Receive it lovingly, with patience, and let them tell their entire side of the story without interrupting. Truly listen to them. Recognize that, even if you didn’t mean to hurt them in the slightest, it takes real vulnerability and courage for your partner to voice frustration/resentment/discomfort with something that occurred between the two of you.
Sincerely thank them for sharing their thoughts with you (it’s not an easy thing to do for most people), and follow-up by apologizing for the incident, or asking what you can do or say to help them feel more complete about the event.
4. When you come home from work, what can I do or say that will make you feel the most loved?
Depending on what kind of job your partner has and how they are as an individual, they might want something entirely different than what you expect as their preferred method of being greeted.
They might want to have as little communication as possible for the first few minutes as they settle into their new environment. Or perhaps diving right into physical affection is more their way of relating.
Whatever they need, all it takes is one simple question in order for you to better understand your partner and to go deeper in your relationship.
5. Is there any kind of physical touch that I can engage in more that helps you to feel loved?
This question refers to non-sexual touch (sexual touch is coming up soon).
Is there any kind of physical intimacy that they feel is lacking?
Do they want to hold hands more?
Do they love it when you play with their hair?
Do they adore when you come up behind them and wrap your arms around them?
Ask, get clear on what would make them feel more loved, and then incorporate that kind of touch into your daily schedule to the best of your ability.
6. Do you think you will need more closeness or more alone time over the next couple of days?
Our individual needs for independence and intimacy vary greatly from day to day.
Maybe your partner has been having an emotionally charged week and they need an extra-large dose of words of affirmation, physical intimacy, and compliments. Or maybe they are charging full steam ahead in their career and they need a bit more space as they grab their life’s steering wheel for a little while.
A greater need for independence and alone time doesn’t mean that they love you any less, and nor does a greater need for intimacy mean that they are needy. People simply have emotional needs that fluctuate depending on a huge variety of elements in their ever-changing lives.
And the more you can accommodate your partner, while still being conscious of your own mental and emotional needs, the better.
7. Is there any argument that we had this past week that you feel incomplete about?
Similar to the third question in that this one directly brings up potential wounds from the previous week. By asking this in a different context, your partner gets to consider whether they thought your arguments felt complete.
You might have a gut-level resistance to asking this one (“But if I ask this… won’t they remember that they were mad and then get mad at me again!”) but working through this uncomfortable moment together will make it so that the unspoken, underlying tension is allowed to dissipate.
Have you ever heard the expression “Saying no hurts for a moment, but saying yes hurts for months”? It basically says that when we are assertive and direct with our desires, it can be uncomfortable. But if we don’t, the trade-off would be the low-lying anxiety that we feel by not being true to ourselves.
This question works much in the same way. It’s so easy to ignore the difficult moments from the past week. What takes courage and strength are intentionally working through it so that the dirt between you isn’t given the chance to grow into resentment.
So be proactive your relationship will thank you.
8. How do you feel about our sex life lately?
One of the main differences between your intimate partner and every other relationship in your life is that you (hopefully) have sex with your partner. And yet, along with money, what is ranked as the most common topic that couples cite as the most stressful thing that they don’t discuss that break them up? You guessed it… sex.