Nine Questions for Lasting Love

Tinder for Talkers

A famous psychological study developed 36 questions to fast-track intimacy and connection. Ha! That’s easy. A glass of cheap merlot and low lighting can do that for most people. But lasting love? Well, that requires a whole different set of questions.

And to help with that, from the vantage point of a middle-aged many-years married, I’ve prepared a list of nine queries young lovers should consider before saying their “I do’s.”

First, about that original study: Conducted in the late 1990s at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, it was designed to foster “a practical methodology … for creating closeness in an experimental context.”

Male-female couples, strangers, completed a series of “self-disclosure and relationship-building tasks” over a 90-minute period while alone together in a “comfortable room.”

Step into the Comfortable Room!

Now before your mind races ahead to some inappropriate “self-disclosing, relationship-building” tasks complete strangers might perform in a “comfortable” room,” let me make this clear: the couples were asked to complete three sets of questions, each 12 questions long, of an increasingly personal nature.

“Task Slips for Closeness-Generating Procedure” – i.e. the first set of questions – included such relatively innocuous inquiries as:

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?

If the answers to both those questions weren’t “Jeffrey Dahmer” and “You know … like Jeffrey Dahmer,” then you and your still-stranger-in-Paradise advanced to the second, more self-revealing set of questions which included:

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?

Round Three: Let’s Get Really Personal!

If Jeffrey Dahmer’s name still hasn’t come up and the vibe is good (and mutual), then onward potential young lovers, you’re ready for the final 12 zingers including:

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.
32. 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?

As you can see from this sampling of questions, this is no “Hey, babe, what’s your sign?” kind of chit-chat. By the end of this “truth-and-regret-a-thon,” you can well understand why a couple would feel close to one another. They have shared secrets few of us wish to share with anyone – even the person staring at you in the mirror each morning!

In my distant youth, I was never one for the bar pick-up scene. Now, in middle-age, I shudder at the thought of Tinder, hook-ups and meet-ups and any other sort of web-based “ups!”

Pre-planning for the Long Matrimonial Haul

Yet, as a former news reporter – and general busybody – I do believe in the power of a good Q & A session for getting to the heart of matter including matters of the heart.

So, based on my extensive years of field research as a middle-aged muddler, here’s my starter set of questions designed to help young couples of all sexual orientations and gender identifications develop the kind of long-lasting loving marriage Handsome Hubby and I (mostly) enjoy!

Nine Questions for Lasting Love

  1. Will you faithfully – without gripe or malice – take out the garbage henceforth in sickness and in health, in sunshine and in rain, snow, sleet, and hail?
  2. Will you faithfully – without gulp, grimace or blink – forever swear that this dress/sweater/swimsuit/romper does not make me look fat?
  3. Will you faithfully – without snort, wisecrack or retort – listen when I complain about my parents?
  4. Will you faithfully – without one “if, and or but” – side with me against all grievances (real or perceived) instigated by your parents?
  5. Will you faithfully – without fail – unfurl your sweaty, stinky socks before tossing them into the laundry?
  6. Will you – without curse nor complaint – assemble Ikea furniture even if multiple pieces are missing and the instructions are more confounding than those that accompany the ones you get when you bring a baby home from the hospital? (Wait. They don’t provide instruction manuals with newborns?)
  7. Will you faithfully – even if you don’t care one way or the other – promise to hang the new roll of toilet paper so that that it unrolls from the side closest to the wall, not (shudders) closest to your thigh?
  8. Do you agree that it is totally unnecessary and insane to arrive at an airport three hours before departure time?
  9. And, not to be forgotten, are the all-important three-in-one marital deal breakers: will you faithfully – without excuse or a whimper – always, replace the cap on the toothpaste tube, squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube up to the top AND will you ALWAYS put the toilet seat down?

And There’s More

Disclaimer: Young lovers, please consider these as preliminary queries before a possible trip down the aisle (or to Ikea). Please add your own questions. No consideration or concern is too small. After all, you are contemplating spending the rest of your life with this person! What appears to be “cute and quirky” today may in the course of 20, 30, 40 or more years turn out to be”annoying and weird” and finally “maddening and OMG, I’m going to kill him/her/myself.”

I know a man who was driven mad by his wife’s habit of blotting her ruby red lipstick and throwing the tissue in the toilet. Each time he went to pee, there was that lippy tissue smiling up at him. He claimed it caused a urinary blockage. His doctor-prescribed cure? Divorce!

Muddling through Middle-Age Readers Fess Up!

I asked Muddling through Middle Age readers what habits their mates have that drive them wild and I got some great answers. One Middle-age Muddler lamented broadly about her husband’s “morning routines.” Another lambasted her man’s habit of “shaking his ice in his glass like nails on a chalkboard! He swirls it around constantly” A third complained about her spouse’s habit of “gulping his drink and serial sneezing – 6 times in a row!”

And in a moment of profound self-realization, one Middle-age Muddler confessed, “I think I’m probably the annoying one. LOL.”

A Comfortable Room … in a Lighthouse!

Meanwhile, reviewing that list of 36 relationship-building questions, I realized there are still a few things I don’t know about Handsome Hubby.

We’re heading out this weekend for a romantic getaway at an honest-to-goodness lighthouse in the San Francisco Bay. I think I’ll bring along a copy of the questions. If you don’t hear from me again, you’ll know at least one of HH’s answers was, “Jeffrey Dahmer!”

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2 replies
  1. marymooney
    marymooney says:

    This is one of your best. Just love it. Sometimes when I’m rushing out the door to get to my water aerobic class in the early morning, I see my geezer sitting there with toast crumbs on his lips and his face in the newspaper and want to just head out. Then I realize our ages and take the time to peck him goodbye, toast and all. I’d add, never leave the house without some affection or at least a shout out to your spouse. You just never know. Thanks for this. You have me thinking today. . .and that’s rare!

    Reply
    • Karen
      Karen says:

      What kind words about my story and more importantly about your own hubby! Thank you for sharing these thoughts. We all need to remember this! Have a great exercise class. (Your second inspirational message!)

      Reply

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