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If you and your partner can make the four questions you’re about to read a regular habit, you’ll make your life more deliberate, you’ll make your love more passionate, and you’ll become more of a team, standing side-by-side.

The reason Deborah and I progressed so quickly, and have stayed strong this whole time, is because we talk intimately about everything. We ask questions, and we check in on our relationship on a consistent basis. The two of us grew to be intentional with the questions each asked the other. We realized that if we’re not moving forward, we just might be moving backwards.

Most couples do this at the beginning of their relationship (or running up to the wedding), but your relationship needs constant tuning throughout its entire lifetime.

This tuning should happen as frequently as you think is necessary. Some couples should do it daily, while others every 2, 3 days, or maybe once per week. It has everything to do with the pace and intensity of your relationship.

Deborah and I try our best to answer these (or most of them) daily, and while there’s no magic formula, I’d encourage people in long term committed relationships to go through them at least once every 2 days.

Approach the questions on a consistent basis, but don’t let them, or the practice, cause friction. If your partner doesn’t have time to answer, ask him politely, “when is a good time for you?” Coming up with a time together will make it feel like this is more of a joint venture, or like something you both want to do.

Have we connected today (or this week)?

Have we done something to bring us emotionally and/or physically closer together? This can be as big as a surprise trip to Paris, or as small as a journal entry or a walk in the park. An emotional connection is important for any relationship, and the more time you go without it, the more distant you’ll feel with your partner.

How can we connect tomorrow (or next week)?

This is as obvious as the first one, but planning for the coming day or days will make it more likely to actually happen. Some couples are too busy for that connection to happen naturally, making planning an activity necessary.

What are you grateful for?

Have you ever heard that faking a smile actually makes you more happy? It does, and expressing gratitude, even if you’re not actually feeling grateful, helps to identify things in your life you take for granted. Gratitude for the things your partner does also makes her feel better about herself, and gives her the permission to be even better. No thing or action is too small for you to express your gratitude!

What will you do tomorrow (this week) to get closer to our vision?

Now, the word vision is very abstract. It can mean anything you want it to, and you can replace it with something like “goal” if you want, but you and your partner should have something that you’re working toward together. This can be something like a business, a side project, or it can be something like raising the kids, losing weight, or anything you want it to be. The important part is having a goal and keeping each other accountable, because that brings people together. Being equally invested in success or failure, in the chase of something greater, creates a bond that you won’t have with many other people.

What else is important in our relationship?

Deborah and I have both realized that our family and our community are extremely important to us, yet they’re two things we often neglect. Asking this question is your opportunity to think back about the things you find important to your relationship. Then make plans to be better! Do you want more time with your family? Plan a family gathering. Do you want to integrate yourself better into the community? Create concrete plans to hunt for volunteer opportunities and allow your significant other to hold you accountable.

A “simple” set of four questions can be over- or underwhelming, depending on who you ask and how you go about it, but the important thing is that these are practical. You won’t know exactly how they affect you until you start asking. Most won’t try, because people typically don’t “work on their relationship” until there’s a problem.

However, it’s important to be intentional, to draw closer to your partner, all the time. Problems or none, you’ll both be more fulfilled, more focused, and feel more loved if you can answer and fulfill these questions. Focus on the positives, and you’ll move further, faster, in love and in life.

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