How Well Do You Know Your Spouse? Here’s How You Can Find Out!

By Patricia Oelze

Updated May 19, 2020

Reviewer Carnell Colebrook-Claude , MA, NCC, BC-TMH, LPC (Clinical Track), LPCC, LCPC, LIMHP, LSOTP

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How well do you know your spouse? You've probably heard before that no matter how long you know a person, you can never really decipher everything about them. You may have been married recently or for many years but every day you will continue to learn something new about your significant other. People grow and people change, which is why many couples end up separating or divorced after a few years of being together because they are not willing to get to know their spouse on a deeper level. While married one can get so bogged down with life, work, finances and/or children where your spouses can end up becoming more like a roommate instead of your partner, lover, and friend.

Being aware of your spouse's changing personality, likes, dislikes, interests, desires, needs, etc. is a good way to adapt as a couple throughout the years. By accepting that we don't know everything about our spouse and instead be willing to become more attentive and open to learning more about each other will ignite the spark that is needed to grow together. The beautiful thing about love is that it is ever-changing, it is never the same, it grows and adapts once you make and take the time to nurture it.

How Well Do You Know Your Spouse? Here's How You Can Find Out!

  1. Answer Questions About Each Other As a Couple

A simple Google search for 'questions for couples' brings up 121,000,000 results like, "20 Questions All Couples In A Strong Relationship Should Be Able To Answer" from Buzzfeed. Although these types of quizzes are fun and can produce much-needed laughter between husbands and wives, intimately knowing your partner is essential to building and maintaining a strong marital foundation. Marriage requires effort and communication so if you don't ask, then your spouse won't tell you what is going on in their heart. According to Killian (2018), the following 20- item quiz shines a light on some features of what John Gottman describes as your "love map." Each question requires an individual response of yes or no. They are as follows:

  1. "Can you name two or more of your partner's grandparents?
  2. Do you know the stresses your partner's facing now?
  3. Do you know what your partner's favorite movie or musical recording is?
  4. Do you know your partner's favorite dessert?
  5. Do you know three places your partner would love to visit?
  6. Can you list the relatives your partner cannot stand?
  7. Can you name all your partner's best friends?
  8. Do you know precisely how and where your partner likes to be touched?
  9. Do you know what your partner likes best about her/his work job?
  10. Do you know your partner's least favorite task around the house?
  11. Do you know what food your partner does not like or cannot eat?
  12. Do you know how many times (in a perfect world) s/he would like to have sex per week?
  13. Do you know the people (or politicians) who have been irritating your partner recently?
  14. Can you describe your partner's philosophy of life (how s/he makes sense of this world)?
  15. Do you know what your partner wanted to grow up to be when s/he was a child?
  16. Do you know what your partner is most proud of?
  17. Do you know what your partner is most insecure about?
  18. Do you know what scent or smell your partner likes most?
  19. Do you know which superpower your partner wish that s/he had?
  20. Can you talk in detail about your partner's dreams or life goals?

Killian (2018), states that if you answer yes to 16 or more questions, you know your partner "extremely well". If you answered yes to 11-15 questions you know your partner "moderately well." If you answered yes to 6-10 questions, there is "some room for improvement." Finally, if you answered yes to 5 or fewer questions then you must "think of your partner as a research project."

Researchers such as, John Gottman, has studied for over forty years with thousands of couples regarding what factors predict relationship success and failure, state that the marriages that survive do so because of a strong marital friendship. Seems very simple, but, according to Gothman (2017), the quality of a married couple's friendship is what makes for a thriving and lasting partnership. So, answering these kinds of questions about your spouse, and potentially having them do the same about you, can help you find out how well you know each other. At the same time, it also gives the two of you an opportunity to jumpstart learning more about one another which can eventually build into a quality relationship needed to sustain a successful marriage.

  1. Talk to Other People That They Are Close To

You don't necessarily want to do this without your partner's knowledge or consent, but talking to a mom, dad, brother, sister, or best friend can be a good way to gauge how well you know your significant other.

These people have known your spouse for most, if not all their lives, through all their different phases in life and will provide wise, neutral and objective information. Asking questions and talking to people who know your spouse well can reveal a lot about how well you know him or her.

  1. Try Doing Thoughtful Things for them on a Regular Basis

One big way that a spouse can gauge how well they know their partner is to do thoughtful things for them on a regular basis. According to Gottman (2017), kindness is the most significant predictor of contentment and stability in marriage. Further, researchers Dew and Wilcox (2013), found that generosity- together with small acts of kindness and demonstrations of respect and affection was positively linked to marital satisfaction. Showing your partner kindness and generosity goes a long way in a relationship. Dr. Maya Angelou once said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel."

In an article by Erin Leyba LCSW, Ph.D. entitled, "20 Ways to Surprise Your Partner," she advises that one way to make kindness flourish in your relationship is to surprise your partner for absolutely no reason whatsoever. It will show your partner how much you care and recommends the following thoughtful things that you can do that will leave your partner feeling incredible.

