Approximately 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Couples getting married often times dismiss this alarming statistic feeling confident in their relationship. In fact, co-habitation increases a young married couple’s confidence but decreases their chances of staying in a committed marriage. Is there a solution?
The majority of experts in the field of marriage say, “yes, counseling.” But the problem with marital therapy for the majority of couples is that they wait too long to go to therapy, and divorces take several years to build before they become unbearable. If the couples seek therapy too late, the chances of therapy helping them work their issues out diminishes. Currently, marriage therapists are encouraging pre-marital counseling, and getting six-month checkups for your marriage to avoid small problems from growing and becoming insurmountable. However, counseling is expensive and couples believe they can work their issues out without help from a professional. Anyone married for more than two years knows problems worsen when not dealt with, and a problem that could’ve been resolved early cannot after years of contention and denial.
A new study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology promises hope for couples who are invested in creating a great marriage and are willing to sit down together and review their marriage. The study found that participating in a performance review significantly improves marriage satisfaction, and promotes better intimacy as well as couple connection. Participants also suffered less symptoms of depression than couples who did not participate. The performance review addresses several areas of a couple’s relationship, and the couple rates each one from 1 to 5 with 5 being highly satisfactory and 1 being very dissatisfied. Here is an example of a few of the questions:
Rate 1 to 5
- We work well together and share the load.
- Our Marriage is a high priority for both of us.
- We are good friends and support each other.
- We play together well.
- I have given you the physical affection that you need.
- I have been sensitive to your sexual needs.
- I have provided you with the emotional affirmation you need.
- I have listened well when you were telling me something
that was important to you.
- When we disagreed on something I was respectful of you and
willingly engaged until we resolved the issue.
- I have consulted with you regarding major expenditures of money.
- I have done my fair share of housework this year.
- I have done my fair share of childcare and parenting this year.
If you take this review and set it up with a spirit of working together on your marriage, it can be insightful and helpful. However, remember you cannot criticize your partner in the evaluation. Here are my suggestions if you do decide to begin an annual performance review of your marriage.
- Fill out the questionnaire the same time each six months or a year. For example, on your wedding anniversary or on New Year’s Day, or a yearly vacation.
- Do it when you’re together as a couple in a quiet non-distracting environment.
- Remember you’re doing this because you love your relationship and you’re invested in keeping it healthy.
- Don’t get defensive, but rather listen and be agreeable to making changes on your part.
- As you tell your partner things you’re unhappy with be open and honest about the role you play in that. No one is an island in a relationship.
- Celebrate after the review and understand that your healthy relationship is a work of progress and together you’re both invested in making it the best you can.
The day you say “I do” you make incredible promises to your spouse with complete confidence that you’ll be successful. However, years of sharing good and bad times can bring up issues you never considered going through with your partner. There is nothing more valuable than your relationship, and an annual performance review has the potential to help you work together and increase your intimacy and marriage contentment. It’s worthwhile making it a tradition in your marriage.