As we approach the end of the year, many of us will take time to reflect on different areas in our lives. There is nothing magical about the turn of the calendar page. Yet if the flip from December to January causes us to think about what’s really important, I’m all for this little bit of common grace.

Some of us will put together new exercise goals. Some of us will find the right Bible reading plan for next year. Some of us will zero in on a new schedule for Bible memorization. All of these are important (especially the last two). Let me suggest one other plan for the end of the year: check in on your marriage.

As a pastor, I’ve seen too many marriages flounder (or fall apart) over the years. The church usually is good about rallying around a couple for sympathy, counsel, and comfort in the midst of marital trials. What we may not be as good at is helping each other before the problems become acute. We need a place for marital triage in the church, but we also need regular check-ups.

Here are 15 questions to help you and your spouse take the relational temperature of your marriage:

1. How often do we laugh together?

2. When is last time we had a meaningful conversation about something other than our schedules or the kids?

3. Do we ever turn on music and sing and dance and act silly?

4. How many times in the last month have we prayed together or read the Bible together?

5. Do we ever hold hands?

6. Has our physical intimacy grown cold, infrequent, or a source of too much pressure and stress?

7. When is the last time we said “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you”?

8. When is the last time we said “Thank you” for regular, ordinary task like making dinner, doing the dishes, paying the bills, fixing the car, or folding the laundry?

9. When is the last time we (cheerfully!) said, “How can I help you this week” (and meant it)?

10. When is the last time we surprised each other with a gift, a note, or a night out?

11. Have we raised our voices at one another in the last month?

12. Are we more eager to spend time with someone at work, at church, or at the gym than we are with each other?

13. When we have time together at home, just the two of us, is the television always on in the background?

14. Are there hurts or sins or fears that we need to disclose to one another?

15. How might the love of God the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit shape our life together in this season of marriage?

Not a perfect list of questions, certainly not an exhaustive list. But perhaps it’s a start. God’s grace flows best in marriage when we are talking together.