the following tips:

Practice Interest

This may be a fake-it-til-you-make-it scenario for some, but by asking specific and targeted questions about your spouse and their day, you begin building conversation and open doors to new topics.

Instead of a generic “How was your day?” Try asking more specific questions about particular events or experiences.

Share Something Personal About Yourself or Your Day

Sharing personal experiences, thoughts, or feelings you’ve had recently increases vulnerability and can encourage your spouse to do the same and lead to deeper conversations.

Discuss Future Plans and Dreams

No, this isn’t about taking social security early or reassessing your living trust. This talk is about the fun stuff.

It could involve short-term plans like weekend activities or long-term goals like travel or moving. It doesn’t even have to be realistic or likely (think – what would we do if we won the lottery). Planning and dreaming together can be both exciting and bonding.

Explore Mutual Interests

Did you know he wanted to try glassblowing? Does he remember how much you like going to horse races?

Discover, rediscover, and explore shared hobbies or interests. This could involve watching a movie or TV show, reading a book together, skydiving, spelunking, or trying out some other new activity you both enjoy.

Ask Thought-Provoking Questions

Open-ended questions encourage reflection and thoughtful responses. For example, ask about your partner’s aspirations, dreams, or how they envision life together in the future.

Play Conversation Games

Lighthearted conversation games can make talking more fun. For example, you could play “Two Truths and a Lie” or take turns asking each other hypothetical questions – “What would you do if…?”

Explore Current Events or Trends

There’s no shortage of bizarre current events to talk about. You can use the latest news or trends as a jumping-off point for new conversations.

Create Quality Time for Talking

Whether it’s a date night, a weekend getaway, walk around the neighborhood, or just a quiet evening at home, spending focused time together can naturally lead to meaningful conversations.

Be Present and Listen Actively

Showing genuine interest in what your spouse says is a must for sustaining strong conversations. Put away distractions, maintain eye contact, and actively listen.

Using conversation starters like these not only fosters communication but also demonstrates your commitment to the relationship.

Remember, the key is to be intentional and genuine about wanting to connect.

Communication is a powerful tool for expressing love, appreciation, and affection. By taking the initiative to start new conversations, you can create a positive cycle of communication that contributes to the ongoing growth and happiness of your marriage.


Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you struggle with keeping the conversation alive in your relationship? Have you found anything that works well? Share your thoughts and tips and join the conversation.

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My second husband and I have been together 15 years. He never stops talking and, unfortunately, covers the same topics many times over. He is not a good listener so I feel shut out a lot. Any ideas?

Rosemarie Leeds

I hope you have a moment to write your husband a note explaining how it hurts your heart that you feel you aren’t listened to and have a chance to express yourself and want to have better conversations in life.
Sometimes one may have to establish guidelines to the point of even holding up an object for your turn to speak. By using a physical object the other person can see they can’t speak out of turn and must be silent. It then begins to train them to learn how to listen to you. Perhaps your husband may not have learned how to have a two-way conversation. There are many teaching resource methods.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Great suggestion, Rosemarie. Claudia, using what’s called a “talking stick” like Rosemarie suggests is an idea. I actually use this in my counseling of couples so that the conversation includes both of them. A woman I was counseling yesterday said she needed a “shush stick” for her husband and said the idea came from the animated movie, Home, where the lead character used a “susher” to silence other characters. Another idea is to use a timer of some kind to set a time limit on how long each of you can talk before the other gets their turn. -Dr. Kurt


My husband and I take the pups for walks a couple of times daily and prepare and cook meals together regularly. When we see or read something important on the news or current events, we discuss our views. All of these things help with organic conversations outside of checking in and talking about daily things such as family, friends, house projects, etc…

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Donna, Good examples of how to do it, particularly in making the effort to initiate conversation on different topics. We can all do it, but it does take being intentionality and effort. Thanks for sharing some ideas. -Dr. Kurt


This was a very well written article. It is also very true in my home. My husband and I have been married for over 40 years and together even longer. I can’t tell you the number of times we just sit and say nothing or are so engaged in other things we don’t communicate. I just showed this article to my husband, and he agreed, with everything noted. I will refer to it from now on to help guide us through our remaining years together. I thank you for writing this to help us down the road.

Dr. Kurt Smith

Hi Vicky, As I talked about in the article, you and your husband are far from alone. I’m glad the article was so helpful and that you’ll use it going forward. Being intentional is crucial, so having a reminder, guide, and motivator can really help. I wish you guys much success. – Dr. Kurt

The Author

Dr. Kurt Smith is the Clinical Director at Guy Stuff Counseling & Coaching and works with men and the women who love them. He is an expert in understanding the unique relationship challenges facing couples today. Check out his weekly tips on Facebook or Twitter.

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