Do you and your honey chit chat about the weather and random details of your work day … or do you make time to really talk?
A study in Psychological Science claims that people are happier when they spend more time discussing meaningful topics than engaging in small talk.
Seventy-nine college students had their conversations recorded and analyzed by researchers, who distinguished between chit-chat about the food or the weather from discussions about philosophy, education, or religion. Subjects who reported the greatest amount of satisfaction spent only 10 percent of their conversation on small talk, while the unhappiest subjects kept 28.3 percent of their talking time in the shallow end.
Granted, the researchers have yet to conclude whether people are happy because they can talk deeply, or whether they talk deeply because they are happy. Either way, we started thinking about how important “real conversation” is in relationships.
One of the perks of being in a committed relationship is the ability to discuss subjects you likely avoided during the early stages of dating. So pour yourselves a drink, cozy up on the sofa and have yourselves a good heart-to-heart chat. Here are 10 topics super happy couples regularly talk about:
1. Embarrassing moments
If you can’t share the awkward moments that occurred throughout high school with your partner, you can you tell them to? Don’t be afraid to broach the subject, if you haven’t already. We wouldn’t be surprised if his stories are more horrifying (and hilarious) than yours.
2. Political viewpoints
How do you really feel about the next election or that new law that passed? You don’t have to agree with each other, although it would certainly help. A good relationship allows both parties to discuss their own philosophies without taking the opposing viewpoints personally.
3. Fears and insecurities
By fears, we don’t mean your phobia of earthworms. We’re talking about things that make you wake up with gray hairs. What worries you? What do you want to improve in yourself? What are your past skeletons? In being vulnerable, you risk judgment, but more importantly, you chance finally being understood.
4. Your childhoods
Ask your partner what he or she was like as a kid. Did he make friends easily? What kind of games did he like to play? Did he have trouble in school? Childhood memories make for fun conversations, but they can also lend insight into how your guy became the person he is today.
5. Past relationships
This is a touchy one because no one wants to hear their true love spouting sonnets about an ex. There is, of course, a difference between longing for (or being bitter over) the past and simply acknowledging what happened. With enough practice, seasoned, happy couples learn how to address why past relationships ended without inadvertently comparing their current partner to an old flame.
6. Family ties
Knowing a person’s upbringing and relationship with his or her parents (or siblings) is paramount to understanding his current attitude toward family. If you’re even slightly contemplating a future with this person, it helps to ask how well he gets along with his family. Why does he resent his mother? Why is he closer to his sisters than to his brothers? How well can he handle family gatherings?
7. Current events
In the age of information overload, it’s nearly impossible to stay up-to-date on everything going on around us. Here’s where teamwork comes into play: Ask your partner about his interests, be they economics or regional politics, and see if you can’t learn a thing or two about them. Who knows, maybe you’ll help him develop an interest in international affairs or science news.
8. TV and movies
Compared to politics and personal fears, entertainment might seem pretty shallow, but Dr. Mehl actually classified discussions about movies in the “deep” category, given that people focused on character motivations and plots rather than on, say, the hot Hollywood leading actors.
9. The future
Need we ask what’s scarier or more inspiring than the future? We’re not saying you should pressure your partner into talking about his plans for marriage and children, but we do believe that whether he openly talks about them or you ask directly, you should know his dreams, goals, and aspirations. What is he working toward? What drives him to succeed? Where does he see himself in five years? Someone who desires growth and is not afraid of the unknown is surely dynamic enough to deserve you.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Great minds talk about ideas; small minds talk about people.” So, up your relationship happiness by talking about the deep stuff with your significant other.