I sit at the dining room table, one arm draped casually over the back of my chair, my phone in my other hand. I read from the screen.

“What is your favorite memory of dating me?”

My boyfriend Charles stands behind the kitchen counter, rinsing dishes and putting them in the dishwasher. (Yes, he is that magical.) He tilts his head and ponders, a smile playing on his lips as he reviews the past almost-four years of our relationship, searching for the perfect answer.

A few moments earlier, I had asked, out of the blue, if he wanted to ask and answer date night questions together. I can’t remember now what put the idea in my head. (This was several months ago.) But we had both been crazy busy at work lately (me trying to kick out Mailboat IV), and we hadn’t had time for any road trips or dinners out or even our weekend hikes or… anything.

Here was something we could do together that would take just a few minutes and very little energy. (We were woefully short on both.)

Unfortunately, I have the memory of a goldfish, and can’ t remember what Charles answered to the question of his favorite memory dating me. (Like a dog, I live in the moment—yes, usually wagging my tail.) I seem to recall his answer was something sweet and surprising.

My favorite memory of dating Charles might be the first time he kissed me, on the side of a mountain overlooking the Bitterroot Valley, the pines frosted in the first snow of the year. (Yes, once again, we really are that magical.)

Date night questions have now become a part of our regular routine. Waiting for a game to load? Let’s ask a date night question. Driving or hiking together? Let’s ask a date night question. Too tired to do anything else? Let’s ask a date night question. Turns out, it doesn’t actually have to be date night to ask date night questions.

We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve gotten to know each other better. Charles and I have always been good at communication, but actively asking and answering questions keeps that communication open. We know we’ll always answer each other honestly and unhurtfully. We each want the other to be the best version of him- or herself.

But of course, being authors, far be it from us to do things the normal way. We had to make it even better.

The other night, we were waiting in line at the drive-through at Wendy’s. Due to the staffing shortages here and everywhere, the line was really long and really slow. “Do you want to go somewhere else?” Charles asked.

“No!” I said, “Let’s ask date night questions.” I pulled out my phone.

Charles smiled. “Okay. But do you want to try something different?”

“What?” I asked.

“Let’s answer for our characters this time.”

My eyes lit up. That sounded awesome.

We each chose a current project and posed the questions to our characters—often with hilarious results. Charles is writing something in a sci-fi universe with several alien races, many of whom don’t experience romantic relationships the way humans do. I chose to apply the questions to my secret side project, which features SIX main characters. It took freaking forever to get past just one question.

But we discovered that exploring our fictional worlds together is another thing we really enjoy. For us, it’s another way of exploring each other’s minds. We’ve helped each other flesh out the characters and the storylines and more often than not, we’ve laughed uproariously while doing it. We’re never happier than when we’re lost in the world of fun and imagination.

If you’ve never tried date night questions with your partner, I highly recommend it. I don’t think it matters how long or short you’ve been together. You’ll either learn something new, or remember the importance of something old. If you and your partner are a little rusty talking to each other, practice a little patience and be intentional about the art of vulnerability. The point is never to hurt one another, but to become completely comfortable around each other.

Here’s a set of 100 date night questions Charles and I have been enjoying: A List of 100 Questions to Ask Your Partner on Date Nights

And if those aren’t enough, here is a card deck featuring 598 date night questions: Conversation Cards for Couples

I hope you have as much fun as Charles and me!

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