Author Topic: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)  (Read 3982 times)

Philociraptor

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 948
  • Age: 30
  • Location: DFW, TX
  • Eat. Sleep. Lift. Repeat.
What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« on: December 11, 2018, 01:42:21 PM »
Hi friends! Looking for advice from my fellow DINKs, especially if you've been together 10+ years.

The wife and I have been together 12.5 years so far, married for 4.5 (met in high school, wanted degrees and a good financial footing before tying the knot). We've been running more and more into the situation where we are alone together (driving, walking, eating, cooking, on vacation, etc.) and we spend a lot of this time in silence. It's not always awkward but somethings it feels like it is (to me, at least). On a daily basis I usually go to work, go to gym, go home, eat dinner with wife, shower, read, and sleep; typically nothing interesting or out-of-the-ordinary happens, so I might have a minute or two of stories to tell at most. Usually my wife has a decent amount of stories to tell from her day, but when she runs out she usually pulls out her phone and scrolls through Instagram. Weekends are usually spent together 90%+ of the time, so most of our experiences are shared and thus we don't end up with much to talk about there either.

I'm not sure exactly what I'm looking for, but perhaps advice on things that we could talk about. She doesn't seem interested in mundane details of work interactions or what particular lifts I did on a given day, nor does it do much for me to talk about whatever book I'm reading at the moment, other than to recommend that she read them next. I feel like I've exhausted every story about my past, as well as talking about movie/music/book preferences. I'm just not sure what else there is to talk about.

Thoughts?

LifeHappens

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6673
  • Location: SnowBirdLand
  • Downshifting from 5th to 3rd Gear
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2018, 01:54:10 PM »
My DH and I have been together for 9 years, married for 6. We have yet to run out things to talk about. If I were to try to rank the major topics of conversation, by the amount of time they take, I would say:
1) Projects. We're currently renovating our 3rd house since 2010, which keeps us busy! There are always decisions to make and tasks to divvy up.
2) Common interests such as music, politics and neighborhood issues.
3) People watching. We're snarky as hell.
4) Travel and entertainment plans.
5) How adorable our cats are. Yes, we talk about our cats and their adorableness.. a lot.
6) Emotions and relationship check ins. We try to do this daily, although most days it doesn't take a lot of time.

So, basically, 1) practical life management stuff 2) fun things 3) relationship enhancement.

slow hand slow plan

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 105
  • Location: Colorado ish
  • Living the dream
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2018, 02:15:03 PM »
Get a pet or hobby... There should be plenty to talk about. How about planning out a renovation, garden , vacation, future,.

bestname

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 69
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2018, 02:21:47 PM »
My husband and I talk politics a lot.
We commiserate about having to work.
We own a business that we often have to discuss.
We makes plans and schemes and talk about what we will do when we don't have to have day jobs, where we want to visit next, etc etc.
We discuss our parents, siblings, and their dramas.
We talk about whats going on with our friends and who to make dinner plans with.
My husband tells me funny sports gossip.
Whatever is in the news.
 

hops

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 281
  • Location: United States
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2018, 02:32:09 PM »
Feelings. So many feelings. We talk about those and how they make us feel. It's one of the great hazards of a lesbian relationship.

If there's nothing new to discuss, consider making things up. That's how 90% of our in-jokes were born, and some of the ongoing sagas we most enjoy updating are labyrinthine, entirely fictitious backstories about our pets. Baseless and increasingly deranged speculation about some of our odder neighbors has also provided many hours of free entertainment.

We're both always in the middle of several books, fiction and nonfiction, and send each other links to articles to discuss later. We get a lot of mileage from the topics mentioned in previous posts, especially the future of basically anything: our relationship and careers, retirement, politics, technology, her parents' tragic finances, when Cheddar will next appear on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

We also make an effort to learn about interests we don't share. I can hold conversations about Tolkien and she's taught herself to pretend to care about personal finance.

socaso

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 527
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 02:33:22 PM »
You can have a handy little list of things to bring up when the silence descends upon you but you might be better off talking to her about the silence. Does she think it's odd? Does it ever bother her? Would she like to see a change? Maybe if you get her input you will either both agree you want to do something about it or you will decide it's no big deal and you don't have to feel funny about it anymore. It's really a situation that is best worked out between the two of you.

BECABECA

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 65
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Huntington Beach, CA
  • Retired since July 2017, not bored yet!
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2018, 02:35:38 PM »
I also met my wife in HS, we’ve been together longer than we haven’t... 22 years now. It probably does help that we have dogs, they are a frequent topic of conversation and we have to take them for walks and then there really isn’t anything to do except chat while we walk.

We don’t typically have any trouble filling the evenings with conversations, as my wife likes to talk about work a lot and I like to help her analyze and optimize. Before I was retired, I didn’t contribute much conversation about my work, as I was usually happy to be home and not thinking about it anymore. But nowadays I start more conversations as I am happy to tell her about the house project I tackled (or my analysis of how to go about tackling the next project), or something interested I read online, or some musical arrangement I’d been working on, etc.

We also typically watch some tv together in the evenings, so we have have some show we both can talk about. And we both listen to news podcasts so we have that to talk about if something was particularly interesting.

But I have noticed sometimes we don’t have much to say if we are out to eat at a restaurant, or at a party if we haven’t found someone else to talk to yet. Not really sure why that is, could be the social awkwardness of it. But a beer or a glass of wine helps get us chatting again.

Lady SA

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 459
  • Age: 27
  • Location: Midwest
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2018, 02:57:24 PM »
Married for 4 years, together for 9. We sometimes get into that rut you describe, where we don't have much exciting going on during the day, our routines are exactly the same day-to-day, and we sink into our phones out of boredom and then suddenly realize there's a sense of loneliness/disconnection.

Most often, our best/most frequent conversations come from:
1. Our shared hobbies/activities. Both DH and I ski and kayak competitively year-round, so we spend a lot of time together training, and talking about upcoming races, our performance at previous races, and technique/skills. We also like camping, hiking, anything outdoors really. This can generate conversations about our future dreams -- where would you want to hike next? How would we prepare for a long through-hike on the PCT? etc.
2. Making an effort to follow along as DH talks about his interests (and he does the same for me lol). I really couldn't care less about electronics, but DH is a computer engineer and is just naturally nuts about it. So I've soaked up enough knowledge from him over the years to have a passable conversation with him about it. I'll even initiate conversations about new speaker models or motherboards because I know he can get onto a roll and then all I have to do is nod and mmhmm once and a while. DH sends me articles during the day about finances and asks my opinion, or he will send me cute baby stuff.
3. Logistical items - we only have one car, and divorced parents, and various family members we like to visit, so planning visits and trips logistically is a good one. We can also deepen this conversation with talking about what we are looking forward to during xyz trip to visit Uncle Bob, etc.
4. Even when we do get into that habit of disengaging and scrolling on our phones, we will often come across a meme or funny video and show it to the other to get them to laugh and talk about how dumb/silly/cute it was. Or we send each other articles that we are reading and think are cool or thought-provoking, and then have a conversation about the subject.
5. Watching movies/TV or listening to podcasts, the subjects will often spark interesting conversations as we ask each other's opinions or viewpoints on what we just watched/listened to. After each episode, we will often turn to each other and spontaneously talk about what parts we enjoyed and which we didn't. Or if I'm feeling mixed about something, I'll ask "what did you think of the part when the characters did ___?"


