How to fall back in love with your partner

If your relationship has drifted apart, or if you want to know how to fall back in love with your partner, then you might want to try asking the 36 questions in love.

Everywhere I went on Valentine’s Day I was surrounded by public kisses, bunches of flowers, couples holding hands, heart shaped balloons and teddy bears.  I bought a heart shaped helium balloon for my two year old son, because I love him, and I bought some chocolates for my parents because I love them too.    

The grand romantic gestures by strangers on the train got me thinking:  

Is romance just for those in their teens and twenties?

All of the teddy wielding, public snoggers were half of my age. 

Does marriage suffocate romance? 

Does real life extinguish love? 

How do you fall back in love with your partner?

A long term relationship, particularly if you have children, probably has more similarities with running a small business than it does with the plot of a Mills and Boon romance novel, or one of the stories from the film Love Actually.  How do you ensure you grow together as your relationship matures?  How do you make sure you don’t grow apart? 

I am not sure that I am qualified to give advice here.  My relationship didn’t just ‘grow apart’, it fractured, smashed, combusted, exploded, fizzled and then died.  The happy times in my relationship are a distant and faraway memory.  The angst, the arguments, the emotional manipulation and the feeling of suffocation are the memories that persist.

But in many respects I do feel I am well placed to give advice.  Two years of reflection on a relationship breakdown is enough time to become a bit of an expert in love.  The lyrics of Carole King, Leonard Cohen, some decent wine, Google, and the Modern Love podcast by the New York Times have also helped. 

I stumbled across this website 36questionsinlove.com.  I can’t believe I had not heard about it before.  Dating columnists in all the UK newspapers have written about it.  These are 36 questions, written by Arthur Aron, which are designed to make you fall in love with anyone (what a scary thought!). 

how to fall back in love with your partner

The idea is that you spend ninety minutes asking each other these 36 questions. 

The early questions are quite innocuous:

“What would constitute a perfect day for you?”

…and get gradually more intimate:

“If you could change anything about the way you were raised what would it be?”

…and are occasionally a little morbid:

“Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?” (errrr WTF!)

I don’t think that I know the answers to these questions about myself.  I certainly don’t think that I ever knew anywhere near this level of detail about any of my exes.  I couldn’t even predict how my recent ex voted in the EU referendum and given that I am so firmly and passionately pro-EU I find this really quite unsettling. 

The thing is, we all have a narrative that we offer up to strangers and to new dates.  These questions are designed to cut through that façade and to break down that narrative.  These questions are designed to promote intimacy and trust which are essential if love is going to thrive. 

After a couple of years of reflection (maybe I am just a slow learner) I have come to realise that love it not about romantic gestures.  Forget the roses, the cupcakes, the padded pink cards and the overpriced set menu for two. 

Love is about bothering to really know someone. Love is also what it feels to be really known by another. 

These questions shouldn’t just be for newly dating couples desperate to find love.  These questions shouldn’t just be for dating columnists.  I think they would be great questions to ask your long term partner or spouse to regain or reinforce that sense of intimacy and trust. 

Is this how to fall back in love with your partner?  It might be. 

Your relationship might be better than it has ever been or you might be going through a rocky patch.  I don’t know, but whichever category you fall into, can I please challenge you to do ask these 36 questions?  Ask them on  your next date night.  But, please, pretty please, let me know how you got on.  I am dying to know how it felt.   

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64 Comments

  1. February 18, 2017 / 10:08 pm

    This has come at a great time, as my husband is rather in my bad books. He got me a Mother’s Day card instead of a Valentine’s card (!) and said “I was going to get you some flowers on my way home but I didn’t.” He’s also booked a gig when I was supposed to be going out with my friends. So maybe I should try this! xx #KCACOLS
    Becky at PinksCharming recently posted…Planning Our New Monochrome KitchenMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:25 pm

      Oh well, at least you got a card… thanks for your comment Becky. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:24 pm

      Hi Lydia,

      thanks for your comment. You definitely have to work at relationships – that’s true. Pen x

  2. February 18, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    ohh I may have to give this a go! Me and hubby can usually be found at opposite ends of the sofa staring at our phones and the TV with no talking happening…. will let you know how we get on!! Thank you for linking up with #KCACOLS hope to see you again next week xx

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:23 pm

      I am sure you are not the only ones at opposite ends of the sofa on social media. You could do the 36 questions via twitter – that’d be cool. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:22 pm

      You are right, all relationships go through phases – good and bad. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:20 pm

      Brilliant. You won’t have time to ask each other 36 questions for 90 minutes. Oh well. Pen x

  3. February 19, 2017 / 7:21 am

    We’re coming up on our 11th anniversary!! These 36 questions look fun!!! Going to find some time to try this!!! Date night haha not sure what that is! Thanks for sharing #kcacols

