I always thought the measure of a successful marriage was being married forever but still chatting up a storm over dinner. Then I married an introvert who without fail says, “Good,” whenever I ask how his day went. Instead of forcing a conversation that doesn’t want to happen, we use these three conversation substitutes.
Color the same picture together. This happened accidentally, but we left our adult coloring books and pencils scattered on the table. After a low-conversation dinner, Erich said, “Let’s color” — and we did. We planned out our color scheme and spent a good hour working the same picture together. We still keep our coloring books out on the table for some unplanned, post-dinner together-time.
Watch a show together. Erich and I are watching Avatar: The Last Air Bender together over meal times. I’m obnoxiously vocal during TV shows, poking Erich’s ribs when a character reminds me of him or pausing the show to make some comment, so it’s not like we’re vegging out in silence. Plus, I think laughing together — like actual, side-splitting laughing — is the best sort of “conversation.”
Sit in silence. It took me a while to stop using that happy elderly couple chatting away over dinner as the standard for my relationship’s success. When Erich and I sit in silence, we’re still attuned to each other. It’s still a form of togetherness. We haven’t failed marriage; we’re just being ourselves — and that’s okay. Silence is great too. If you don’t have anything to say, why say anything?
What does conversation look like at your dinner table? Would you try any of these three alternatives?