Do you and your husband get home from a long day at work, do the “hey, how are you?…fine…okay, cool…” and turn back to your phone or TV or current task? Is that usually the extent of your conversation because you are too tired or distracted to go with a further answer than “fine”?
I am a firm believer that even after you get married you need to date your spouse and continue learning about their likes, interests and needs. Those things aren’t always communicated in an obvious way. So you have to make the time you do have together more of a “get to know you”, a “how can I be encouraging you”, or “dream together” time.
Oftentimes dinner is the only time you are in the same place at the same time and have time to sit down together. Although this may seem burdensome, there are so many physical and mental health benefits to family mealtime and dinner conversations.
The Benefits of Family Mealtime
So you might be wondering why is it so important to eat dinner as a family?
According to a Harvard Study, regular family dinners are associated with lower rates of depression, and anxiety, and substance abuse, and eating disorders, and tobacco use, and early teenage pregnancy, and higher rates of resilience and higher self esteem.
5 Tips for Better Dinner Conversations
We have lost the intimacy of conversation and spending time together as a family. I see so many families at restaurants not even talking to each other because they are on their phones. Maybe they prefer texting or tweeting each other?
We need to embrace the idea of family meal times and have better dinner conversations. Here are five tips to help you intentionally communicate with your family at dinner.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
I don’t know about you but I have gotten plenty of “how was your day?”…”fine” interactions. Not a very interesting conversation starter. Family dinners are supposed to be great bonding times.
If you want to get a better response, you have to ask open-ended questions. Instead of asking “how was work today?” Ask something like, “what was something interesting that happened at work?” Or “what was a challenge you faced at work today?” You might still get a nothing but at least it opens up room for you conversation to expand.
Do a Devotional Together
You can create more intentional dinner conversations by pausing and doing a devotional together. God and His Word need to be at the center of your relationship. Spend at least a few times a week getting into the Word together and talking about God. Take time to notice how God is working in your life and answering your prayers. You can go closer as a family while growing close to God. Here are some great marriage and family devotionals ideas:
- 15 Exciting Devotionals for Couples to do Together
- Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
- 12 Biblical Truths to Shape a Family by Ruth Chou Simons & Troy Simons
- Top Family Devotional Books
- The NIV Once-a-Day at the Table Family Devotional
Share the Good and the Bad at Dinner
Family mealtime should be a time to have a meaningful conversation. For the good, I love that my niece started this thing at family dinners where we do highlights. She does some song and dance and popcorns around the table to ask what your favorite part of the day was. It is both adorable and a great dinner conversation starter.
I have also seen it done by asking the peaches and pits from the day – what is one good thing that happened and what is one bad thing. Not everyone is going to have a great day. You should allow space for the other person to share about what happened during their day including the messy, frustrating and worrisome parts. This might open up the conversation even more to ask follow up questions and help problem solve as a family.
Practice Active Listening
Remember it is good to reaffirm your spouse by practicing active listening. Conversations go best when we show love by truly engaging in what the other person is saying. Let the other person answer fully before you respond. Put away the distractions (ahem! your phones) in another room and get to talking and active listening!
Dinner Conversation Starter Examples
Here are some examples of dinner conversation starters that can use to spark the conversation. I typed up/wrote out the dinner conversation prompts, cut them out, and put them into a mason jar. Not fancy at all.
Now at dinner we switch off pulling out a dinner conversation starter and are intentional about conversing with each other in a more meaningful way.
Focus on Your Marriage
What is something specific I did last week that made you feel loved, honored and/or respected? If you didn’t feel this way, explain why not.
What progress have we made towards the goals we set for this year? What things remain for us to achieve them?
Are you satisfied with the way we share responsibilities? Why or why not?
Are you satisfied with the frequency and quality of our physical intimacy?
What is your favorite outfit of mine that I wear?
What has been a high point of our relationship this year? What has been a low point?
What is different in our relationship that you are glad is different? What is the same in our relationship that you are glad is the same?
In what characteristic or attribute would you like to see me grow? Explain why.
What can I be doing more of? And what can I be doing less of?
What is one thing we can do to make our relationship stronger?
Put Your Spouse First
What is something specific this week that I can do to help you feel loved, honored and/or respected?
Is there anything I do (or fail to do) that seems to indicate lack of wholehearted commitment to our marriage?
Does it seem that there is anything keeping one or both us from God’s best in our lives? What can I do alleviate whatever is holding us back?
Biggest challenge you have overcome this week, month or year?
What does your day look like tomorrow? Or this week?
When was a time you felt deeply connected to me?
How can I pray for you?
Learn Something New
What’s your favorite band right now?
What’s your favorite meal?
What are you passionate about?
If you could do anything, what would your ideal kind of work be?
Is there a talent or skill you would like to learn this year?
Where do you want to go on vacation next?
If we could live anywhere in the world, where would you want to live?
Where do you want to be a year from today?
What is your hope for our family in the next five years?
What is something fun you would like to do together?
I hope you take the time to slow down and spend family mealtimes together. What tips do you have for great dinner conversation starters?