Most people I work with wish their relationships were deeper and more connected. We long for the day when we used to be able to look into our spouse’s eyes and were blown away by all of the little things we were learning about them. Now however, we only share idle chit-chat about the kids schedules and what happened to the neighbor’s dog. Research from a well known study from the 1990’s has resurfaced about how to create more connected relationships with people in just a couple of hours. The resurgence is attributed to an article by a New York Times reporter who ran a similar experiment creating connections with a friend and ended up falling in love instead. I’ll walk you through the three step process researchers have found that will either deepen connections, or for some may have you falling in love. I call the process the The Deepening Connections Challenge.
The Deepening Connection Challenge
- Choose someone you want to deepen your connection with and run them through this three step challenge.
- Could be family members, spouse, or friends. It could also be someone you’re dating but will not necessarily grow romance with, just connection.
STEP #1- Find The Time To Talk
- Most of my couples that are struggling actually communicate less than 15 minutes a day.
- Stephen Covey story on Trail bike to have talks with his wife.
- Make it a priority to have uninterrupted, focused couple talk every single day, minimum of 30 minutes to one hour a day.
- Find a couple of hours of uninterrupted time to sit down with your partner and go through the questions. For some it’s 45 minutes, and for others it’s 3 hours.
STEP #2- Use Deeper Questions To Create Deeper Understanding
- Much of our conversations are superficial and are more about logistics of the kids, or what we need to pick up for dinner.
- Couples who only talk about logistics of their marriage will naturally lose their connection.
- Follow Dr. Arthur Aron’s list of questions to dramatically increase your understanding of who your partner really is and what really matters most to them.
- Just sit back and listen to your partner answer. Don’t interrupt or compare, just understand.
The 36 Questions:
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a perfect day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- 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 choose?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory?
- What is your most terrible memory?
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
- How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “we are both in this room feeling…”
- Complete this sentence — “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
- If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your partner what you like about them: be honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
- Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- 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?
- 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?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
- 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.
STEP #3 Connect Eye To Eye
- Although you have been looking at the other eye to eye when talking, take a few moments to move the eye to eye even deeper.
- Spend 4-5 minutes looking into each other’s eyes without talking, laughing or trying to avoid awkwardness.
- See what looking eye to eye actually does to you when you are doing it with someone you just learned so much about.
Repeat the steps as needed to continue connecting with this very important person.