This month we focus on how you can connect more with your husband, wife, spouse or significant other with one simple weekly task. It’s called the couples check-in. When you think about it, anyone who has worked a job has likely had to attend weekly meetings, huddles, or get togethers with co-workers. This time is often used to provide updates, new policies, see how things are going in the workplace and to connect with others. So why is it that we don’t implement this same type of structure with our partner?
The couples check-in is a great opportunity to provide more connection and organization in your partnership. First, you will want to schedule a time for a weekly couple/marriage check-in. For example, Sundays at 6pm. Stick to this time unless you have both agreed to change it ahead of time. I recommend putting it in your calendar on your phone as a standing weekly appointment and set a reminder so it’s not forgotten. Commit to participating in the couples check-in weekly. The purpose is to set aside dedicated time to give and provide feedback, plan for the future, set goals and connect. Consider how we plan for our week with work, the kids, school, etc… and then give that same value and commitment to your partnership. Having this scheduled time helps us commit to giving and receiving feedback during a more emotionally calm state versus trying to make these changes during heated arguments. We tend to be more receptive and more logical during these times.
Decide who will lead the couples check-in that week (acting as facilitator of the discussion).
Find a way to make your check-in unique. For example, my husband and I call it our “weekly hug check-in” and we start and close our meeting with a hug. I know it might sound cheesy but it helps loosen things up while also working on physical connection.
Next consider TWO positive pieces of feedback you can provide to your partner over the past week. It can be something simple like, “I really like that you gave me your full attention when I got home to say hi and ask how my day was.” Or,” I really appreciated that you made dinner the other night for us.” Choose things that are meaningful to you and that you would love to see more of. Do NOT say “I can’t think of anything positive.” Do your best to pick something, even if it’s the slightest positive gesture that you noticed. Next choose ONE piece of constructive feedback to give to your partner. Saying more than one or two constructive comments can be discouraging to your partner. Keep it brief and work on phrasing this in a positive way. For example, instead of saying, “I really hate that you are on your phone and not giving me your full attention when I’m talking,” try saying what you would like to see instead, such as “I would love if I could have your full attention when I’m talking to you which would mean looking at me, putting your phone down and responding to what I am saying.” Let your partner respond how he/she chooses and don’t get caught up in examples or defending your feedback. (We will have another blog post on receiving feedback). Now, move on to your partner sharing his/her feedback to you. Again, this would start with TWO positive pieces and then ONE constructive piece. Thank your partner for the feedback. Don’t get defensive or explain yourself, no matter how much it might hurt to get the constructive feedback. Work on accepting the feedback and working to make changes.
Next it can be good to organize the week by reviewing schedules, plans for the kids, outings, etc… In order for everyone to be on the same page.
I also encourage couples to review their goals. If you have not set goals with your partner before consider doing this at least annually. Consider personal goals, health goals, partnership goals, family goals, financial goals. Write these goals down and briefly review them each time you complete your marriage check-in. It can be fun to see how much progress you are making together towards these goals while also figuring out how to support one another with their individual goals.
Use this brief format to guide your session:
Marriage check-in will be held on ____________________
Check-in leader is ________________________________
TWO positive things I appreciated from my partner this week were _____________________
ONE thing I would have liked to see done differently is ______________________________
Thank one another for the feedback.
Review schedule for the week.
Review goals and progress towards these goals..
End meeting with a positive touch (i.e. hug, kiss, snuggle).
Let us know how this works for you including where you struggled and what went well. Commit to participating in this check-in every week for at least 3 months and see what kind of difference it is making in your relationship. If you are having difficulty implementing this with your partner let us help facilitate the conversation with couples therapy. Often times getting a little bit of outside help can ease the process and help each partner learn the best way to communicate with one another.