We do them for our jobs. We do them onlilne for restaurants and hotels and products we have purchased. But somehow the notion of giving a periodic report card to our spouse hasn’t caught on yet . But that is changing. More and more folks are taking time, on a regular basis, to review and take note of how their marriages are performing. Getting into this habit is an excellent way not only to improve the over all level of marital satisfaction you feel but, more importantly, to identify relationship problems before they get out of hand and become difficult to resolve.
Under the best circumstance, the idea of doing regular marraige asssesments needs to begin in pre-marriage counseling where the basic elements of what makes a relationship work are identified, e.g. Communications/assertiveness, cooperation/consideration, conflict and problem solving, anger and stress management, equitable distribution of responsibilities and labor, banknig and money management and romance and sex. These specific elelments can be written down and become part of a marital “contract” to which each partner commits his or her self.
Even if a couple doesn’t start out with a contract of specifics to be evaluated, it is never too late to create one. Sometimes having a session or two with a marriage therapist can provide just the right help get partners on started on the right track.
It needs to be understood that no one starts out knowing how to be married. It is also important to know that there are specific skills to be learned and that, with time and practice, couples can learn to get better and better at it. The notion of growing and getting better at being married goes hand-in-hand with periodic evaluations and discussing marital report cards. These efforts can provide important feedback and information regarding what is working well and what needs special attention.
From another point of view, we know that to maintain good health, regular check-ups with our doctor are a good idea. Medical problems are eaasier to treat when they are caught early. Likewise, problems in relationships can be easier to fix if they are discovered before they have become too complicated or resentments have grown too deep.
If the purpose of a relationship review is mutually understood to enhance and protect the marriage, it is less likely to be offensive or feel like harsh criticism to either partner. The language used in providing the feedback must be loving and respectful. Performance updates are not intended to be opportunities or attack or name call.
Although it may sound scary, I hope you and your partner will consider developing this habit. You’ll be glad you did.