Improving your relationship can be as easy as simply taking time to actually review it. Most things you want to succeed, has either an annual, quarterly, monthly, or weekly review. Think about it. Your job’s overall goal is assessed in meetings annually with quarterly reviews of how the company is performing. If you are dieting, you review your weight monthly or even weekly by stepping on a scale and determining if you’ve gained or lost weight. You’ll see your primary doctor or dentist every 6 months or yearly just to review your health and ensure everything is ok. Even your car gets checked on with oil changes, tune-ups and tire rotations. While we can all agree these reviews are necessary, have you ever asked yourself if you’ve reviewed your relationship?
You might be thinking. Review my relationship? I think about my relationship all the time so I’m always reviewing it. Maybe you are. But have you really sat down with yourself and your partner to hear each other about how things are going? Have you been frustrated lately about certain behaviors your partner is doing that you just want to get off your chest? Has your partner been walking around the house with a bad attitude lately and you can’t seem to understand why? Maybe it’s time to review with each other what’s going on the past month of your relationship. It doesn’t have to be this big moment of time where a lot of drama happens. Instead, it can be a simple chat about how you both feel the relationship has been lately or significant things you’ve noticed that you want to share.
When a tire starts getting worn out, the mechanic may tell you, “Hey, you may want to keep an eye on this as it’s starting to wear down”. When your dentist gives your teeth a cleaning, he may tell you, “Hey, you had a lot of plaque build up this time, may want to consider flossing a bit more.” Can you use the same language with your partner? You can go to your partner and say, “I notice you’ve been distant the past 2 weeks. I just wanted to see if you are ok and we are ok. If something has happened, I’m unaware of it and would like some insight so we can work to improve our relationship.” Sounds simple, right? I’m sure you will find the best wording that works for you. The key is: understanding. That’s what you are looking for in effective communication. You talk to better understand your partner and for your partner to better understand you so you both can understand the relationship better.
So, how can you make sure that you are reviewing your relationship to keep it healthy?
Here are a couple of ideas to spark the conversation and engage in a discussion to review your relationship.
- Topics In A Jar/Hat.
Simple, you both place a number of discussion topics in the jar. Topics can be unlimited: Sex, Money, Children, Marriage, In-Laws, Siblings, Work, Schedules, Chores, Food, Cleaning, Date-Night and more. The topics should be written by both of you and should be about your concerns for the relationship. Then you both agree on 2-3 topics to cover. 2-3 is fair number because it doesn’t feel like you are talking about everything and maintains a focus of the conversation. Set a timer. I would say each topic can be up to 30 minutes and then switch topics. You can do an hour on one area, but make sure the discussion isn’t repeating itself or you will find yourselves circling. Once the topics are over, you close the jar and decide when you want to review your relationship again. Set a specific date!
- I love it when, I hate it when, I’d like you to…
The best way to effectively communicate is to identify pros, cons, and next steps. Here, each person is very honest about what they love, hate, and what they’d like to see different. You want to start off complimenting the other person to acknowledge that they do things well and you appreciate them for it. You then move to “I hate it when”. One of you talks about one thing (staying focused) that you really struggle to like about them. It’s tough and maybe hurtful so try to be as gentle with it as possible. Then you jump from what you don’t like to what you want to see improve or them to do better. Typically, this should come from your dislike but you can change it up if it you feel something is more beneficial to improve.
- In the past month, 3 months, or year…
This is another stem that creates dialogue. You pick a time frame that you feel you need to review together and discuss what’s been going on in the relationship as well as yourself in that time. The focus is the time frame of perhaps 3 months and you want to talk about what you have noticed in the past 3 months.
There are a number of ways to review your relationship. And they don’t always have to be problem discussions. Maybe you review your relationship to talk about the great things that have been going on in the past week or month. Maybe you want to praise each other for how consistent you both have been with communicating about finances or the kids. Whether it’s problems, solutions, good things or bad things, the focus is on effective and consistent communication by reviewing your relationship. So ask yourself: Is it time for me and my loved one to have a check-up?