If only relationships came with a “check engine” light. We go and go. We brush aside some concerns or ignore red flags. But in the end, if we don’t get a regular relationship checkup, we’re flirting with disaster.
We may be told stories of “till death do we part” and “happily ever after,” but reality has its own tale to tell. The divorce rate ranges as high as 50 percent—and that’s only for first marriages. The second time around, there might be a 60 to 70 percent chance of divorce. Can you imagine if we could keep track of the “break-up” rate for long-term, non-married couples?
This is the worst-kept secret in our culture, but so few of us do anything to prevent it. If we know a given food is bad for our health, we make conscious choices to avoid it. This doesn’t guarantee good health, but it’s the logical preventative measure. It’s time to apply such rational thought to our relationships.
Relationship Checkup: How to Build a Plan for Couple Maintenance
This is the foundation. It requires steady maintenance and re-evaluation. Without healthy communication, every other aspect of your relationship is weakened and more vulnerable. A few of the steps are:
- Learn how to listen actively
- Learn the two talking styles and learn how to speak both styles
- Practice radical honesty
- Avoid passive-aggressive choices
- Learn how to forgive and how to give an authentic apology
We must allow for evolution and re-imagining. Intimacy is not a static destination. It’s a wonderful and fluid process if we work together to keep things flowing. Some suggestions:
- Accept that lust feels differently over time
- Learn to work with differences in how people feel loved: being an emotional/mental sexual or a physical sexual
- Do not rely on pornography to offer “spice”
- Use your imagination
- Go back to #1 above: communicate your needs, boundaries, and desires and respect and create a bridge between any differences
3. Other Domestic Issues
Where do we begin? Perhaps family issues are the biggest concern. Your own children, your in-laws, extended family—each of these can be a minefield or a source of joy (but usually somewhere in-between).
Money can tear any two people apart, regardless of how they’re connected. Financial matters must remain transparent and equitable. This is a challenging area but it also presents an opportunity to work as a team. Keep it democratic and flexible. Talk about earnings, spending choices, investments, and more. Realize and work with the different ways of dealing with finances, conservitive and non-conservative.
5. Mental and Physical Health
Encourage and support each other in the crucial task of taking responsibility for your own health. Even better, work together on it. Join a gym and train as a couple. Shop, cook and eat together. Nurture your physical and mental health and be honest with each other when problems arise. Be one another’s best friend.
6. Social Life
It’s very important to socialize as a couple and have social time as individuals. Go out with groups or double dates. Practice being a couple in public. Equally as important is non-couple time. Support each other’s independence and development.
7. Set Goals Together
Plan for the future. Make life a shared mission. Work together to create new adventures and also, try volunteering as a couple. Find joy in the journey.
Does your relationship checkup need a jump start?
Some parts of our life are best delegated to professionals. Most folks don’t fix their own car, do their our taxes or diagnose their own ailments. So, when contemplating a relationship checkup, it makes sense to consult a relationship expert.
Couples counselling is a form of couples maintenance. It’s a positive environment in which strengths are revealed and encouraged. It’s also a safe space where each partner can talk about what needs attention before a crisis occurs. Working together with a therapist is not a guarantee of “happily ever after” but it certainly is a logical preventative measure.
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