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:20 pm

      Brilliant! Let me know how they go. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:18 pm

      haha, me neither. I have been thinking about this for a few days. I don’t think I have a hunch for how I am going to die. I am not sure whether this is a good thing or not. Pen x

  4. February 19, 2017 / 5:22 pm

    I love questioning hubby to find out if he gives the answers I’d expect! Will totally do this. I was once really offended by someone telling me that he loved me because he didn’t even know how I took my coffee. To me, knowing a person’s ins and outs is far more important than all the roses in the world! #KCACOLS
    Laura recently posted…Activities: The Royal Yacht BritanniaMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:15 pm

      Goodness me, that sounds challenging for your husband. I hope you enjoy the 36 questions. I agree with you – really knowing a person is much more important than roses. Pen x

  5. February 19, 2017 / 8:57 pm

    Will have to try these out with the other half – both of us were so tired on Valentines day that we barely remembered that it was a day of love. I gave him some broccoli and he gave me a bread roll. That said we were on holiday with the kids and were out in a lovely restaurant enjoying a meal out, after several nights of grabbing a quick bite to eat. Love comes in all forms 🙂 #kcacols

    • thesingleswan
      February 19, 2017 / 10:11 pm

      That is a classic line “I gave him some broccoli and he gave me a bread roll”. You are indeed right though, love does come in all forms. It sounds like you were having a lovely holiday. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      February 20, 2017 / 9:29 pm

      Oh, look forward to hearing how the 36questionsinlove went. Pen x

  6. February 20, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    Well written, I totally agree with the concept. I’ve read those questions before and I have a similar set saved in ‘photos’ on my phone which we have often used when we’ve had a date night. They’re good cos they often do tell you something you didn’t know, and not just about your partner! A very sound piece of advice I think. Really enjoyed this, I loved your writing style and I remember reading one of your posts before and enjoying it so I shall be checking you out a bit more 😉 #kcacols
    alex muir recently posted…The Best Of Nottingham In One AppMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 20, 2017 / 9:28 pm

      Hi Alex,

      Great to hear from you again. I am glad you liked the post and look forward to hearing from you back here soon. Pen x

  7. February 20, 2017 / 11:26 pm

    When I first heard about those questions, I sat down with my husband and we went through them. We laughed, we cried, we hugged. We definitely felt a lot closer afterwards.
    I think relationships definitely go through phases. Every now and again I think it’s wise to take a step back, reevaluate and find that closeness you don’t always get to have when you’re busy rushing around in everyday life. #SundayBest
    Autumn’s Mummy recently posted…My breastfeeding journeyMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 21, 2017 / 9:59 pm

      Brilliant. You are the first person I have heard of who has actually done the questions (and you’re not even a dating columnist!). Thanks for sharing and I am glad it was a lot of fun. Pen x

  8. February 21, 2017 / 2:41 pm

    I think I will try these questions! My hubby has never been much of a talker so any excuse to find out what goes on inside his head is welcomed! #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      February 21, 2017 / 9:57 pm

      Hi Blake, I am not much of a talker either and I could see how they might really work for me on a date. I tend to just listen and it gets to the end of the evening and I realise that I haven’t really said very much. Have funn.

  9. February 21, 2017 / 6:37 pm

    Oh god men eh! I have just had a weekend of not speaking to mine and then last night we discussed what was going on… turns out stresses and strains were on both our parts and we just kept plodding along until it erupted- due to him hiding the fact he had tickets for the football this weekend plus a camping trip with his buddies in August! But we spoke and sorted things and we are both now gonna be more aware of each others feeling. I can see how people easily break up after having kids because all your focus is on little people and not one another anymore. #RV&HT

    • thesingleswan
      February 21, 2017 / 9:55 pm

      Hi Emma,

      Glad you sorted things out. I hope the 36 questions are fun . Pen x

  10. February 21, 2017 / 11:47 pm

    My husband won’t talk about death! I’ve tried, lots of times! Me on the other hand I can be a bit morbid. I like the feels like running a small business line it can get like that some days, mostly with all the other crap not so much the child rearing side of things. I feel most connected with my husband when we share a laugh, he really makes me laugh and I share my innermost thoughts with him that nobody else *ever* hears! Ha. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      February 22, 2017 / 10:41 pm

      It sounds like you have a lovely relationship. Laughter is so very important. Pen x

  11. February 22, 2017 / 5:18 pm

    I think its time, time, and more time. You have to be able to find it with each other and it needs to be a priority, otherwise you end up as just room mates and partners in parenting #KCACOLS
    jeremy@thirstydaddy recently posted…Stick to Your Own BedroomsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 22, 2017 / 10:40 pm

      Hi Jeremy,

      Yes, I totally agree, it is all about time. That’s part of the reason why I don’t want to be in a relationship at the moment. I just don’t have the time.

