There are two ways to talk to your partner.
The first kind of conversation transports you and your partner to new dimensions of connection and love. In these conversations, you reveal the full truth of your experience, your little victories, your hopes and dreams, and even the things that scare you. You open up to each other, and your connection grows.
Then there's the second, more ordinary, way that we talk to each other in relationships. In these conversations, you and your partner become like news anchors reporting on the latest events.
“It sure is cold outside, isn’t it?” you say. “I was back-to-back with meetings at work all day,” says your partner. “The line at Costco was insane,” you report.
We call these conversations "talking about the weather," not because we're always talking about humidity levels and temperature but because we seem to get stuck reporting on external events (things like the weather outside).
Of course, there’s a place for talking about the weather. But when things get busy and life gets insane, this habit of reporting on external events can start to consume our conversations with one another. When all we do is report on the weather of life, we stop talking about the inner experiences that fuel love and connection.
How can you shift out of always talking about weather?
The most insidious thing about this conversational trap is that we get stuck talking about the weather, without even knowing it's happening.
The antidote is awareness. When you talk to your partner this evening, catch yourself reporting on external events. Make a mental note like, “Here I go talking about the weather again."
Now shift from reporting on the external to also reporting on the internal. You can do this by prompting yourself with a simple phrase, “And that makes me feel…."
This small shift arises when you go beyond just saying “I was back-to-back with meetings all day" and add, “I feel like this pace isn't sustainable. I’m starting to wonder if I'm burning out. And that scares me.”
The shift is subtle but has the power to take your conversation to a whole new level.
You can also invite your partner to make this shift with you by changing the kinds of questions you ask them.
When they report on a particularly frustrating moment, you can ask, “How do you feel about all that?"
Or when you're walking around the neighborhood in the evening you can ask, “What’s really going on with you?" And if they report the weather, ask an “inner world” follow-up question like, “What are you making that mean?"
You can also ritualize this shift in conversation by turning it into a daily habit. One of our favorite ways to do this is a meal-time check-in that we stole from one of our daughter's kindergarten class.
Rose, bud, thorn. At the beginning of the meal, each person in the family reports on these three.
We like to start with the thorn, the moment in your day when you felt the most down or frustrated or scared.
We then report on our roses from the day, those moments when we felt most alive, in a state of flow, or happy.
And then we report on our bud, the thing we're most looking forward to in the coming days or weeks.
By turning a ritual like this into a regular habit, you create a daily interruption in the cycle of getting stuck in conversations about events, news, office drama, and, yes, the weather.