Where you are.
Where you want to go.
When working with people in couples counseling, I always encourage them to do what I call: State of the unions – little meetings to sit down and find out how things are going between them in several areas. A relationship evaluation.
The founding father’s of the United States were very wise when the constitutionally mandated the President to come to Congress once a year and give a State of the Union – a report, if you will, on how things were going. It’s important that couples do the same thing. It’s a chance to “check in” and take the temperature of things.
When I worked on Wall Street – I always hated to go into any meeting without an agenda. To do so, was a really good way to get blind-sided. I like being prepared – so I always told people, if you want to meet with me, tell me what it is about and I can get ready to answer your questions and address your concerns. So below is a little template to follow for your check in.
Relationship Evaluation – How to take your temperature.
First – you need to agree that you are going to do this and set a regular schedule to do so. I recommend doing this monthly, and generally it helps to do it at the first of the month, allowing you to review the past month and set goals for the coming 30 days.
Second – arrange things so that you can be focused. No TV in the background. Kids are occupied or sleeping or not around. No cell phones. Have your calendar and information in front of you.
Third – send each other an agenda of what things your want to discuss a few days before the meeting. Treat this as formally as you can – it’s serious business.
Suggested areas to address:
Start out by looking at how things have been since your last sit down. (Hopefully no more than 30 days ago.) What went well? What things were you able to accomplish? When did you have fun? Talk about the wins! Then move on to areas that somehow didn’t get finished. Didn’t get around to painting the garage? Had to miss a date night? How could we have done better? Always look toward solution vs. blame and shame.
Going forward: How do you want the next month to go? Break it down.
How are the two of you going to have fun this month? Plan an event together. What movies are coming out? When can you go to dinner? Would you like to have friends over for a game night? Scheduling can be your friend. Put it in writing and set a date and time. If it doesn’t get scheduled, it is probably not going to happen.
What needs to be done? Does the garden need to be planted? Do the taxes need to be filed? Next month, where do you want to be able to say: “Wow, that feels so good to be finished!”
This can be a tough one but it’s important to talk about. How are the bills? How much are we putting in savings? How can we cut back? Are we on budget? What financial goals do we have and what is the progress on this? Where can we splurge?
This goes with the review too. But this is a time where the two of you can talk about what you appreciated in the other recently. Example:
“I really like how you took care of me when I was sick.”
“I see all the hard work you did on keeping the lawn mowed and I’m grateful I didn’t have to do it. It’ looks great.”
This is a great time to check in and see how each other is feeling about the other. Are you feeling close? Do you need more communication? Do you need more physical intimacy? Are you angry our hurt about something? Talk it out – bring your partner “on board” and really try to understand where they are coming from too.
My experience says that if you don’t schedule a time to connect, months will go by without really knowing how things are going. Life is too busy and you have to schedule time to connect and check in. Being in a relationship is like being on a team and this process allows everybody to be on the same page!