Some general thoughts/tips:
I find the concept of emotional "bids" for attention to be spot-on. Check out Gottman's theory of bids. Anyway, we both read his book and we both work really hard to "turn toward" any bid for attention/affection either of us makes. That could be a question, a hand squeeze, gesturing for a hug, a look, etc. Initiating a conversation is another bid, and understandably, like you experience, having it kind of fall flat or not be reciprocated is deflating, discouraging, and there's a definite "ouch" feeling.

Making a conscious effort in our relationship to reward these connection attempts has really built a foundation where both of us feel really emotionally connected, intimate, and safe. It is a re-enforcing cycle as well -- the more of these conversations that are welcomed, the more frequently random, smaller, and intimacy-building conversations are initiated. But the more of those conversations that are rebuffed, fewer conversations and connections are initiated. Not because of malice on their part, but simply because it's human nature to be less inclined to converse if you perceive coolness or disinterest.

How to initiate and carry on a conversation, and not only that, but be charismatic and skillfully deepen the conversation to get the other person to open up and engage more fully with you, is a skill you can learn and grow. Because you are the one initiating this new change, you might have to give some grace and understand that your wife may not be very skilled at this yet - but you can coach her a bit :)

Approach your wife with a sense of curiosity. Not just about the events that are going on in her life, but about the human soul inside her. Ask her about her opinion about *everything* - even tiny things. Does she like that shade of blue? Does she like her sushi with tuna or shrimp? What did she think of that scene of the movie you just watched? If she could only choose one, would she rather drink coffee or eat chocolate for the rest of her life? Send her stuff (articles, podcasts, memes) and ask what she thought, and ask probing/more detailed questions if she gives a shallow (rebuff/unskilled) answer. Create change by modeling the behavior you want and giving her an example to follow.

The idea is initiate the conversation, and don't let her off the hook with a curt, shallow, surface-level answer. You need to probe deeper and be really curious about what that human soul underneath really thinks about the subject you brought up. Ask her to clarify, tell you more about her answer, what about xyz angle? Offer your full opinion on the subject as an example, and you can pause while you explain yourself to invite her thoughts as well. But also knowing that you've hit the limit is a skill too -- there are only so many opinions someone can have over whether you are out of milk or if the laundry needs to be done, you know?

Margie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
  • Location: SW Ontario
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2018, 03:08:37 PM »
Not DINKS but I think having children sometimes makes it harder as there is always something going on with them to discuss, teams, tryouts, school, events, etc...(together for 26 years, married for 22, had kids 6 years into marriage...)

We try hard to have time that we DO NOT talk about them or the house or anything mundane....I will never be interested in some of the stuff that he is but I try to show some interest for example a few years ago he asked me to watch hockey with him (I hate watching sports unless it is minor sports) so I said OK.  Watched a few games bored out of my mind but when I realized how much he liked me watching I started to pay attention and now I am a fan too...GO HABS GO!!! 
His other hobby that makes me delirious is fishing...Had a boat that was totaled in an accident (other guy's fault) and we just bought a new one...I had to bite my tongue as they are expensive.  But he works hard and really loves to fish.  I promised him I will try to like it this time (I used to do yoga on boat, read, took a nap, etc..)  It does help that the kids love to fish, however, he is excited because he thinks I will love it once I actually catch one...we will see...this might be a fake it until I make it situation!   I do have decent luck so hopefully I catch a few right off the hop!  I really enjoy planning trips and doing the family financials - two things that he will just go along with whatever I want...I have to drag him into coversations about it!
My main hobbies are crafting and reading so not really "couple" things and I enjoy the alone time too.
I agree with the pet part - some of my favourite moments are walking the dog in the forest everything quiet and peaceful...
If you are looking for things to try couple's yoga is fun, basically anything that gets your body moving!

omachi

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 710
  • Location: Minnesota
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2018, 03:21:51 PM »
I meet your criteria. We're perfectly comfortable sitting in long silences, but we do talk a lot. Some topics, some of which haven't been mentioned yet:
  • Both of you read a book (the same book) and then discuss said book. Fiction, non-fiction, whatever.
  • Solve the world's problems. Pick an issue and describe how you'd solve it if you were God Emperor of Earth.
  • Sore spots. See if anything is bothering either of you. Fix it if it's in your control. Commiserate otherwise.
  • Hobbies. You don't have to enjoy their hobby, but you should know enough to follow and ask appropriate questions.
  • Meals. Could be tonight's dinner. Or plan a ridiculous meal, five courses minimum. You don't have to make it.
There's lots of stuff to talk about, and if you pick something open ended or big enough you can keep coming back to it.

One

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 222
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2018, 03:43:26 PM »
We are the same, learn to enjoy the silence and be thankful you didn't marry an incessant talker.

Dicey

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 10486
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2018, 03:58:19 PM »
Married for six years. Dated for less than a year before we married. Way less. Known each other for 18 years. At the  moment, we're doing a total studs-out flip project. We talk about it all the time. We still have about three months before we finish. Then we can go back to all the stuff we used to talk about.

pbkmaine

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8332
  • Age: 63
  • Location: The Villages, Florida
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2018, 04:21:30 PM »
We don’t always talk. In fact, some of our most important conversations have come after a period of silence. We take long walks, and comment on nothing more than the weather and the things we see on the way out, and then tend to go deeper on the way home. It’s a pattern we have had for more than 20 years. What is important to us both is touch. Holding hands. A pat on the back. Lots of hugs. We also joke a lot with each other, sometimes with an edge of sarcasm. I just asked DH if he was conducting a fruit fly experiment in the kitchen, since there was a lot of crap on the cutting board he hadn’t cleaned up from lunch. We do try to pay attention when the other has something to say, or seems off in some way.

wordnerd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1159
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2018, 04:27:50 PM »
Before we had kids, we did crosswords together and listened to podcasts.

I agree with the poster who said to talk about the silence. Seems like a good place to start.

SimpleCycle

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 896
  • Location: Chicago
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2018, 04:32:18 PM »
We're not DINKS, we're DIYKS, so we obviously talk about the children a decent amount, but I think our experience is relevant.

My wife likes to talk about work A LOT and it's been a bit of a challenge in our relationship to find other topics of conversation.  I'm very much a leave work at work kind of person and honestly don't care about her work minutiae, and her family tends to view talking about work as what you do, especially at dinner  We also each have gone through phases of checking in too often with social media when the other is present.  I think for some people the conversation in marriage comes easy, but for others it does not and you have to work on it.

-We often talk about stuff we heard on the news or a podcast, which often is more engaging a conversation than talking about books we are reading.
-We also have done the "read the same book and discuss" thing, which is fun occasionally.
-We kvetch about city living.  Tourists' inability to cram into a rush hour train never gets old for us.
-We try to talk about our hopes and dreams for the future.  Where we see ourselves in 10 years, that kind of stuff.
-Sometimes during down time, we use the Gottman card decks app to start conversations.  We particularly like the "open ended questions" one.
-Sharing cool experiences (going to an art museum, taking a challenging hike, etc) tends to give us more to talk about.
-More and more, just sharing an experience without talking the whole time seems like enough.

