Recently a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Bernstein, brought up some very important points about relationship check ups and reviews. Some analogies were made that strongly support the idea that a regular review of our relationships can do much to prevent the pitfalls that lead to broken communication and the demise of many marriages.
For instance, we schedule dental checkups to prevent irreversible problems such as loss of teeth and health. Aren’t our relationships just as important to us? When we say “til death do we part” don’t we want to mean it? If we really mean it, we must also be committed to what is necessary to maintain the health of these relationships.
We often let problems fester when it would be so much easier if we brought our thoughts out into the open. When we push down feelings and thoughts they tend to expand into much more stubborn issues. Sometimes it takes just a few words to clear up or prevent misunderstandings. When we share our concerns with our partner or spouse it develops an intimacy and a trust – especially when approached with a kind, rather than an attacking attitude.
Prevention is Key To Successful Relationship and Marriage Counseling
Many times when couples go for counseling they have reached a point where communication is strained and difficult. However, much can be done to prevent the relationship from getting to this point. There is no need to wait until the relationship is broken to start trying to fix it. Remember the old adage – “a stitch in time saves nine.” The rewards can be great if the effort is made to set aside specific time on a regular basis for the couple to check in with each other, examine how the relationship is going and see if needs are being met. Thus they catch problems before they grow while at the same time nurturing the foundation of their marriage.
Relationship reviews are not opportunities to nag, complain, stress out, blame, criticize, be insensitive, inconsistent or preachy. Rather, these reviews aim to engage in a helpful conversation that is supportive, attentive, problem solving and loving. They are a time to empathize, de-stress, comfort, reassure and strengthen the bonds that unite the couple. As Ms. Bernstein points out – Drs. Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks (the famed psychologists, authors and relationship coaches) do performance reviews with her each other twice a week. Dr. Kathlyn describes it this way – “It gives us a safe, sure place to talk about our emotions.”
If the review makes your relationship worse, or causes a lot of arguing, you may need relationship counseling. “If you are doing it well, you can tell because you will feel closer to each other and will each feel understood,” Dr. Cordova says.1
The Importance of ‘Teamwork’ in Relationship / Marriage Counseling and Reviews
We understand “teamwork” when it comes to the sports arena. How positive the effect could be for a couple to view themselves as partners and strive to communicate consistently so that each stays cognizant of what works or doesn’t work to support the “team’s” best interests and happiness. With reminders of the escalating rates of divorce, it seems essential to make the effort to stay ahead of all the added pressures of daily living that can take its toll on the fabric of marriages and the family unit. By checking in with each other, reviewing the status and quality of their lives, couples have a much greater chance of not just surviving, but thriving – within a powerful, intimate, peaceful loving partnership.
1 Elizabeth Bernstein, “A Performance Review May Be Good for Your Marriage,” Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2015 https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-performance-review-may-be-good-for-your-marriage-1444068231.