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Why you should be giving each other 'report cards' in your marriage
Marriages need regular, minor corrections to keep working toward relationship goals. If you make small changes along the way, it will help avoid the need for major changes later on. - photo by Wendy Jessen
How many marriages dissolve because the couple failed to communicate smaller problems early on, which led to bigger, compounding problems later?

Being married is not always easy. At first, it may feel blissful during the "honeymoon" phase, but then you find things that annoy you about your spouse. Or you may find parts of your relationship that aren't quite working. If you don't talk about these things as well as the things that are going right it can add friction and unnecessary turmoil to your marriage.

So why not have a little performance review, or give a "report card" of sorts, once a week or month to your spouse?

"A growing number of marriage therapists and relationship researchers recommend that spouses and romantic partners complete periodic performance reviews. Couples typically wait too long to go to therapy for help, they say. By taking time to regularly evaluate and review their relationship together, partners can recognize what is and isnt workingand identify goals for improvementlong before problems become entrenched and irresolvable," according to a Wall Street Journal article.

Here are some things you may wish to discuss with each other during your performance review:

  • Are we both working toward reaching our relationship goals? List things that each of you is doing well and the things that need work.
  • Are we reaching our financial goals? Where can we improve?
  • Do we spend enough time as a family with our children?
  • Are we supporting and helping each other with individual responsibilities?
  • Where do you need to personally improve to be the best "you"?
While discussing these things is important, you need to make sure you are giving your performance reviews from a place of love, not dominance or like a boss to an employee. You're both at the same level and on the same team. If one or both of you feel attacked or belittled, that'll instantly put you on the defense. You can't make progress effectively in an argument.

  • Recognize that the problem behavior does not make you or your spouse a bad person. Perhaps an effective tool to use is the "I feel" statement we learned in elementary school.
  • Explain why you feel the way you do about a certain behavior and why it needs to change.
  • Show compassion for your husband or wife. Is the behavior a result of too much stress? A busy schedule? Not enough sleep? Illness? "I understand that you've been really stressed lately..."
  • Discuss the "why" behind the problem and what you can each do to remedy it.
  • Be consistent and make time to regularly discuss what is going well in your relationship and what needs improvement.
While this can be effective for many couples, occasionally there may be bigger problems where you might consider seeking the help of a marriage therapist. Also, if these discussions lead to more fighting rather than resolutions and greater love for each other, that is an indication that your marriage may need some professional intervention to help you work through problems.

By doing these simple performance reviews with each other regularly, you'll become better communicators with each other, and you'll be able to resolve issues before they become serious problems that could lead to divorce. As you focus on what is going well in your marriage while making minor corrections as needed, you will feel closer to one another and have a mutual feeling of being respected, heard and understood.
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