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!).
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.