8 Conversations Every Couple Should Have

Maintaining a healthy, long-lasting relationship requires strong communication and continued conversations about the key areas of life. Sometimes those conversations can be tricky when partners have differing perspectives.

Renowned relationship researcher John Gottman has spent decades studying what makes couples succeed or fail. Based on his findings, Gottman recommends that all couples make time to have 8 key conversations to help strengthen their emotional attunement, improve their conflict resolution skills, and create a solid foundation for a fulfilling partnership. 

Here are the 8 conversations every couple should have:

1. What are your dreams for the future? 

This conversation is all about getting on the same page when it comes to your long-term goals and vision for your life together. What do you each hope to accomplish, experience, or work towards in the coming years and decades? Maybe you dream of buying a home, starting a family, traveling the world, or launching a business venture. Or perhaps your goals are more personal, like learning a new skill or getting in the best shape of your life. The key is to openly share these dreams and then discuss how you can work together to make them a reality.

2. How do we maintain our intimacy and romance?

Physical and emotional intimacy are essential components of a fulfilling romantic relationship. But over time, it’s easy for the spark to fade if you don’t consciously tend to it. In this conversation, talk about what makes you both feel loved, appreciated, and desired. Discuss your preferences when it comes to physical affection, date nights, trying new things in the bedroom, and making time for just the two of you. Come up with a plan to regularly check in on each other’s intimacy needs and desires.

3. How do we manage our finances responsibly?

Money is one of the top sources of conflict in relationships. Having an open, honest dialogue about budgeting, debt, saving, spending habits, and financial goals can help you get on the same page and avoid tension down the line. Discuss big financial decisions together, create a system for managing bills and accounts, and talk about your individual money mindsets and values. Setting up healthy financial rituals can go a long way.

4. How do we navigate major life transitions?

From starting a new job to having a baby to caring for aging parents, big life changes can put a lot of strain on a relationship. Proactively discuss how you’ll support each other through these transitions, and make a plan for how to communicate, divide responsibilities, and maintain your emotional intimacy. Being prepared can help you weather the storms of change.

5. How do we cope with stress and challenges?

Every couple faces their fair share of difficulties, whether it’s a health crisis, the loss of a loved one, or just the everyday stresses of modern life. Have an open conversation about how each of you tends to respond to stress and adversity. What are your coping mechanisms? How do you like to be supported? Establishing a plan for how to support each other through hard times can make you a stronger team.

6. How do we resolve our conflicts in a healthy way?

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship, but how you handle it makes all the difference. Discuss your typical conflict patterns – do you tend to withdraw, get defensive, or blow up? Make a plan for how you’ll engage in constructive arguments, take breaks when needed, and reach resolutions. Learning conflict resolution skills together can deepen your trust and intimacy.

7. How do we maintain our individual identities?

While a committed relationship requires compromise and collaboration, it’s also crucial that each partner maintains a strong sense of self. Talk about the activities, hobbies, and friendships that are important to each of you as individuals. Agree on boundaries and ways to support each other’s autonomy and personal growth.

8. How can we grow together spiritually or philosophically?

Whether you share religious beliefs, philosophical worldviews, or just a general sense of spirituality, it’s valuable to discuss this aspect of your lives together. Explore your core values, beliefs about the meaning of life, and views on topics like death, morality, and the divine. You don’t have to be in total agreement, but understanding each other’s perspectives can foster deeper intimacy.

Having these conversations – and revisiting them regularly as your relationship evolves – can help you and your partner build a strong, lasting bond. The key is to approach each conversation with openness, empathy, and a genuine desire to understand each other better. With practice, these dialogues can become a healthy ritual that sustains your love for years to come.

If you and your partner are struggling with communication and conflict, Gottman-trained couples counsellors, such as those at Momentum Counselling, can help facilitate these conversations in a safe and effective manner.