When you think about the important things in a relationship, you probably think of communication, conflict resolution, physical connection, etc. But one thing that is often overlooked, but should be at the top of that list, is curiosity.
The science says so
Decades of research conducted by John Gottman and the Gottman Institute have shown that curiosity is one of the three keys to a strong relationship. (The other two are navigating conflicts in positive ways, and repairing and reconnecting after conflicts.) Curiosity in this case refers to expressing interest in your partner’s life and experiences. If time slips by and we haven’t checked in with our partner about how they’re doing in a while, the relationship might begin to suffer. Staying curious is one way that we don’t take our partner for granted, and avoid becoming two humans who simply coexist.
How to be more curious in your relationship
There are many ways to show curiosity in your relationship. Here are a few tips:
Ask your partner questions about their day - questions are a great way to show you’re interested.
Be specific with your questions - “How was work?” is good, “How was that meeting you had this morning?” is better.
Ask open-ended questions - avoid “yes” or “no” questions by asking questions that start with things like “Tell me about…” “How are you feeling about…” and “Why do you think…”
Lean in to learn more - ask follow-up questions based on what they’ve shared.
Stay physically engaged and present - maintain eye contact in the conversation, avoid being distracted by other things like your phone.
Practice active listening - rephrase and repeat back some of the things they share, ask if you’re understanding correctly (e.g. “It sounds like your meeting this morning was intense but productive, is that right?”).
Bring up conversations about things beyond the day-to-day - things like how they’re feeling about their friendships, what they’re looking forward to, any fun memories they want to reminisce about, etc.
The Question of the Day
Knowing that curiosity is key for strong relationships is what inspired us at Coupleness to create the Question of the Day. This is one of the most popular features in the app. The Question of the Day pops up each day on your Journal home page, and has space for you and your partner to each write your answers. It’s a quick and easy way to learn something about each other and have a moment of connection even during a busy day. You can also use the Question of the Day as a starting point for a conversation instead of tuning out with Netflix one night, expanding on your answers and expressing curiosity to learn more. The questions rotate between different topics: our relationship, appreciating my partner, personal exploration, room for improvement, gratitude, the past and the future, and just for fun.