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1493
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2018, 04:46:38 PM »
Husband and I have been together for 17 years this month (married 15 years). No kids. Three pets.

We’re both introverts so we’re genuinely happy to both be reading quietly on our tablets in the same room. We do talk frequently, though, and our conversations tend to revolve around world news, politics, notable things in friends’ and family members’ lives, food (we’re both budget foodies and good home cooks), hobbies (I’m a singer and knitter, he’s a home brewer), books, weird people that he meets at work, weird people that I meet while running errands, the pets, travel plans...

If we go out and do something fun together (concert, play, hiking, etc.), we usually enjoy talking about that experience. I’ve asked my in-laws for an annual pass for a regional parks system as my Christmas gift this year, and husband and I are planning to buy some used binoculars and start birding (in addition to hiking).

And yes, sometimes when we’re too tired or cranky to come up with good conversation, a good cat video or meme is always welcome.

CNM

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 490
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2018, 04:59:08 PM »
News/current events, interesting and bizarre facts that we come across in articles or podcasts, books that we're reading, places we want to go and things we'd like to do some day, money and investments, people that we know, relive odd/funny stories from the past, our families, planning for the upcoming days/weeks/months, make up funny stories about our dog, our life goals, discuss unusual conspiracy theories, all sorts of stuff!!
I've been with my spouse for 17 years, married for 12. 

use2betrix

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1700
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2018, 05:33:13 PM »
Wife and I have been married 3 together 7. We are SINK.

We rarely run out of stuff to talk about. We are together basically 24/7 when I’m not working. All our hobbies are together. Gym, dog lark, movies, etc. rarely hang out with friends not together. We’ve taken several sabbaticals including a 4 week, 3000 mile motorcycle trip, a 2 month, 8000 mile camping trip. The epitome of 24/7 together.

We don’t talk about anything to special, but we talk a lot. We enjoy the same music so in the car we listen to music, but still end up talking a lot. Wife might tell me about her family, or errands she ran, things she accomplished that day, stuff about our dog, etc.

I talk to her a ton about finance, FIRE, different options, cities we may want to live, our next sabbaticals, things I need her to do while I’m at work. I’d even bet on an average day while I’m at work we send around 50 texts back and forth. Just random things but often somewhat important. I do understand she gets a little lonely sometimes so I aim to keep her company even when sometimes I may want to just “relax.” I talk about my work sometimes but not as much as I could. I get pretty stressed sometimes and often just come home to forget about it, and she’s helpful with that, but is a good listener when I need to vent.

It does help we have the same interests and hobbies. Never disagree about what movie to see or where or what to eat.

This is a thought provoking topic for sure. One I haven’t put much thought in. I do find that our relationship is very abnormal compared to most. I feel I’ve won the wife lottery, a lot of friends have told me that too.

Edit* - I was just sitting in the bath with my wife and realized we even do that together lol. We lived in a 5th wheel with a stand up shower for 5ish years. We always showered together. Now, that were finally in an apartment, we shower together, then run the bath and take a hot bath together after. So non-mustachian but so nice. And weird, I know. The whole time we talked about our upcoming Christmas trip, camping, FIRE plans, packing list, a class im taking, etc.
« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 06:29:33 PM by use2betrix »

Zikoris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3435
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Vancouver, BC
  • Vancouverstachian
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2018, 07:44:25 PM »
We've been together for almost ten years. He's not a huge talker - I probably do about 70% of the talking in our relationship, but that's fine. Like other people, a good chunk of what we talk about is logistical stuff - how should we do this or that, what are we doing this weekend, etc. We also talk a lot about current events, both in our lives and worldwide - news, politics, articles we read online, stuff going on with our family and friends.

Travel is a big topic of discussion in our household, since we do so much of it. We often talk about places we've been, stuff we liked and disliked, or found funny/strange. And also and immediately-upcoming trips, and ideas for future trips.

I'd say 15%-ish of our conversations can really only be described as insanity. This is where I try to convince him to adopt a goat, or we discuss the idea of building a pirate ship to live on, or we come up with ludicrous "If you had to choose between X or Y...?" scenarios.

Also, there are lots of terrible jokes and puns.

Abe

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1264
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2018, 08:38:07 PM »
My wife and I have been together for most of our lives (17 years). I'm definitely more of a talker than she is, but she's a better listener. Most of our conversations are about news, something interesting we read or heard on podcasts/NPR/etc, future plans for vacations or hobbies, our work (we're both physicians), and so on. We have a kid now and do talk about them a bit, but not all the time. I like to fill silence with silly jokes.

mhlavac

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2018, 09:20:17 PM »
DW and I have been married for 10 years now, together for a bit over 12 and no kids in the picture.  Early on in our relationship, we worked together and there was no shortage of work talk at home.  Once we both moved off into different directions in our careers, we had a tough time finding things that we could relate about.  We bought a fixer-upper house and have been doing projects on it during the weekends and this has given us something to collaborate on together.

Along the way I discovered FIRE.  DW and I talked about where we were in the process and how soon we might be able to retire, but it seemed so far off to both of us.  I started sharing the how I was changing our investments and why I was doing it as well as when we would reach milestone numbers.  One day the question came up about why we were working so hard and doing all of this.  Sure, retirement sounds great, but neither of wanted to sit on the couch and watch videos all day.  So we started to dream together.  What did we want ER to look like?  Where did we want to live?  What sorts of things did we have to take into account (aging parents, travel, pets, etc).  Were there things that we could be doing to get to ER sooner?  We also watch videos on YouTube about other peoples experiences, whether it's homesteading, RV travel, small engine repair, photography, sewing, etc.

Dreaming together has given us a lot to talk about and something to work hard the last couple of years before ER.

Linea_Norway

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5299
  • Location: Norway
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #21 on: December 12, 2018, 06:11:58 AM »
DH and I have been together for 26 years and got married after 10 years.

We do both appreciate some time to ourselves, as we both have a social live on social media as well, with people we occasionally meet in real life. So we do sit in the living room reading both our iPad from time to time. We occasionally show each other interesting or funny things we read.

But for the rest we talk about lots of things named above: politics, world events, household/next trip logistics, possible future trips, theoretical crazy ideas, house improvements. We also make fun with each other, more often when standing in the kitchen than sitting in the living room. Also we talk about our hobbies. When we don't both do that hobby, we try to show an interest in the other's hobby.

If any of us has trouble at work, we also talk about that. It is nice to have a place to be able to talk about that and feel you are not alone and get support from your spouse.

We also like to (binge) watch interesting TV series together and comment on them.

FIRE 20/20

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 306
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #22 on: December 12, 2018, 08:04:24 AM »
Some general thoughts/tips:
I find the concept of emotional "bids" for attention to be spot-on. Check out Gottman's theory of bids. Anyway, we both read his book and we both work really hard to "turn toward" any bid for attention/affection either of us makes. That could be a question, a hand squeeze, gesturing for a hug, a look, etc. Initiating a conversation is another bid, and understandably, like you experience, having it kind of fall flat or not be reciprocated is deflating, discouraging, and there's a definite "ouch" feeling.