      Pen x

  12. February 22, 2017 / 10:32 pm

    Marriage and relationships take so much hard work! I totally agree that it’s not about hearts and flowers (although sometimes this is nice!). It’s about knowing each other, making time for each other and growing together over the years. I will definitely be checking out these questions! #KCACOLS
    Cheryl @ Tea or Wine recently posted…2 Year Blog Anniversary and Self Hosting Panic!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 22, 2017 / 10:39 pm

      I totally agree. Have fun with the questions. Pen x

  13. February 22, 2017 / 10:55 pm

    I’ve not heard of these questions before, but am really intrigued to go and check them out. I like the sound of them, I think that prompts to get conversations going can be really useful. x #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      February 23, 2017 / 9:27 pm

      I agree. Prompts are always useful. Let me know how the questions go. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      February 23, 2017 / 9:24 pm

      Let me know how your questions go. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      February 23, 2017 / 9:26 pm

      Let me know how your questions go. Have fun. Pen x

  14. February 23, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    These questions sounds fun (well maybe apart from the death one) I’d be interested to see what my husband’s answers will be x #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      February 23, 2017 / 9:23 pm

      Let me know! Pen x

  15. February 23, 2017 / 9:47 pm

    I’ve not heard of these questions before. I’m definitely going to have a look. Hubby and I love spending time together but it’s so difficult when life is so busy. I think purposefully setting time apart together is so important (so maybe i’ll introduce these Qs at our next session! Haha) #brillblogposts
    Lucy At Home recently posted…Blog Crush #2: 24th February 2017My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 25, 2017 / 10:43 pm

      Brilliant. Let me know how it goes. I am looking forward to reading about it. Pen x

  16. February 24, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    ooh, this sounds like it could be fun! I’ll definitely be asking my partner these questions later! #KCACOLS Becky x

    • thesingleswan
      February 25, 2017 / 10:42 pm

      Excellent. Let me know how it goes. Pen x

  17. February 25, 2017 / 1:29 pm

    Gonna give these a try out of interest. Our relationship is good as can be with a toddler in between us. Can never make your relationship too strong huh ☺

    #KCACOLS
    Cassie recently posted…Life with a toddler – the 2014 model My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      February 25, 2017 / 10:41 pm

      Indeed, let me know how it goes. Pen x

  18. February 25, 2017 / 11:41 pm

    How interesting! I’ve never heard of these questions before but now I’m intrigued! Thanks for linking up to #SundayBest x

    • thesingleswan
      February 26, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      Hi Sian,

      thanks for your comment. Pen x

  19. February 26, 2017 / 11:23 am

    Love the honesty of this post and we will indeed do the 36 questions, if I can get Mr S.H.I.T’s attention long enough to answer them!! Relationships are tough no matter what, but even more so when you throw little people into the mix. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      February 26, 2017 / 8:56 pm

      Hi Susie,

      this is absolutely true. Let me know how your 36 questions experience goes. Pen x

  20. February 27, 2017 / 9:00 pm

    Things like romance tend not be what reminds me of how much I love my wife. Usually it’s those late night debates or reaffirming of how much better life is with her. #kcacols

    • thesingleswan
      February 27, 2017 / 9:04 pm

      Ah, thats nice. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      March 2, 2017 / 9:56 pm

      Brilliant! Do let me know how it goes. Pen x

  21. March 3, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    Having children really does put a huge stain on a relationship. Anytime we want to do something that’s just the two of us it takes a whole load of planning!! I still haven’t found the perfect way to help us feel like we were young! #KCACOLS
    Amie recently posted…50 Book ChallengeMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      March 4, 2017 / 4:12 pm

      Yes, this is so very true. I don’t think you can quite predict the strain that parenthood imposes. Pen x

  22. August 28, 2017 / 7:46 pm

    Really lovely and interesting post, I will have to try this!! X

    • thesingleswan
      August 28, 2017 / 8:17 pm

      brilliant. Let me know how you get on. Pen x

  23. September 1, 2017 / 1:06 am

    me and my Mrs., we are 20 years together this May, married (legally) since 2013. I will try very hard to accomplish this together and report back in. What a great post. The ebbs and flows as we journey this thing called life. <3 #mg Great post
    Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…Start spreading the newsMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      September 1, 2017 / 7:12 pm

      Oh interesting. Let me know how it goes. I wonder whether you’ll find out any new and interesting things about each other. Pen x

  24. September 2, 2017 / 10:00 am

    never heard of this, but going to take a look, sounds fascinating! I really enjoyed this post thanks heaps for sharing it with me at #mg. I am not sure my hubby who is not a ‘feelings aware person’ will appetite it, but I am fascinated by this!
    Mackenzie Glanville recently posted…mothering moments #mummyshotMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      September 2, 2017 / 8:40 pm

      Hi Mac,

      Thanks for your comment. Give it a go and let me know what you think. Pen x

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