  1. "Meet your partner at their train stop, bus stop, or in the driveway after work with a fun airport-pickup type sign.
  2. Record a sweet message for your partner (such as on Voice Memo on the iPhone).
  3. If you're away for work or with friends, send your partner a postcard (even if it will get there long after your home) or buy them a less-than-a-dollar funny souvenir trinket.
  4. Get your partner's car washed or wash it yourself.
  5. Do a chore for your partner that is typically "their chore" (like cleaning the hamster cage, matching the socks, or taking out the garbage).
  6. Make your partner breakfast in bed. Add a love letter.
  7. Send your partner a message through a non-usual means, such as through mail sent to a hotel they will be staying at, in the mail to your house disguised as a bill, on Facebook Messenger, or written on the bathroom mirror with washable crayons.
  8. Draw a bubble bath for your partner with an already-made cup of coffee and a fresh folded towel for when they wake up.
  9. Put a special note in your partner's wallet, car, gym bag, purse, work bag, diaper bag, or breakfast cereal.
  10. Get up with a child (or a few) and sneak into the basement or out of the house to the park so your partner can sleep in.
  11. Set up a haircut, pedicure, massage, tee-time or other self-care type appointment for your partner.
  12. Take your kids on an outing (such as the park or the zoo) to give your partner some time to themselves.
  13. Bring home flowers, your partner's favorite ice cream, or your partner's favorite takeout food for no reason.
  14. Think about what your partner really enjoys, whether it's grilling out, playing soccer, going to the hardware store, or watching spy movies. Choose a personalized surprise that "fits" or "feeds" your partner's great passions.
  15. Pack a picnic of your regular dinner with a blanket and a candle and food your partner would love; eat outside together.
  16. Book a babysitter and surprise your partner with a bike ride, batting cages, a basketball game, or a trip.
  17. Make an art project for your partner with your kids. Mail it to their workplace.
  18. Think of something meaningful from "the old days" that you used to do together and make a surprise out of it. If you loved going out for Mexican breakfast, take your partner out for huevos rancheros. If you used to love seeing baseball games together, buy some tickets.
  19. Show up at your partner's work to have lunch or dinner together.
  20. Do something that your partner loves doing but you typically hate (like going berry picking, watching an animated film, or canning tomatoes).

These acts of kindness compel you to think about and envision what would make your spouse happy, keep your romance alive and encourage you to learn more about each other in order to plan your next impromptu surprise.


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  1. Speak with a Counsellor

If your relationship is going through a rough patch and you are questioning how well you know each other, you might want to consider going to couple's therapy or speaking with a counselor. Relationships can be extremely challenging and there is no shame in asking for help.

A counselor can see patterns and problems in relationships that you might be blind to. BetterHelp is an affordable and secure online option that matches you with licensed mental health and marriage professionals that you can message any time, with optional video and/or phone sessions. Online couples' therapy can help you understand presenting problems, resolve differences, and teach both of you the necessary skills to improve your communication needed to strengthen your friendship and entire relationship.

  1. Spend Time Doing New Things Together

Spending time together is a great way to find out how well you know someone, and your spouse is no exception. People change over time and the best way for you to change with them is to be with them.

How Well Do I Really Know My Spouse?
Ask A Board-Certified Relationship Counselor Online Today.

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Changing up your routine and doing new things together allows you to explore and learn new things about the world and each other as a couple. Sometimes separation is healthy and needed in relationships, but if you and your spouse are meant to be together, you will need time together to mend the broken pieces.

Conclusion

Whether you are in a healthy or rocky relationship with your spouse, you might come to ask yourself how well you know them. If you feel like the two of you are drifting apart, try out some of these tips mentioned above to start assessing how bad it is.

Hopefully, this post will be a wakeup call for your marriage and inspire you to learn more about your partner and possibly push for a new level in your relationship - or you may realize that you may not be right together, nonetheless, counseling sites such as BetterHelp, should be considered whenever you begin to think that your spouse is not right for you and you find yourself deciding to give up and call it quits.

References

Dew, J., & Bradford Wilcox, W. (2013). Generosity and the maintenance of marital quality. Journal of marriage and family, 75(5), 1218-1228. Retrieved from: https://generosityresearch.nd.edu/assets/119703/gen_and_marriage_equality.pdf

Gottman, J. (2017). The relationship cure: A 5 step guide to strengthening your marriage, family, and friendships. New York: Harmony.

Killian, K., (2018). 20 Questions: How Well Do You Know Your Partner? Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/intersections/201809/20-questions-how-well-do-you-know-your-partner

Leyba., E. (2015) 20 Ways to Surprise Your Partner. Retrieved from: Psychology Today; https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/joyful-parenting/201512/20-ways-surprise-your-partner


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