All too often in my counseling office, a couple comes in for counseling because one of them has just been blindsided by their partner—their partner isn’t happy—yet they had no idea that there were any major problems. This may have been the first real conversation they’ve had about in the relationship in a long time. Common follow up questions might be, “how did this happen?” or “why didn’t you tell me before now?” They have failed to connect as a couple.
We know that there are many factors that help you connect with your partner. Yet, I have found one of the most important to be regular check-up conversations. This applies to engaged couples completing premarital counseling and to those married for a number of years. The purpose of the check-up conversation is to check-in with your partner to see how they are doing and how they feel the relationship is going. This gives each partner time and space to express their feelings about the relationship and helps each of them figure out what needs to happen next. I recommend these check-up conversations be used throughout the life of a marriage—not just when someone initially ties the knot.
Six questions to ask during a check-up conversation:
1. What information do I need to share? What do you need to share?
2. What’s something you appreciate about me?
3. What needs to change with me (my behavior)?
4. What are my hopes and dreams? (This can be short term or long term, and can also include, any new things I’m looking forward to).
5. How can I pray for you? (If you are faith-based), or What can I do to help you with things going on in your life?
6. On a scale of 1-10, how full is your love tank? (To what degree are you feeling loved in this relationship)? What can I do to better fill your love tank?
To help you connect with your partner, I recommend this conversation occur once a week. Figure out a place and time that the conversation can happen. This should be a time when you can both be attentive to one another without distractions by other people and other things.
How these questions can help you and your marriage:
- Increased Communication: It keeps you from putting your marriage on auto-pilot. It also decreases the chances that the “but I didn’t know you were that unhappy in our marriage” conversation from happening.
- Encourages Appreciation & Admiration: Couples who only complain about the problems with their partner and don’t focus on what’s going right are statistically less satisfied in marriage and more likely to get a divorce.
- Prevents Defensiveness: Couples who use these six questions come into the conversation knowing what to expect because they know that part of the process includes talking about what needs to change. Knowing this keeps you and your partner from feeling bombarded or attacked.
Having regularly scheduled check-up conversations is a small behavior change that keeps you connected and on the same page with your partner.
We often hear that couples are struggling to revive sexual intimacy. Check out our blog Are You Struggling in a Sexless Marriage.
Sometimes things have piled up in a relationship and it’s hard to know where to begin to sort things out. Our therapists are relationship experts and would love to help you with the sorting and help you rekindle your relationship. Call us today or schedule an appointment through our website.