Thanks, Lady SA!  I hadn't heard of Gottman or bids in this context, but after reading a few links it resonates very strongly with me.  I've been with my DINK partner for about 27 years, and our relationship is stronger than ever.  Part of that, I think, was stumbling across this concept or at least a related one.  Earlier in my life I viewed conversation as a task with a specific objective.  If she asked me a question, I would generally answer the questions succinctly and directly.  I wasn't yet aware of how often a question is really the other person putting out a metaphorical hand for connection.  For example - if she asked where we should go for our next vacation I would tend to provide a direct answer to the question (e.g. I have a prioritized list of 10 places I'd like to go. I can text you the list).  Now I view many forms of communication primarily or at least significantly as about the subtext.  Now I might respond, "we had a good time kayaking together when we were in Norway; maybe we should go somewhere we can kayak again.  Or do you think the reason it was so fun is that we did something new together and we should try to find another new activity on our next vacation?  What do you think about bungee jumping?"  The point is that I try to gauge whether the question is really literal - e.g. can you hand me the hammer?  Or if the question is her reaching out, often subconsciously, to make a connection.  If it might be the latter I try to physically turn towards her, make eye contact, and engage with the reason behind the question.  I think this method of engaging does two things.  I think it brings us closer together, but it also dramatically extends each conversation. 

Philociraptor

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 948
  • Age: 30
  • Location: DFW, TX
  • Eat. Sleep. Lift. Repeat.
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #23 on: December 12, 2018, 09:02:59 AM »
Lots of interesting answers here folks! Thanks for the many ideas. I can tell that part of the problem is being boring: no kids, no pets, no projects, no hobbies, low information diet, etc. I personally have no interest in pets, and she has no interest in kids, so those are out. Between working, eating, training, and sleeping, we have very little time for projects or hobbies. I try to actively avoid news and current events since they are almost always negative. She doesn't like sitting still long enough to watch movies (but we'll binge TV shows as long as each episode is an hour or less). We listen to music and read separately. On my end I suppose I can make more of an effort to initiate new things or find new preferences, which would give us topics of discussion.

I find the concept of emotional "bids" for attention to be spot-on. Check out Gottman's theory of bids. Anyway, we both read his book and we both work really hard to "turn toward" any bid for attention/affection either of us makes. That could be a question, a hand squeeze, gesturing for a hug, a look, etc. Initiating a conversation is another bid, and understandably, like you experience, having it kind of fall flat or not be reciprocated is deflating, discouraging, and there's a definite "ouch" feeling...

I loved this answer @Lady SA ! Which book of his would you recommend? Looking into "bids", it definitely makes a lot of sense. If I ever repeat a story I'm immediately told that I've already told her that. Details about my day are often just nodded at, grunted at, or answered with "okay" and nothing else. I think I feel like my bids are being rejected, so I don't want to make them anymore. You're absolutely right though, making more bids and not letting hers expire quickly would definitely help. Thanks!

Edit// In rereading my post it looks like I'm being overly negative about my wife. She is almost always wonderful to be around, it's just those times when she doesn't feel like engaging that I have issues. I dread going to restaurants where we have to face each other because that leads to awkward silence approximately 100% of the time; it's much easier if we can sit next to each other. As far as bids goes, I know for a fact that I reject her sexual bids more often than I should; she just has a much higher sex drive than I do. I think it's a low self-esteem issue, a relic from my past where I was much fatter. So the sword definitely cuts both ways on that issue.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2018, 09:09:18 AM by Philociraptor »

Tris Prior

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2902
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #24 on: December 12, 2018, 09:25:52 AM »


Some general thoughts/tips:
I find the concept of emotional "bids" for attention to be spot-on. Check out Gottman's theory of bids. Anyway, we both read his book and we both work really hard to "turn toward" any bid for attention/affection either of us makes. That could be a question, a hand squeeze, gesturing for a hug, a look, etc. Initiating a conversation is another bid, and understandably, like you experience, having it kind of fall flat or not be reciprocated is deflating, discouraging, and there's a definite "ouch" feeling.

Making a conscious effort in our relationship to reward these connection attempts has really built a foundation where both of us feel really emotionally connected, intimate, and safe. It is a re-enforcing cycle as well -- the more of these conversations that are welcomed, the more frequently random, smaller, and intimacy-building conversations are initiated. But the more of those conversations that are rebuffed, fewer conversations and connections are initiated. Not because of malice on their part, but simply because it's human nature to be less inclined to converse if you perceive coolness or disinterest.

Whoa, this is awesome! My partner and I have been together for 15 years, and this is the best explanation I have seen of what's going on with us lately - he does not turn toward my bids. Over time, it's made me feel like I'm an annoyance, or am boring, or that he doesn't want to be around me, or that I talk too much andshould just STFU (I am an introvert and do not talk a lot compared to others, I don't think). I am going to find out more about this and show it to him if I can figure out a way to do so that won't make him run screaming.


As far as bids goes, I know for a fact that I reject her sexual bids more often than I should; she just has a much higher sex drive than I do. I think it's a low self-esteem issue, a relic from my past where I was much fatter. So the sword definitely cuts both ways on that issue.

OK, so, if you're anything like me it might not be just due to weight. I find it really hard to want sex when I feel like my partner has been ignoring me all day/week/month, or doesn't want to talk to me, or is not, as mentioned above, turning toward my bids. It makes me kind of angry and feel sort of used - oh, sure, I'm good for sex but I want to TALK TO YOU and connect emotionally and you're not interested in that at all. It's not a conscious withholding of sex on my part as punishment, it's more that I don't feel valued or listened to, and I feel ignored, and therefore I have a hard time wanting to make myself vulnerable in that way. If that makes sense. (I am a woman partnered to a man; I don't see that you referred specifically to your gender and I don't want to assume)

aetherie

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 792
  • Age: 27
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2018, 09:33:06 AM »
I loved this answer @Lady SA ! Which book of his would you recommend?

I'm not Lady SA but I would recommend The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work!

SilveradoBojangles

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #26 on: December 12, 2018, 09:36:34 AM »
We have also known each other since high school, and been together for almost 15 years now, so we know (and were likely there for) all of each others stories. Sometimes we are quiet, which is fine, but we still seem to find stuff to talk about. We both purposely try to remember and share funny anecdotes about our day. It's all inconsequential but it is entertaining and helps us stay connected. We also ask "How was your run?" "How was Lowes?" "How was your meeting?" which is a prompt to talk about those things. An evergreen topic for us is speculating about what our crazy family members will do next. Also, planning for the future - we are remodeling our kitchen, we are trying to start a family, we are always planning some vacation, so that gives us things to talk about.


wenchsenior

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2159
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #27 on: December 12, 2018, 11:37:52 AM »
OP, it sounds like two things are at play here. One is that you don't feel as connected to your partner as you'd like; the other is that you feel your life is a bit sterile.  As to the first, evening conversation is only one way to connect and needn't be your primary one.  But regardless, how did the two of you originally connect and what did you do and talk about ? I presume that at some point when you were falling in love you did many things together that weren't work related and you must have talked about them, right? Can you reconnect on those topics to start? Start a 'new things' date night? That sort of thing? 


