Many breakups could be avoided by taking the simple step of sitting down, together as a couple, to do a regular review rather than waiting until problems overwhelm. Marriage and all relationships are a complex mix of shifting needs and desires and functions against a backdrop of each person’s history and the ongoing demands of everyday living. Success and continuity relies on the acknowledgement of a mutual benefit, but more often energy is spent focusing on the cracks, bickering over irritants and forgetting the deeper attractions that brought the two together. Mindfulness for relationships.
Since the commitment in marriage ” till death do us part” has largely been replaced with “until the love dies”, a happy vibrant relationship has become the single biggest security that a couple have. This is why it is more important than ever that proactive you are proactive in protecting the relationship long before problems fester.
The approach I advise is to frequently step back from the everyday detail and to look at the relationship in it’s entirety, like a project, something that needs to be checked for issues, successes and challenges.
It’s not unromantic! In fact, it enhances the love and the commitment and builds it up.
Rather than letting the relationship drift forward, in some blind hope that it will stay on course, a regular review means that each person must screen their own minds for positives in the relationship. The focus on the positives is to consolidate what is working well, to notice it and appreciate the behaviors that are really good and to say them out loud, to each other.
“I feel we are getting on better since we do ….
“ I love when you get home early on Wednesdays and we do ….
“ Since we had that argument about ….. I feel you have been trying to help me with this and I really appreciate it….
Instead of hoping for some vague, unspecified plateau of happiness and contentment, a check names what is going well and focuses on acknowledging each other’s efforts.
At each review one area that needs attention can be brought up, for discussion and action. The area of difficulty must be viewed through the lens of solutions, not blame or fault.
“ I think we need to work on ….
“ I’m not so happy with our social life, here’s what I think we can do..
Even the language has a workplace pragmatism to it that seems strange at first, but it gets couples away from the blame game and indeed the silence and gives air to those deeper needs that can slip out of focus. It lets couples practice the language of appreciation and it keeps the attraction points in view.
In this way it is less likely that someone will feel unappreciated, unloved, taken for granted or over-burdened.
Marriages often die in a silence where nothing is said, much is presumed and assumed and little is changed, until the door seems like the only option or until the mind wanders to others who will value them and make them feel appreciated again. Feeling that one’s efforts are being taken for granted can bring break points in any relationship if the issue is not addressed and makes it vulnerable to affairs. One or the other begins to see that opportunities for happiness lie everywhere, except within the marriage. Someone feels they are doing most and someone else that they are getting nothing back.
A regular relationship check is a constant reminder of why a couple is together. There are so many stressful times when this goes out of view. Speaking the language of mutual appreciation helps each one not to forget the good parts, what brought you together and why it is worthwhile sorting the ongoing concerns or challenges.
Prepare for it ! Set the time aside. Morning or afternoon, when you can be undisturbed. yes it’s worth a babysitter.
Frequency? Definitely twice per year. Four times if there are ongoing problems.
How are we doing together?
What is working well for us?
How is it for you individually within the relationship?
Are you content?
Do you feel stressed?
Are you carrying a worry that I don’t know about?
What is making you happy?
What could be better?
What needs attention?
What are the steps we could try to make things better?
When will we review our progress?
The approach -The approach needs to be pragmatic, pen in hand,solution focused, with no blame, fault or flaw finding.
The process -First each party states at least five positives, elaborating them to each other. Talking about the good stuff in detail can lift the mood and set a good terrain for the next phase.
Then each parties “one issue” that they believe needs attention gets discussed.
The focus then moves to identifying better ways, identifying solutions, opening out suggestions, agreeing what can be tried out in order to improve that issue.
The check should be done like a work meeting.Time limited,focused, respectful.