For a great relationship, keep the questions flowing when early love fades

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By psychologist Jane Dodding

How well do you really know your partner?

Who are the two people your partner admires most in the world?

What is your partner’s biggest fear?

Describe in detail what your partner did yesterday.

What is your partner’s dream job?

What was your partner’s most embarrassing moment?

What was your partner’s worst childhood experience?

How does your partner like to be soothed?

Who is your partner’s favourite relative?

What medical problem does your partner worry about the most?

Who was your partner’s best childhood friend?

Has your partner’s outlook on life changed in the last two years?

Who causes your partner the most stress in their life now? Why?

What goals does your partner have for your family?

What goals does your partner have just for themselves right now?

Why are questions like these important?

At the beginning of relationships we do a lot of talking to get to know each other. We are curious and interested in every aspect of their life and can’t get enough of the detail about what makes them who they are.

From this knowledge love can blossom, but so does our ability to ride out the rough patches in our relationship – together!

Couples who possess detailed knowledge of each other’s daily life, and internal world, are known to cope better with stress and conflict.*

How do we build and maintain a strong, resilient relationship?

It is quite common, after the initial throes of early love, to get back into the normal busy routine of our lives and become less focused, attentive, and available to our partners.

To build and maintain a strong, resilient relationship, it is important that you both: 

  • Make each other a priority, no matter how busy you are. 
  • Keep up to date and catch up on each other’s day. 
  • Be intently aware of each other’s feelings and thoughts.
  • Deepen your understanding of each other (e.g. what are each other’s dreams, concerns, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, past hurts, past triumphs and core needs).
  • Be proactive to enhance your understanding of your partner and what their needs are. You could start by asking each other the questions above. 

With a little effort, you can make your relationship more resilient, and you can build the stronger connections that we all yearn for. Good luck!

*Research by John Gottman and Nan Silver

To read other columns written by our psychologists, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career.

All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.

Jane Dodding is a psychologist and director with MindsPlus, a group of psychologists and other mental health workers who came together in 2007 to provide support to people living and working in rural and remote regions of Australia. For further information about MindsPlus, contact 1300 312 202 or visit