DH and I are DINKs as well, and have been together more than 28 years at this point. We do occasionally run into this problem, and would probably run into it a lot more if we actually ate dinner out more often in the evening rather than our routine of usually watching an hour or so of movie/tv while we eat.  But to some degree, I think low-conversation, low-key evenings are pretty normal for introverted people in a long-standing, regular routine with stable jobs/interests.  Both of us also tend to be pretty tired by the evening, so we tend to have much more vigorous conversations on walks during the day, or during road trips, vacations, etc, b/c that's when we are stimulated by new things.
 
Lots of excellent suggestions on this thread, which I agree with and have worked well for us. My job is ultra-tedious to discuss, so that's not useful. His can be fascinating, but of course it is not that way every day or even every week.  We have moderate interest in each other's hobbies but can't discuss in great detail, so that's more 'engaged listening'. News/politics often comes up, but we actually try not to fall into that b/c it gets both of us so depressed and agitated. So we watch movies/tv (more challenging material is better for conversations), we listen to podcasts, we listen to audiobooks sometimes while eating dinner (e.g., we particularly enjoyed the audio books for the Artemis Fowl series...kids' books, really fun).  We discuss books we are reading, esp if we've read the same one.  Nonfiction is usually the best for discussion material.  DH tends to try to discuss adventurous-sounding travel ideas late at night, but thinking about spontaneous activities or challenging travel tends to make me anxious when I'm tired, so I prefer to talk about potential trips when we're on walks.  We sometimes discuss family, though that often comes with a lot of stress, so it's often not exactly enjoyable. 

Sometimes we engage in 'thankfulness' type conversations (esp if we are feeling negative about life), wherein we take turns reminding each other of all the amazing stuff we've seen and done together over the years.  That tends to make us feel both more contented and reminds us of how happy we make each other, and how fortunate we both feel to have each other as mates.

When we are out somewhere eating dinner and we are just blanking out, I usually have a few 'conversation starters' written in a notebook in my purse for just that reason. The internet is full of them.

To my second point in my opening paragraph, I definitely subscribe to the idea that if you want to be interesting as a conversationalist, you have to cultivate a wide variety of interests and/or activities, at least on a casual level, and that does take a bit of effort.  Personally, I get pretty bored with myself, let alone my partner's conversation, if I think about the same subjects all the time.  So perhaps you could focus on program of self-enrichment, as opposed to worrying specifically about what to talk to your partner about. See where that takes you.


YHD

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 39
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #28 on: December 12, 2018, 11:54:10 AM »
@Lady SA is right on.  Gottman and "emotional bids" has helped us/me improve how we/i communicate.  I needed to really observe when hubs was making a bid as it's completely different from how i would make a bid.  the better i got at recognizing his bids and responding, the better he got at recognizing and responding to mine.  and i got more comfortable pointing out when i made a big bid and asking for a response.

our marriage has really gotten better in the past 2 years because of improved communication.  we talk about politics, stuff that annoy us, my work, his day (retired), family, vacation, chores (him--i could care less about the minutiae of household tasks, but as a retired person this is what gives his day structure so i listen.  especially as his love language is service and doing chores i have recognized is an expression of love.)

i notice silences most when we are eating out.  he is not a big talker.  he is not a foodie.  so i try to entertain him.  i'll make up stories about the people around us and ask him to do the same.  i need to work on my "date night" convo.


wenchsenior

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2159
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2018, 11:58:05 AM »


Some general thoughts/tips:
I find the concept of emotional "bids" for attention to be spot-on. Check out Gottman's theory of bids. Anyway, we both read his book and we both work really hard to "turn toward" any bid for attention/affection either of us makes. That could be a question, a hand squeeze, gesturing for a hug, a look, etc. Initiating a conversation is another bid, and understandably, like you experience, having it kind of fall flat or not be reciprocated is deflating, discouraging, and there's a definite "ouch" feeling.

Making a conscious effort in our relationship to reward these connection attempts has really built a foundation where both of us feel really emotionally connected, intimate, and safe. It is a re-enforcing cycle as well -- the more of these conversations that are welcomed, the more frequently random, smaller, and intimacy-building conversations are initiated. But the more of those conversations that are rebuffed, fewer conversations and connections are initiated. Not because of malice on their part, but simply because it's human nature to be less inclined to converse if you perceive coolness or disinterest.

Whoa, this is awesome! My partner and I have been together for 15 years, and this is the best explanation I have seen of what's going on with us lately - he does not turn toward my bids. Over time, it's made me feel like I'm an annoyance, or am boring, or that he doesn't want to be around me, or that I talk too much andshould just STFU (I am an introvert and do not talk a lot compared to others, I don't think). I am going to find out more about this and show it to him if I can figure out a way to do so that won't make him run screaming.


As far as bids goes, I know for a fact that I reject her sexual bids more often than I should; she just has a much higher sex drive than I do. I think it's a low self-esteem issue, a relic from my past where I was much fatter. So the sword definitely cuts both ways on that issue.

OK, so, if you're anything like me it might not be just due to weight. I find it really hard to want sex when I feel like my partner has been ignoring me all day/week/month, or doesn't want to talk to me, or is not, as mentioned above, turning toward my bids. It makes me kind of angry and feel sort of used - oh, sure, I'm good for sex but I want to TALK TO YOU and connect emotionally and you're not interested in that at all. It's not a conscious withholding of sex on my part as punishment, it's more that I don't feel valued or listened to, and I feel ignored, and therefore I have a hard time wanting to make myself vulnerable in that way. If that makes sense. (I am a woman partnered to a man; I don't see that you referred specifically to your gender and I don't want to assume)

I suspect it is pretty common for some people to use the sex itself to re-engage and feel intimate when they find themselves feeling distanced, and other people to not want to engage in sex unless already feeling somewhat intimate with partner.  Likewise, one partner might approach sex as more of a 'fun romp' while the other might be looking for a more 'protracted, emotionally intense' experience. And physical/psychological issues play a role in sex for sure, as well as other areas in the relationship.  Navigating that sort of thing is somewhat challenging (esp, around sex b/c it is so intimate), but the key is to pay attention to what the other person needs emotionally as opposed to what they are literally saying/doing.  DH and I find we have to regularly verbalize what we are trying to do emotionally with sexual bids, in order to stay on the same page. We try to be clear about intentions going in, so that the other person doesn't feel rejected, used, etc.  I suspect if I analyzed lots of our daily interactions I'd find that we unconsciously do this in other ways as well, but that it came about with less conscious effort.
« Last Edit: December 12, 2018, 12:01:29 PM by wenchsenior »

Noodle

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1169
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #30 on: December 12, 2018, 12:07:00 PM »
Lots of interesting answers here folks! Thanks for the many ideas. I can tell that part of the problem is being boring: no kids, no pets, no projects, no hobbies, low information diet, etc. I personally have no interest in pets, and she has no interest in kids, so those are out. Between working, eating, training, and sleeping, we have very little time for projects or hobbies. I try to actively avoid news and current events since they are almost always negative. She doesn't like sitting still long enough to watch movies (but we'll binge TV shows as long as each episode is an hour or less). We listen to music and read separately. On my end I suppose I can make more of an effort to initiate new things or find new preferences, which would give us topics of discussion.

