An (even) better relationship starts with a good question: 4 questions for a healthy & strong partnership
A strong, healthy partnership doesn’t have to be taken for granted. In fact: considering your relationship to be a ‘given’ can actually put you and your partner at risk. Relationships, like gardens, need to be tended to in order to remain healthy.
What’s one way to help your relationship remain strong over time? Ask each other meaningful questions. By engaging in deep conversations and speaking honestly with one another, you’ll continually find places to ‘work on’ your relationship while experiencing deep gratitude for what you already have together.
In this blog, I share 4 questions that you and your partner can ask one another to keep your relationship healthy and strong. I recommend asking these questions on a regular basis - you’ll find your answers change over time as your partnership continues to evolve!
Want to keep the conversation going? Check out the Vertellis Relationship Edition - a Q&A card game designed to help couples strengthen their bond and create beautiful memories!
The days fly by
Between work, family, (possible) children, friends, the household, and keeping up with (social) media...you probably feel strapped for time. You try to perform well at work, do your best to arrange care and keep a tidy home, and maintain a social life. Maybe you go to the gym every now and then, engage in other hobbies, or immerse yourself in a healthy lifestyle.
On an (occasional) free evening, you plop on the couch with a glass of wine, some popcorn or chocolate, and a little Netflix - which, as we all know, usually turns into a Netflix binge. Your phone is probably within reach so you can immediately read and answer texts or scroll through social media.
Where is your partner in this story? He sits next to you on the couch or you text and call each other. Occasionally you do something fun together, often with friends or family. Your relationship may seem ‘fine’, but does this relationship really add anything? Is there enough depth? Or do you take each other for granted...?
Giving genuine attention to each other
Having a comfortable routine with your partner can be nice, but if you’re not careful, you’ll end up only talking about surface level, practical matters with one another. Consequently, it’s crucial to spend time together AWAY from screens and social media and talk about things that concern you and are important to you. Otherwise, it’s easy for you to grow apart unnoticed.
It starts with a good question!
My experience is that you can start valuable conversations in a fun, playful way. Ask your partner questions more often (and I don't mean the question about who will do the shopping this weekend 😉).
Now, perhaps you’re thinking: "We’re not the type of couple who has in-depth conversations with each other for hours." That’s completely fine! Everyone is different. Ask a playful question every now and then. It’s all about finding what feels good to you and your partner!
4 questions for a strong & healthy relationship
Below are four good questions that you can start with. Ask them during a walk, when you’re in the car together, at dinner, or right before bedtime. Sometimes the conversation comes naturally and sometimes you have to keep asking: "Oh, can tell me more?" One tip: put your phones on silent and set them to the side!
1) What’s an event that you think we learned a lot from?
2) What activity would you like to undertake together in the coming period?
3) If you didn’t have to take anyone into account, what would you do next month?
4) What habit would you like to improve with me in the coming period?
Question 1: What’s an event that you think we learned a lot from?
Let’s be real...a relationship that always runs smoothly does not exist. Disagreements or quarrels occur in every relationship. That’s just part of it! It’s how you RESPOND to conflict that’s different for everyone.
Perhaps you can view a disagreement as an opportunity: a chance to understand each other better and strengthen your bond. But in the heat of the moment, I know it can be challenging to look at it this way.
That’s why looking back on arguments - after you have both cooled off - can be beneficial. Don't avoid conversations like this, but ask yourself (and each other) questions, such as: What could you do differently next time? What do you expect from each other? What did you learn from this?
Question 2: What activity would you like to undertake together in the coming period (next week, month, season, year)?
When the butterflies in the stomach have disappeared and “normal” life with obligations and responsibilities takes over, the focus on our partner diminishes. We begin to live side-by-side instead of face-to-face, and the strong attraction and solidarity you felt for each other in the beginning start to fade.
But you can breathe new life into these feelings! Doing activities together - especially new things - can bring you close together again. This affects us on a hormonal level. Dopamine and oxytocin are two hormones that enhance the feeling of togetherness. Oxytocin is released when we hug or kiss our partner and during an orgasm. Dopamine is released (among other things) when you undertake a new challenging or fun activity together.
So have the conversation: what are ways you can bump up your oxytocin and dopamine together?
Question 3: If you didn’t have to take anyone into account, what would you do next month?
This may seem like a crazy question because you most likely DO have people around you that you’re accountable to. Yet, this is great to ask, because it makes you think outside the box and consider what you really want out of life. What are your deep-rooted wishes? One-in-a-million dreams? Furthermore, it’s important to know each other's dreams, wishes, and goals because they have a (un)conscious influence on your relationship.
What’s more, those dreams (with a little creativity) often turn out to be a lot more accessible than you thought. Sure, moving to a villa in the South of France next month may not be do-able right now, but often, many of us long for smaller, ‘everyday’ things.
A little while ago, we asked the Vertellis community this question and received many answers in the style of: “I would shower for ten minutes longer. I can’t do that with small kids” or “Read a book” or “Eat at the table together more often.”
By talking about these things, you’ll know what the other person thinks is important and can brainstorm ways to help fulfill your partner’s wishes. We tend to label things as 'impossible', but I challenge you to think in terms of possibilities!
Question 4: What habit would you like to improve with me in the coming period (next week, month, season, year)?
In a relationship, you build common habits and routines together. Consider, for example, the times when you usually get up, eat, and go to bed. Who does what around the house and what do you put on the table every day?
It’s good to think about this on a regular basis. Habits can creep in (both good and bad) and you may not be satisfied with all of them!
Become aware of your habits and express any dissatisfaction you have about them. Then see if you and your partner can change an old habit or start a new habit together! It’s much easier to change when you can encourage each other. For example, eating healthier becomes a lot more difficult when your partner picks up chips or chocolate for your movie night.
Did you find these questions fun and inspiring?
The fact that you read this article to the end probably means you want to start asking your partner more meaningful questions and engage in deeper conversations. Super! But...you know as well as I do that this newfound motivation can be quick to fade.
To solve this problem and to help you 'work' on your relationship in a fun and simple way, we (Bart, Lars & Liz) have molded these 'habits and secrets' into a powerful game for couples: the Vertellis Relationship Edition.
This question card game was created in collaboration with 150 professionals, including relationship psychologists and wedding officiants, and it serves one purpose: to ask each other meaningful questions.
Pour each other a glass of wine or a cup of tea, put away your phone, and turn your good relationship into a GREAT relationship!
Want to share your experience? Or do you have a great question you and your partner ask each other on a regular basis? Please share in the comments below or tag us with #myvertellismoment on Facebook and Instagram!
Liz lives together with her daughter, Yuna, in the beautiful Dutch city of Haarlem. As one of the co-founders of Vertellis, Liz started her Vertellis journey by creating handwritten questions on cards. Today, making new products is still what she loves to do most. For Liz, this means waking up and going to bed with ideas and immersing herself within the creation process. In addition to product creation, Liz manages an all-female finance team that provides a stable backbone for the growing company. Liz energizes by spending time with Yuna and seeing the world through her daughter’s eyes, taking necessary time alone and offline, and long, long conversations with her friends that cover all aspects of life.