Relationship Expert

Elinor Harvey answers some key questions on relationships

What are good new conversations questions we can ask to learn something new and be more inquisitive with our other halves. 

There are so many! My favourite ones to ask are:

What are you most proud of in your life so far?

What do you feel most worried about at the moment?

How would you describe your childhood to someone who didn't know your family?

What parts of yourself or your personality do you try to keep hidden?

What do you want our life to be like in 3 years?

What adventures would you like to have before you die?


What games can we play to invite more fun and more touch?

The Three Minute Game is brilliant. 

Writing words or drawing pictures using your fingers on the other person's back for them to guess.

Hugging to Relax- holding each other in a hug for 60 seconds until you feel your bodies relax together.

Massage can be very helpful, allowing your partner access to parts of your body that you feel comfortable and focusing on the sensations of the massage without any pressure to be sexual.

How can we notice the positive about our other halves more

By putting our focus and attention onto their good points! We all have an inbuilt tendency towards confirmation bias which means we seek information (eg. my partner has been late back from work twice this week)which confirms our beliefs, (eg. my partner doesn't care about me). If we force ourselves to notice positive things (eg. my partner has been home on time for all the other days and has been apologetic and loving towards me), then we can change our beliefs about our partner (eg. my partner does care about my feelings), which in turn will allow us to see more positive aspects. It becomes a positive confirmation bias and feedback loop.


What can we do at the start of each day to build connection? 

A hug in bed can make all the difference- just reaching out to the other person to share a moment of togetherness, if only to say good morning and how did you sleep. The ritual of making the other person a hot drink can be very meaningful, and wishing the other person a good day and that you will be looking forward to seeing them later can really help. 

What can we do at the end of the day to end feeling connected? 

Giving each other space to wind down after work is key-sometimes we ae just not ready to 'connect' instantly. When you are ready to talk, leaving your phones to one side and actually giving the other person your attention and eye contact is essential. It can also help to offer kind words, saying you missed them, that you've been thinking about them, or offering compassion for what they've gone through that day. 

What are three mistakes couples make?

The main ones I see are: 

Getting stuck into cycles of criticism/defensiveness.

Not expressing enough affection or appreciation.

Putting energy and focus into family life but not prioritising time as a couple.

What are 3 different ways to improve how we communicate?

Using "I language" can be really helpful. Rather than saying "you never listen to me", you might say "I feel sad when it seems that you're not listening". It doesn't sound like an attack and prevents defensiveness

Choosing a good time to talk, rather than trying to discuss a difficult topic in the heat of the moment.

Echoing and reflecting back what your partner is saying, rather than responding immediately. This shows that you're listening to them and taking time to understand them.

How can we change our language? 

Trying to avoid using language which is critical or inflammatory can be vital. If we say something negative towards our partner, of course they are going to become defensive and criticise you back. Focus instead on expressing your feelings rather than making personal comments about your partner. 

Any quick ways to work on our own confidence or that of our spouse?

Sometimes we need to re programme our mindset and beliefs in order to change the way we feel. If we feel unconfident, we usually are holding beliefs which are self critical and negative towards ourselves. Instead we can tell ourselves instead "I am strong and beautiful. My body can do amazing things" and over time we can start to internalise these as new beliefs, replacing the old critical beliefs.  

As humans are relational creatures, part of our self-esteem is built up in how others treat us, so treating your partner with kindness, love and respect will help them to feel that way towards themselves too.

Should sex be spontaneous or scheduled?

It can be both! Spontaneous sex is great if you have spontaneous desire and notice that 'turned on' feeling in your body and in new relationships it's often easier to have spontaneous sex. However many people in longer term relationships don't have much spontaneous desire so scheduling sex can be useful to allow your responsive desire to happen instead. Responsive desire needs a good sexy context in order to kick in, so if you have scheduled sex in you can find ways of anticipating that in a positive way: having a shower first, sending each other some playful texts, mentally visualising something erotic, not being too late to bed, or whatever helps get you into the mood. Good luck!