By: Rachel Goldsmith, MS, MA

As the new school year begins, students prepare themselves for the work and learning ahead of them. The start of the academic year holds the promise of making new friends, delving deeper into a variety of concepts, and applying what they already know to new material. Oftentimes, before the new learning can begin, students need a refresher of what they have already learned. These quick reminders serve to not only trigger memories, but they also give us the opportunity to re-evaluate what we have already learned. It is an invaluable time of reflection, and it often gives us the time and space to prepare ourselves to accept new information and integrate it with what we already know.

This kind of refresher can (and should!) be applied to our intimate relationships. When you and your partner have been together long enough, it can seem like you already know everything there is to know about one another. Conversations feel stale, and you’re certain that you’ve heard this joke from your partner at least ten times before. A feeling of boredom in the relationship can easily follow. At this point, many partners just assume nothing is new in the relationship and that our partner is a static being. You stop asking questions and disengage from one another as a result.

Of course, it cannot possibly be true that you know everything about your partner or that everything you already know has stayed the same. We are all constantly changing, and it refreshes and renews a relationship when couples take time to ask one another questions and get curious about one another’s inner experience and perspective. A relationship refresher does not need to be time consuming or require spending any money. You can simply set aside some time to talk, focusing on asking the kinds of questions that you used to ask when you were first together. Talk about how things have changed over the course of your relationship. Focus on the future, on your dreams and hopes. Ask about your partner’s experience of the here-and-now, noting how your partner’s views have changed and he or she has developed as an individual. Doing this will undoubtedly reveal a newness within your relationship that keeps both of you interested in and engaged with one another.

These 12 questions below are just a few of the many conversation starters that you can have with your partner to refresh your relationship. You should feel free to let these conversations develop organically, leading you to topics that are relevant for your own unique relationship. Be open to the answers you receive, approaching this with a non-defensive attitude of curiosity and interest. Take pride in your relationship (and yourself) and offer gratitude toward your partner for doing this activity with you!

  1. What have you learned from our relationship? What have you learned about yourself as a result of being in this relationship?
  2. What do you value most in life? Has that changed since we first met?
  3. What is the best/worst time of the day for you lately?
  4. What is it like to be in a relationship with me? In your perspective, have I changed significantly?
  5. What do you cherish about our relationship?
  6. What are you interested in changing (or working on) in our relationship?
  7. Where do you see yourself (or us) in 1 year? 5? 10?
  8. Is there anything I can do to be a better partner for you?
  9. What do you think you are doing really well in our relationship? In what area(s) am I doing well?
  10. What do you think you need to improve on within our relationship?
  11. What do you think are our major area(s) of conflict lately?
  12. What has been your biggest accomplishment over the past year? Month?