You can improve your marriage by talking about it

You can improve your marriage by talking about it

Oprah says you can improve your marriage without talking about it? I don’t think so!

My husband and I don’t do it every night, but we should. Sometimes when we do, it’s only for a minute or two, until one or both of us falls asleep. Other times, we do it for 15 or 20 minutes, sometimes even an hour.

Of course, I’m talking about our nightly talk—what did you think I was talking about?—the most important 15 minutes of our marriage.

The two of us are both stressed out, a lot. We both work full-time, and we have an infant daughter. We are barely two ships passing in the morning, and then at suppertime, we’re keeping our chattering baby entertained with crackers or a piece of bread, or we’re busy making faces at her while trying to get through our meal. I usually sneak off to work for an hour or so after dinner while he plays with the baby.

When we finally get to bed—earlier than I’d like to admit—we’re dead tired. Still, on most nights, when sleep doesn’t steal one or both of us away beforehand, we make it a point to lie in bed with the lights out and talk for a while. Usually it’s about our jobs, our families, our baby, or some project or idea we’re cooking up. And it doesn’t really matter what we talk about; the point is that when the baby’s asleep, the house is quiet and the dog is snoring comfortably on the floor next to the bed, we can finally exhale, listen to each other, and share the triumphs and challenges of our day. We both know what the other is worried about. We each know which family member has pissed the other off, and why. And we can report what cute thing our daughter did that day when one of us wasn’t present to witness it.

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Our nightly talk is a chance for us to be gentle with each other, to turn off the noise of our day and really connect. With our daughter sleeping in the next room, we speak in whispered tones, and that adds to the tranquility of the moment. Our nightly talk nurtures an intimacy between us that’s entirely too easy to lose sight of amidst deadlines and shopping lists and leaky roofs and dirty diapers. It reminds us of why we signed on to this great experiment called marriage.

So, I’d love to say that we do it every night—but I’d be lying. Still, we try to do it several nights a week, and we both sleep better when we do. I’m no couples counselor or expert on marriage. But I know how much a nightly talk sets both our minds at ease, and I do believe it’s an essential component of most happy relationships. After all, getting to know the person you’re sleeping next to is a lifelong process!