I wonder if maybe your diet is too "low-information?" Not necessarily in the sense of keeping up with current events or politics, but there are a world of other information sources out there that are interesting or even uplifting. I use a blog reader and follow quite a few blogs. Other than a couple of local news blogs, none of them have anything to do with current events--there are some art and design, some webcomics, some professional, some from my previous area of academic interest, some for food and cooking and restaurant reviews, and some that are just interesting writers. Or if that's a bit much, there are also individual blogs like kottke.org which link to a lot of really interesting stuff. I also use Instapaper to grab interesting-looking articles that I can go back and read at a later time.

Candace

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 582
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #31 on: December 12, 2018, 12:25:34 PM »
Remember the old saying:

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." ~Unknown

There are always interesting and uplifting ideas to discuss. You don't have to watch the news. Perhaps an interesting book or even just an article about an idea that comes up during your joint binge-watching? If you're watching mysteries, how about discussing the criminal justice system? If you're binge-watching science fiction, how about discussing what you'd like to see come to pass in the future? On second thought, the "goals, dreams and ambitions" subject is always a good one.

Lanthiriel

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 792
  • Location: Portlandia
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2018, 03:30:28 PM »
This was already suggested, but do you communicate any other way than face-to-face? I've been with my husband for 13 years, married 10, and there's not a lot of new things to learn about each other. But we use Google Hangouts to check in with each other throughout the day. There's no pressure to be immediately available, but it's nice to comment on things throughout the day and stay connected. It also stops me from needing to unload about my day as soon as I get home, which my husband doesn't love.

I also second prioritizing touch if you feel yourselves drifting away. My husband is very much an introvert, so it's not unusual for him to be very quiet in a day but then come up and give me a big hug when I'm doing dishes or something. It sort of stops the need to have a pointless conversation while still connecting.

In terms of the original question of what we talk about, it's a lot of chatter about our dogs, some about our hobbies (him: video gaming, me: knitting), house maintenance, we provide new information about our family members that the other many not know, a little about current events, and planning for the future. We both love real estate and are hoping to buy our first rental in 2019 or 2020, so we talk a lot about the financial implications of that, our parameters for the type of house, etc. We also plan and, occasionally, execute home improvement projects. We spend a lot of time flipping through blueprints and looking at lots dreaming about our future mini farm.

It sounds like you two need to develop a shared interest and make more of an effort to engage each other?

Brother Esau

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 468
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2018, 04:28:45 PM »
DINK here. Every morning is "how did you sleep?".

In general we discuss current events in the world or specific things we experienced that day while apart. After that, we've always appreciated quiet time chilling in our nest.

tigersforsale

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #34 on: December 12, 2018, 05:38:22 PM »
My husband and I are both in the legal field, and we're long distance so talk on the phone every day. We talk about:

1) Politics and current events
2) Legal issues
3) Law practice and law school (blech, I try to avoid this one)
4) Things that happened today (70%+ of this category is not that interesting, as you have noticed)
5) Future plans
6) Interesting ideas we've come across

If we're together in person, sometimes the conversation naturally dies down and we'll work or browse the internet. Usually, this provides fodder for a new conversation to spark back up, as long as you read about something that your partner takes an interest in. Is she interested in particular subjects? Following a story on news media? Like a particular TV show? Check out those things yourself and strike up a conversation about them.

OtherJen

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1493
  • Location: Metro Detroit
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #35 on: December 12, 2018, 07:29:36 PM »
.

our marriage has really gotten better in the past 2 years because of improved communication.  we talk about politics, stuff that annoy us, my work, his day (retired), family, vacation, chores (him--i could care less about the minutiae of household tasks, but as a retired person this is what gives his day structure so i listen.  especially as his love language is service and doing chores i have recognized is an expression of love.)

Yes! I work at home and am a freelancer so I never have workplace/coworker drama (although I think husband is grateful because my last workplace was toxic). He very patiently listens to my grocery stories. I think he’s figured out that I take care of the groceries and most meal prep because my major love language is service.

stashja

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 42
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #36 on: December 12, 2018, 07:39:02 PM »
Our reading
Our music
Our creative pursuits
Work (we are professors in different subjects at one university)
The latest obnoxious or self destructive thing my relative from hell did
Pets
Friends
Politics
Agriculture and gardening
What’s on downtown
Feelings

limeandpepper

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4482
  • Location: Australasia
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #37 on: December 12, 2018, 10:12:14 PM »
We talk about anything - whatever's been happening, cats and other animals, what are we having to eat, TV shows, what's on the news, work stuff, friends, family, neighbours, what we've seen on the internet, opinions on various topics, future plans, travel...

But there isn't always something to say, so during those times we are also happy to just do our own thing while trolling each other occasionally... silly interaction can be great fun. :p

When I say we talk about work stuff, we don't actually care that much about the finer technical details about the actual work, in fact to this day my partner still comments "I still don't know what it really is you do" lol. But for example he has a fairly relaxed workplace and would tell me about the office pranks his colleagues get up to. And I might tell him about how my workplace is pretty flexible and we could possibly do things like go live in another country for a year and do work remotely.

You mentioned awkwardness at restaurants. We don't eat out as much as we used to, but we like discussing what's on the menu. If something is really delicious we talk about whether we can replicate it at home and how. Occasionally if the opportunity represents itself we will be busybodies and speculate on what the situation is with two people at another table - are they on a first date, are there sparks, what's the story...

Linea_Norway

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5299
  • Location: Norway
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #38 on: December 13, 2018, 01:26:24 AM »
Remember the old saying:

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people." ~Unknown

There are always interesting and uplifting ideas to discuss. You don't have to watch the news. Perhaps an interesting book or even just an article about an idea that comes up during your joint binge-watching? If you're watching mysteries, how about discussing the criminal justice system? If you're binge-watching science fiction, how about discussing what you'd like to see come to pass in the future? On second thought, the "goals, dreams and ambitions" subject is always a good one.

This makes sense. Sometimes we feel that we are having a really good conversation at home and those are often about ideas. Those conversations feel better than the usual normal ones. Same for lunch table conversations at work. Occasionally, you get a really good idea conversation. But those events are quite seldom.

Loren Ver

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 498
  • Location: Midwest USA
  • I Retired. Yah!
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2018, 08:50:23 AM »
Note- DH and I are odd, we think and do things differently than most people.  We have been married 12 years.  We dated (mostly long distance) for 5 years before that.  As you can see communication is important to us :).

Background, DH is pretty introverted and doesn't start random conversations easily.  This means I did all the starting and then dominating the conversations.  This is fine for things that need a decision (what's for dinner) not good for just talking. 

