We all check in with our finances, our health, but do we regularly evaluate our marriage?
Dr. Liz Hale shares the annual performance review for your marriage.
Marriage: Review and Renew
There is a common practice from the working world most employed people are already familiar with: the Annual Performance Review. An employee receives feedback from a supervisor about how well he or she is doing in the organization. A good review provides the opportunity to discuss strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for improvement.
I came across a blog written by a 30-year divorce attorney and mediator, Sam Marguiles, who suggested that couples should take a page out of the book of the working world and have Annual Marital Performance Reviews. Here’s a professional with a unique inside scoop into marital breakdowns who also has some fascinating insight on how divorce can be prevented. Here are a few of the review questions this divorce mediator suggests individuals answer with a scale of 1-5:
The Annual Marital Performance Review
-I have given you the physical affection that you need.
-I have listened when you told me something important to you.
-I have consulted with you regarding major purchases.
-When we disagreed I remained respectful of you.
-You felt comfortable raising difficult issues with me.
-I have spent as much time with you as you needed.
Click here for the full Marriage Performance Review.
I was fascinated at what he wrote and even though this list is incomplete it teaches us a great deal about what issues become difficult to recover from if left unaddressed. And that is the key: couples often wait too long to reach out for help. Sometimes the damage is irreversible. An annual review could perhaps cut divorce off at the pass.
The higher the state of general discontent and the more issues over which a couple do not agree, the more that marriage is in trouble. The premise is that the earlier an issue surfaces and is talked about the greater the chance of the marriage improving and lasting. Sometimes that means an emergency trip to the marriage therapist. Seek help early on. You and your marriage are worth it!
The Center for Couples and Family Research at Clark University likens a marital review to a six-month dental checkup. Their research showed that couples who assessed their relationship during two sessions with a marital therapist saw more significant improvements in their marriage than those who didn’t. The benefits included an increase in satisfaction, intimacy, and feelings of acceptance by their partner as well as a decrease in depressive symptoms.
Clark University along with the Wall Street Journal published the following review for their readers.
The Wall Street Journal Marriage Performance Review
-What positive praise do you have for your marriage?
-Identify one thing in marriage you would like to improve?
-List how you’ll meet that objective and measure success.
-Rate the strengths in your marriage on a scale of 1-5.
-Rate the concerns in your marriage on a scale of 1-5.
That’s actually the whole point. These checkups keep your finger on the relationship pulse. Waiting until the little things build up over time is all too often what leads to serious problems that could result in a breakdown and breakup.
The State of the Union Meeting
Dr. Gottman’s research revealed that spending just one hour every week discussing areas of concern within the relationship has shown to transform the way partners manage conflict.
This dedicated space and time allows couples the freedom to express their fears and concerns in a way that makes them feel heard and loved instead of neglected.
-Review what has gone well since the last meeting.
-Share 5 appreciations you haven’t yet expressed.
-Take turns discussing new issues that arose. (speaker/listener)
-Move to problem-solving.
-Process regrettable incidents. (This is by far the most important point!)
At the end of the conversation each partner needs to ask and answer, “What can I do to make you feel loved this week?”
On a Scale of 1-10…
His advice? Check-in with your mate every week with the simple question:
On a scale of 1-10, how am I (how are we) doing? Why? Because he says if he doesn’t he’ll be the last guy to know. “My mother-in-law, housecleaner, best friend and even the lady at the nail salon will know the answer before me!”
Nothing improves from neglect. When we illuminate the problem, we can do something about it. Now!