Getting closer – a shortcut
Dr. Arthur Aron, of the Interpersonal Relationships Lab at Stony Brook University, has done some interesting work on “interpersonal closeness”, including romantic love. In 1997 he created the “sharing game” which was designed to cause strangers to form a close bond, or even a romantic connection, in just an hour together. This was accomplished with a set of 36 questions each group of strangers was to go through, one at a time, with each person answering each question. The results of Aron’s study, as well as a number of follow ups, shows the questions, and others like them, do result in a great deal of intimacy very quickly.
If you and your bride do not have as much emotional intimacy as you would like, maybe these same questions would help you? Take an hour to do all of them, or do five a day for a week. Take it seriously, and give the best, fullest, most honest answers you can. My suggestion is you don’t read the questions and come up with answers ahead of time – do them as you come to them. There are no “gotcha” questions here – especially since this was designed for strangers.
I’ve listed the questions below. A few of them were a bit odd for a married couple, so I’ve made a few minor changes (in italics) and added one question.
- Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
- Would you like to be famous? In what way?
- Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
- What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
- When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
- 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?
- Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
- Name three things you and your spouse have in common that most people don’t know.
- For what in your life do you feel most grateful? (Excluding your spouse.)
- If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
- Take four minutes and tell your spouse your life story in as much detail as possible.
- If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
- If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
- Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
- What is the greatest accomplishment of your life? (Outside of your marriage.)
- What do you value most in a friendship?
- What is your most treasured memory? (Outside of your marriage.)
- What is your most treasured memory from your marriage?
- What is your most terrible memory? (Outside of your marriage.)
- If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
- What does friendship mean to you?
- What roles do love and affection play in your life?
- Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your spouse. Share a total of five items.
- How close and warm is your family of origin? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
- How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
- Make three true “we” statements each. For instance “We are both in this room feeling…”
- Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone other than you with whom I could share…”
- If you were going to become a closer with your spouse, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
- Tell your spouse what you like about them; be very honest this time saying things that you may never or rarely have said.
- Share with your spouse an embarrassing moment in your life that does not involve them.
- When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
- Tell your spouse something that you like about them you think they may not know.
- What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
- If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone other than your spouse? Why haven’t you told them yet?
- 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?
- Of all the people in your family, whose death, other than your spouse, would you find most disturbing? Why?
- 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.
And a bonus suggested by a reader: How do you think you have changed in the last X years? (X being how long you have been married.)