So now we have an envelope named "Topics (no peeking)."  When you think of a topic, to write it on the index card and stick it in the envelope.  This also means we don't forget what we wanted to talk about (common occurrence).  Then when we are doing something (going for a walk, driving across the country) and we want to have a random chat, we pull out a card. 

These topics are all over the board.  We are both readers and watchers, so lots of stuff from Books and movies, or even just trailers, or click bait titles.  Anywhere we can get new ideas.  We also both work in science so that gets thrown in when we hear about neat stuff. 

When a topic is drawn,  Both of us answer, so it balances things out.  Some force you to take a side and we hash it out.  We generally try to pick different sides to gain a greater understanding of why we believe what we believe.

I think the thing I value the most about having talks with my husband is that we can have some very rough conversations about very deep topics, and not everything you say has to be your opinion.  We generally go through all levels of a debate and both take different sides.  No one comes out with hurt feelings nor feelings like the other person is a terrible person.  Having someone that you are really safe to work things out with is so important.  Many people in life wont let you verbally explore the bad side because that makes you a bad person, or they don't think you can change your opinion with different data.

For your actual question here are some recent topics (truncated for length):
1.   If telepaths developed in the not too distant future, should there be special restrictions placed on them?
2.  If you had to pick between a job living below poverty but with high impact vs a meaningless job with high pay, which would you pick?  Note- no chance of early retirement.
3.  It is better to the lucky than good. Discuss
4.  The internet has made the world a more terrible place.  Discuss. (I'm sure the reciprocal will pop up some day)
5.  US immigration (many aspects)
6.  Prions and their survivability in being autoclaved.  Impacts on neurosurvery .
7.  Next year I am looking forward to...
8.  MMM posts of interest
9.  What super hero would you like protecting your city and why?
10.  If/when artificial wombs take grow a fetus at any age, does this remove the body autonomy argument for abortion?  If the fetus can be removed and grown should the parents have to pay for that?  Society?  Does it matter?

We both now look forward to our walks with topics.  We generally get 2-3 per one hour walk.  We also like to let the topic meander. 

LV


Tris Prior

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2902
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2018, 09:53:36 AM »


I suspect it is pretty common for some people to use the sex itself to re-engage and feel intimate when they find themselves feeling distanced, and other people to not want to engage in sex unless already feeling somewhat intimate with partner.  Likewise, one partner might approach sex as more of a 'fun romp' while the other might be looking for a more 'protracted, emotionally intense' experience. And physical/psychological issues play a role in sex for sure, as well as other areas in the relationship.  Navigating that sort of thing is somewhat challenging (esp, around sex b/c it is so intimate), but the key is to pay attention to what the other person needs emotionally as opposed to what they are literally saying/doing.  DH and I find we have to regularly verbalize what we are trying to do emotionally with sexual bids, in order to stay on the same page. We try to be clear about intentions going in, so that the other person doesn't feel rejected, used, etc.  I suspect if I analyzed lots of our daily interactions I'd find that we unconsciously do this in other ways as well, but that it came about with less conscious effort.

Fair enough - you know, I'm not sure we ever had a discussion about what our emotional needs are around sex. That's definitely worth a conversation. I don't think he's consciously using me AT ALL but if my brain hasn't been romanced or paid attention to in some way, that is how I experience a sexual bid. I know that #metoo has largely colored my views on this, regarding having sex when I don't want to, but that's probably off topic for this thread.

Lady SA

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 459
  • Age: 27
  • Location: Midwest
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #41 on: December 13, 2018, 11:51:23 AM »
Lots of interesting answers here folks! Thanks for the many ideas. I can tell that part of the problem is being boring: no kids, no pets, no projects, no hobbies, low information diet, etc. I personally have no interest in pets, and she has no interest in kids, so those are out. Between working, eating, training, and sleeping, we have very little time for projects or hobbies. I try to actively avoid news and current events since they are almost always negative. She doesn't like sitting still long enough to watch movies (but we'll binge TV shows as long as each episode is an hour or less). We listen to music and read separately. On my end I suppose I can make more of an effort to initiate new things or find new preferences, which would give us topics of discussion.

I find the concept of emotional "bids" for attention to be spot-on. Check out Gottman's theory of bids. Anyway, we both read his book and we both work really hard to "turn toward" any bid for attention/affection either of us makes. That could be a question, a hand squeeze, gesturing for a hug, a look, etc. Initiating a conversation is another bid, and understandably, like you experience, having it kind of fall flat or not be reciprocated is deflating, discouraging, and there's a definite "ouch" feeling...

I loved this answer @Lady SA ! Which book of his would you recommend? Looking into "bids", it definitely makes a lot of sense. If I ever repeat a story I'm immediately told that I've already told her that. Details about my day are often just nodded at, grunted at, or answered with "okay" and nothing else. I think I feel like my bids are being rejected, so I don't want to make them anymore. You're absolutely right though, making more bids and not letting hers expire quickly would definitely help. Thanks!

Edit// In rereading my post it looks like I'm being overly negative about my wife. She is almost always wonderful to be around, it's just those times when she doesn't feel like engaging that I have issues. I dread going to restaurants where we have to face each other because that leads to awkward silence approximately 100% of the time; it's much easier if we can sit next to each other. As far as bids goes, I know for a fact that I reject her sexual bids more often than I should; she just has a much higher sex drive than I do. I think it's a low self-esteem issue, a relic from my past where I was much fatter. So the sword definitely cuts both ways on that issue.

I'm glad to be helpful! Some wonderful helper already posted the title of the book, so I'll leave that alone, but I also have some more thoughts to share! :)
I can definitely see how frustrating that situation would be! My DH is not a natural talker. It was like pulling teeth (actually, it still is) to get him to give me more than a one-word answer to "how was your day?". He just was, by nature, not a skilled conversationalist, and was not picking up on my bid for connection. I felt closer to him when I know how he was feeling, and I felt rebuffed and deflated every time I got a curt "good". He, on the other hand, felt bewildered (and suspicious, stemming from his childhood of divorced parents fishing for information on the other spouse) that I was asking him intrusive questions about his mundane day where he did the same thing as yesterday and the day before. Until I got comfortable telling him what I needed (and him explaining his own nervous feelings around the same situation), we were at a very frustrating and upsetting impasse.

Your situation is definitely fixable with some vulnerable communication. The best skill in these "confrontational/vulnerable" situations to use is called "'I' statements. If you explain your own feelings/reactions to a situation, it can help focus your wife and the conversation around problem solving and she is less likely to get defensive. You also want to invite/ask what she is feeling in the same situation. The basic formula is "When you do X (in y situation), I feel Z." This can be for both positive and negative situations! Imagine creating a reinforcing loop where when your wife complements you, you say "man, when you say things like that I just feel incredible", and she also gets a little jolt of dopamine at doing something well, which makes her want to do it again. Recognizing/verbally rewarding actions that you like and bringing up actions that give the "ouch" feeling are how people can learn to more skillfully serve each other.

