Curiosity in Marriage

Curiosity and friendship fuel the flame of romance.

There is a saying that goes, “Curiosity killed the cat,” but curiosity can be very powerful when it comes to your marriage.

If you look back to when you were dating, before you got engaged to your spouse, you will probably remember when you wanted to be with them all the time. You were curious about what made them tick. You were curious about what made them happy, what brought joy, their favorite food, dessert, music, thoughts on spiritual matters, and more. You were curious, and that curiosity drove you to conversations, adventures, and investments in your relationship.

For many couples, the longer we are together, the less curious about each other we tend to be. We don’t become this way on purpose, but the gravity of our busy lives seems to pull us away from each other and take each other for granted. If we aren’t careful, we find ourselves living as roommates and not husband and wife, which is not what we plan on the day we say our “I do’s.”  We drag on from day to day, which turns into year to year, and before long, we don’t really know the person we committed to spend the rest of our lives with. The same person we used to long to see and spend time with as often as we could. Now, I’m not saying that couples won’t go through difficult seasons where they struggle, but when a seasonal struggle turns into a normal routine of life, then it's time to make some adjustments.

Curiosity is a great thing in marriage. Curiosity fuels conversations. It helps us to learn more. It leads us to try new things. It reminds us of what we love about our spouse. So get curious! I don’t know if you realize this, but odds are, the person you married has changed, and so have you. My wife, Darla, and I learned a motto from several therapists: “Small things often.”  It’s not necessarily the big romantic weekends or trips that keep a couple connected. Those are great, but the daily conversations, daily connections, and daily small gestures of appreciation keep the friendship growing and increase the intimacy and “oneness” of marriage. I love this quote from the book “7 Principles of Successful Marriages” by John and Julie Gottman, “The fundamental truth is that happy marriages are based on strong friendships. This means that they exhibit mutual respect and enjoy each other’s company. They tend to know each other well and express their fondness through small gestures in the daily routine of living together. They are mindful of what their partner likes and wants and try to provide it. In small but meaningful ways, they look out for each other.

Friendship fuels the flame of romance and protects against developing an adversarial position toward each other. Good friends give each other the benefit of the doubt, and they cut each other some slack. They don’t exaggerate or dwell on each other’s faults but accept them in the context of all the good things they provide. In contrast, when relationships deteriorate, irritation builds, resentment accumulates, distance follows, and they end up in a state of “negative sentiment override” where almost everything is interpreted negatively and even neutral comments are perceived as an attack.

So get curious! Guys, learn how to ask open-ended questions. Ladies, do the same. Guys, if your wife starts asking you about the engine that you are working on and seems curious about how it works or why you use a particular fishing lure or the brand of golf ball, you buy all the time, don't take that as just an extra chore to explain to her. Receive it as a wife who loves her husband and is curious about who he is, what he is doing, and what makes him tick. Ladies, if your man starts to ask about what you and your girlfriends talked about at lunch or about how your day went, receive it. If he asks what your favorite coffee is or asks where that dish goes in the cabinet, don’t fall into the comeback of “you should know this,” but receive it as a husband who loves his wife and is curious enough to ask so he can serve her. An “I want to know more” approach can help you move from roommate mode to fulfilling marriage mode. Give it a try!

Need some help with open-ended questions? Here are a few that are great for February. They come from

  1. What is something you think is memorable from our first date?  
  2. Of my physical attributes, what is your favorite?  
  3. Of my personality qualities, what is your favorite?  
  4. What is a physical attribute you love about yourself?  
  5. What is a personality quality you love about yourself?  
  6. Can you name a time when you felt most loved?  
  7. What is your favorite love song?  
  8. What are three things you love about our marriage?  
  9. What is one of our most romantic or funniest Valentine’s Day memories?   
  10. What is an outlandish date you would like us to do?
  11. What is your favorite Valentine’s Day we have celebrated together?  
  12. What is your favorite romantic movie?  
  13. What is the most romantic thing I have ever done for you?  
  14. What is your favorite Bible verse about love?  
  15. What is your favorite way to receive affection?  
  16. What is one thing you appreciate about me as a wife or mom?  
  17. What is one thing you appreciate about me as a husband or dad?  
  18. What is one thing you love about being married?  
  19. What is your favorite candy or flower to receive? 

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