By: Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D.
"If you could have one superpower, what would it be?" I asked my husband, Jeff, on Friday. We were on our way to see The Avengers with our twelve-year-old son, Jake.
"I would have mind-reading power," Jeff said.
"I'd be Superman," said Jake. "Then I could have them all."
"I said just one superpower," I quibbled. "But I'd stop time."
Then, for the next ten minutes, my 12-year-old and I argued about whether you could count Superman's powers as only one power and whether being able to stop time would make you invincible. But I digress.
When I was dating, I wished I had those mind-reading powers Jeff was talking about. What was really going on behind the polite, glassy-eyed smile across the restaurant table? Is he bored? Is he preoccupied with work? Is he on drugs? were all questions I found myself asking.
We may not be able to read minds, but Maria Coder has brought us the next best thing: a systematic procedure for vetting our dates. Her book, called InvestiDate: How to Investigate Your Date, has all kinds of interesting tips to help you identify liars, cheaters, and con artists in the dating world and avoid physical danger, financial ruin, and emotional harm.
One thing that particularly caught my eye in this witty book was a list of 36 questions that can help us develop emotional intimacy with our partners. Written by Arthur Aron and colleagues, the list was derived from their 1997 study in interpersonal closeness.
Below are my top ten favorite questions:
1. What would constitute a "perfect" day for you?
2. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
3. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?
4. If a crystal ball would tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
5. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
6. What is your most embarrassing moment?
7. Your house, containing everything you own, catches on fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
8. What is your most terrible memory?
9. What is your most treasured memory?
10. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
This list, frequently referred to as "The Sharing Game," can give us insight into our partners' inner psyches. If we like what we see, this multilayered communication allows us to reach new levels of intimacy quickly.
So while I may not have mind-reading powers, I can use these questions to understand Jeff a little better and refresh our emotional connection.
But I'm still hoping to stop time.
About the Author: Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D. Is About the Author: a faculty associate at Arizona State Universityand a relationship expert at Cupid's Pulse.com. She is the author or coauthor of several books, including Hope After Divorce and Full Bloom: Cultivating Success, and the publisher of Sourced Media Books. She is married with five children and has a blended family that gives her plenty to write about!