We’re in February now, and I don’t know about you guys, but this month always makes me think of love. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and even though I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day (I like to focus on love all the time, not just when Hallmark says it’s a good idea), I still appreciate the reminder to be more romantic and loving.
I came across an article recently about 36 Questions That Could Make You Fall In Love. These questions are from a study by psychologist Arthur Aron. In the study he had pairs of strangers spend about 45 minutes asking each other a set of 36 increasingly personal and vulnerable questions. At the end of the question set, the pair was to spend 4 minutes looking deeply into each others’ eyes. The idea was to see if vulnerability would foster closeness and even love between strangers. At least one of the pairs in the study ended up getting married, so it worked with strangers.
We at Checklist Mom are always interested in ways to create more thriving families. Happy parents who love one another lead to happy kids and happy families. So, I was curious if these questions would work for a couple who is already married. In the interests of science, and the Checklist Mom community, I decided that I would take on this experiment with my husband.
Last weekend I drove with my husband from Los Angeles, where we live, to Phoenix for a conference. We had a 6 hour drive without kids and the 36 questions, so what better time? As we drove, we asked and answered each of these questions. Because we were driving, we did not take the 4 minutes to stare deeply into each other’s eyes. I guess we could have pulled over onto the side of the freeway and done this, but we didn’t.
The Result: I still very much love my husband. We were already very open and intimate, so I didn’t feel much more intimacy after these questions. These questions are designed to foster intimacy in strangers and obviously we were not strangers, but I still learned one or two new things about my husband asking the questions. Discovery and surprises, especially after being together for 10 years, is always a good thing.
Also, I think if we had been looking at each other more while asking the questions (instead of mostly staring ahead at the road) and had done the 4 minutes of staring into each others’ eyes, we might have noticed more of a change. All in all thought, it was a good experience.
Here are the questions if you’d like to try this experiment with your significant other or a stranger as the case may be. Try it, and in the comments let me know how it goes:
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling … “
26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share … “
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.