Greg and I went out for Valentine’s Day last Friday. He took care of the child care, made reservations at our favorite restaurant, and I planned the entertainment (much to his initial chagrin). I had read an article recently about a study done by psychologist, Arthur Aron. The study had identified a series of 36 questions that were said to accelerate relationships – basically, 36 questions to make you fall in love. Now, Greg and I are already in love, but I thought it might be fun to go through the questions anyway. I floated the idea out to Greg that it might be fun and to his credit he agreed to give it a whirl. (He made a lovely face that spoke volumes, but agreed to try it out.)

We got to the restaurant and ordered our food, but it was apparent that my entertainment plans were being thwarted. The restaurant had seated us in a small area that had no separation between the tables, and no music piped in to the room. So, basically, every word we would say would be heard by the other couple sitting at the table right next to us. They seemed like a lovely couple, but if these questions worked there was a risk that everyone would start falling in love with everyone else – chaos may very well ensue!

Just to make matters more awkward a third couple was soon seated on the other side of us and they very much needed the questions because they were fighting. So here we three couples sat, side by side, awkward, tense, and, in one case, arguing. Happy Valentine’s Day! To our awesome waiter’s credit he acknowledged the awkward situation and helped get us moved to a better table with a bit more privacy. Yay! We were ready for the questions.

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Despite some initial misgivings (on the part of one of us), I will tell you that it was one of the best evenings we have had in quite some time. It is easy to fall into communication habits and patterns after you’ve been married for some time. Greg and I will celebrate nine years of marriage this summer. He is, undoubtedly, my very best friend. None the less – we don’t find a lot of time to sit and talk about life. With young kids, jobs, and a never-ending list of obligations, our conversation seems to resolve mostly around schedules, meal plans, and discipline strategies. And even if left to our own devices with the best intention of having deep conversation – we would have been hard pressed to come up with topics. Often I think you can start to feel like you know the other person too well, and you begin to believe there is nothing new to learn.

As we went through the questions, some took a short amount of time to answer and some took a bit longer. We found a few stirred up conversation rabbit trails that we went down and strayed far from the original question. So far we have only made it through the first 20 – and in theory you can complete the entire set in 45 minutes, so we definitely found a lot to say. I learned a few new things about Greg and rediscovered some things I had forgotten. We both were able to share some things that we thought we knew about the other, only to find out we answered differently than expected.

At the end of the evening we both agreed that it had been a really great exercise. It was illuminating not only because of the answers, but because it shined a light on an area of our relationship that we had lost without even noticing. We had a very quick courtship and part of those intense eleven weeks between meeting and marrying (yes, I said eleven weeks) was a lot of talking. A lot! Emails, phone calls, face to face conversations – we covered years worth of ground in just a few weeks time. I had forgotten how refreshing his perspective is on things and how much we enjoyed one another’s company even when we had no shared agenda.

So much of married family life is an intricate dance in the minutiae of life. In that daily dance you find yourself staring at your feet, your partners feet, and the feet of the littles you have created to insure that everyone is doing their part and hitting their marks. This Valentine’s Day was a chance to lift our heads up and see the grand ballroom and here the music and remember that this dance is more than the steps. This dance is our epic love story, and Greg is more than a best friend that keeps our family going – he is my funny, insightful, quirky, amazing Prince Charming.

Can these 36 questions make strangers fall in love? I don’t know. But I do know that they are a great way to remind you of the love you are already in.

Go ahead – try it!

THE 36 QUESTIONS TO FALL IN LOVE
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 dreamt 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.

End by staring into your partner’s eyes for four minutes without speaking (or laughing, Greg!).

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