It may seem kind of scary, but you can absolutely tell your wife "Hey wife, when you do X when I tell you about my day, I kind of feel deflated and like you are annoyed with me. Is that true?" This is a really great segway to a really nice conversation where both of you develop shared understanding. Either she can understand that her stiff responses are not what you need in that moment, or you can hear that her bumbling response isn't a reflection of her feelings for you. But you will never know unless you bring it up and have a conversation about it :)

You can also do the reverse and help coach her to also use these "I statements". Maybe the next time you decline sex, you could ask "Hey wife, do you feel frustrated or sad when I don't want to have sex?" and she can either agree, or give you clarification. By keeping things focused on how she is feeling in that moment, whether good or bad, you can come up with creative solutions that you are comfortable with to meet those needs. It is also an invitation to you to share your own feelings in the same situation, and maybe help your wife see why you are reacting the way you are. You can do this anytime you might notice a little frown or quietness or something feels off. "Hey wife, I noticed you seem a little frustrated. Is that true? Can you tell me about it?" "Hey wife, I see you smiling! Something good must have happened and I'd love to hear about it!" "The room feels a little tense/something feels "off" and it's making me feel a little unsettled. Is everything ok?"

These prompts might feel a little heavy-handed, but after a while you won't need them anymore as you both get into the habit of leading conversations with feelings.

Added bonus, these are really interesting conversations (and you come out of them feeling more connected and understanding of your partner), plus feelings never, ever run out! You can get a bunch of new ones every minute, so you always have new, unique scenarios to discuss. They can either be a long-running conversation where you are really exploring the situation from all angles and needing to get really good at creatively problem solving to get both of your needs met, or it can be a 1 or two sentence affair. In total, I'd say DH and I have a "feelings" conversation at least twice per day on average, and as we've cleared most of the big, sticky wickets, they are now more towards the short little "hey I liked that!" or "ouch, that didn't feel so good" phrase variety.

edit: also, feelings are much more engaging and interesting than a rote recitation of the events you experience. Perhaps instead of telling a story about your day, you could maybe talk about how you felt during those situations. That might be something more meaty that your wife can latch onto. She may not really know what to "do" with a "I met with Steve for lunch today". But something along the lines of "I felt so frustrated when Susie handed off her report 2 days late! Now I have to scramble and I'm worried about how this will reflect on me. I could really use a hug!" is something she could more easily engage with because it is a lot more obvious what you need/want in that moment. I hope that makes sense. Slightly tweaking your stories or conversations to add in the "feelings dimension" just gives you both that much more to talk about.
« Last Edit: December 13, 2018, 12:01:24 PM by Lady SA »

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3301
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #42 on: December 14, 2018, 07:50:58 AM »
Haha, we kinda  prefer going out to dinner with other people because when we sit across from the dinner table from each other we run out of things to talk about. Ha ha sorry but not sorry. Still –

Like a post above, we talk about our pets and make up stories about them and give them  fantasy motives and a lifestyle.

We are currently working on a big giant project so we are very busy running around Doing that. Also because our big giant project is in another town, we are gone from each other quite a bit so that makes things livelier and we always have to catch up each other on happenings while the other one was gone.

Occasionally I declare it “family time” Where I expect everyone to gather for 20 minutes to half an hour to talk to one another. That is me, DH, and the dog. Last night we had “family time “in front of the fireplace with DH drink eggnog I had a vodka and the dog had his stuffed  toy to suck on. In order to stimulate conversation we played a game called “name three facts.” I was doing something for the neighborhood during family time keeping my hands busy and it involved running across names of neighbors both current and many years ago, so our game of naming three facts was about each person in the neighborhood and DH came up with one really funny thing and some OK things.


I consider it  their job to make me laugh. DH is decent at it, and our dog is a comic genius. I am The social leader for the family and I determine mostly what we do socially although DH had A very active social life in this neighborhood that was separate from mine, but too many of his friends have moved away and so he doesn’t get out as much now.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2018, 07:58:01 AM by iris lily »

PoutineLover

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1171
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #43 on: December 14, 2018, 08:16:14 AM »
I don't understand this not having things to talk about issue. Admittedly my current relationship is only 3 years in, but there is no shortage of things to talk about. We discuss our hobbies (shared and not), our plans, vacations, families, work, finances, politics, news, social issues, thoughts, dreams, ideas, what's for dinner, feelings.. I can't see us ever running out of topics since almost everything we talk about is renewable and changing. We do also spend time doing our own thing near each other or watching a show together, but even that often leads to a conversation.

Bicycle_B

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1825
  • Mustachian-ish in Live Music Capital of the World
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #44 on: December 14, 2018, 08:52:33 AM »
Not married, so ignore my imaginative answers if they don’t suit you.

Tell her how much you love her! And how glad you are to be married to her.

Wait, maybe that’s not her love language. Look up the five Love Languages. Whatever hers are, do them as much as possible.

Obviously, anything you can do to be more responsive to her initiating is a good idea too. Perhaps including counseling for you? Would she appreciate it if she knew you are making a personal effort? Not to pry or discuss too much info in this post, but can you do things to respond to her initiating by doing more things focused on her, even if you’re not “feeling” it at first? Gotta move toward these bids somehow!!   :)

Anyway, good luck.

iris lily

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3301
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #45 on: December 14, 2018, 09:01:43 AM »
 Also I should mention that during our family time last night I learned an interesting fact – the Christmas socks that DH was wearing once belong to my father. My dad died in the year 1994, so the socks are nearly 25 years old. DH wears them every year and he’s been wearing them on many occasions so far this year but I didn’t realize they were my dad’s socks so that’s kind of cool.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2018, 08:36:27 PM by iris lily »

Poundwise

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1450
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #46 on: December 14, 2018, 07:42:55 PM »
Not DINKs either, but posting to follow!  Sometimes I'm tired of talking about kids, husband's job, interpersonal dynamics, or broken things in the household that need fixing.

His other hobby that makes me delirious is fishing...Had a boat that was totaled in an accident (other guy's fault) and we just bought a new one...I had to bite my tongue as they are expensive.  But he works hard and really loves to fish.  I promised him I will try to like it this time (I used to do yoga on boat, read, took a nap, etc..)  It does help that the kids love to fish, however, he is excited because he thinks I will love it once I actually catch one...we will see...this might be a fake it until I make it situation!   I do have decent luck so hopefully I catch a few right off the hop!  I really enjoy planning trips and doing the family financials - two things that he will just go along with whatever I want...I have to drag him into coversations about it!
@Margie if you like to save money you should love fishing, especially if your family eats fish. To me, pulling an edible fish out of the water is like winning a prize!

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5668
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #47 on: December 14, 2018, 09:33:48 PM »
When you retire things are different and you are not separate all day everyday which leads to less to talk about. We are both extroverts but still sometimes we are silent. We have our dogs, adult kids , friends, world events to talk about.  We enjoy having friends over and do a lot of social things to be around others.   Every life stage is different.   

Margie

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 47
  • Location: SW Ontario
Re: What do you talk about with your spouse? (DINKs)
« Reply #48 on: December 28, 2018, 04:24:26 PM »
@ poundwise...

we do eat the fish typically and never buy it at the grocery store so yes there's that!

 My kids will eat any kind of fish and if we are on holidays they will order the strangest fish so they can say they tried "xxx" fish.  It is a holiday tradition for sure.

totally OT sorry!