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Sheri & Bob Stritof

You Need More Than Small Talk

By March 12, 2014

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When the two of you talk, what do you talk about? Are your conversations always about your kids, the house, or your jobs? From a practical perspective, you do need to talk about your kids and day-to-day issues and to have "Happy Talk", but you need more in your discussions with each other.

Roni Caryn Rabin of the New York Times reported that a small study from the University of Arizona discovered that substantive conversations about the meaning of life and the state of the world could make you happier.

Dr. Matthias Mehl: "By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world," Dr. Mehl said. "And interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness ... Can we make people happier by asking them, for the next five days, to have one extra substantive conversation every day?"
Source: Roni Caryn Rabin. "Talk Deeply, Be Happy?" NYTimes.com. 3/17/2010.
March 25, 2010 at 11:36 am
(1) Darlene, North Central Florida says:

My husband and I are political and religious opposites. He doesn’t “discuss” very well in objective terms, and quickly becomes angry and defensive. After nearly 60 yrs. of marriage, I’ve finally surrendered to superficial conversations. I recommend that engaged couples clarify their political and religious perspective prior to marriage, even it means that they agree to disagree in civil terms.

February 5, 2011 at 6:03 pm
(2) jhon Doe says:

My wife and i are in the same situation as Darlene. We have been married for 17 years and my wife just can’t think beyond the simplistic canned answers that she hears at church. Her world view is very narrow and lacks any critical thinking. I have tried time and time again to engage her in substantive conversation and always end up mad because of her inability to think for herself, choosing instead to spout off some moronic simplistic answer to very complex issues. The thing is that I once was the same way and only after going back to college for a number of years and learning to think critically did I break out of the shackles of religious dogma and shallow thinking. My wife does have a Master’s Degree in nutrition but has never been able to think critically especially when it comes to religion, politics, and social issues. I used to say that she was my best friend but how can I possibly say that now? We can talk about our daughter, finances, sex and other issues that normally trip up most couples but matters that are abstract or require serious critical thinking skills, well forget it. To make it even harder i have become a lot more liberal while she is simple minded as Sara Palin. If a person really wants to know the truth they have to be open to new ideas and they have to be objective. I reserve the right to be wrong if I am presented with compelling information however my wife is simply not willing to even seriously consider new information unless it were to come out of the preacher’s mouth. No matter what objective information I might try to present to her she is simply unwilling to hear it and gets very defensive. I give up. Like Darlene I will do my best to stick to just the mundane necessary conversations that facilitate a functioning household. Unfortunately I have come to the conclusion that I will have look elsewhere for someone to talk to but this makes it even harder for me to connect with my wife in other areas.

March 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm
(3) Goldy55 says:

Aside from my husband’s Passive Aggressive abuse, we never discussed anything more than day to day issues. He simply doesn’t discuss anything other than his job! I, on the other hand, read & keep up with current events. After 33 yrs., this cold, lonely marriage simply didn’t work for me anymore. Some people just don’t get it. We get older, we get wiser, but we simply don’t stay the same. I was sad to have done it, but I couldn’t stand it anymore & divorced him 2-1/2 yrs. ago!

March 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm
(4) Grace says:

Wow, jhon Doe,

Did it at all occur to you that maybe your wife is simply “spouting” what she chooses to believe in- the beliefs of the religion that she’s in- so of course she would tend to “spout” statements similar to what her preacher also makes? Your way of describing her is mean-spirited (and,ironically closed-minded), so I can’t see how “critically” you are able to think, from your own wording, alone. Maybe she thinks your college profs are now causing you to “spout” their ideas, and that they brainwashed you, just as you imply you think the same as her.

Also, an intelligent person (Ann Landers) once said this (under an article titled “Tips for Life”): “Open your mind to change, but don’t let new ideas dilute your principles.” It means (or so it seems, to me, it means) that it’s OK you consider or entertain new ideas- or to try to understand the beliefs of others- but you should still behave with morals and with the core of what/who you are. At least your spouting wife is still herself, and (I assume) has morals; and is probably still trying to be a good person for you. Do you still treat her in a way that still values her, or that shows her that you can agree to disagree? Or are these new ideas/beliefs you have causing you to disrespect her, treat her bad, and cause you to consider violating your marriage? How, then, are these new beliefs in any way superior to hers? They sound like they may allow you the excuses you’d like to have to be unfaithful, or assume superiority. If so, you would do her a favor by leaving, probably.

I feel sorry for you, and for your family. I also hope that your daughters don’t pick up on your close-mindedness of who she is (again, the exact person you chose to marry), and marry abusive men who treat them like the are not as intelligent or wise as then.

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