People are having a hard time right now. Marriages are struggling, anxiety and depression rates are through the roof and families are preparing to head back to school in the midst of an ever-changing pandemic. Counseling offices nationwide are booked and many have waiting lists that are months long. People are tired, overwhelmed and quite frankly, there are limited places to turn for quick support. In hopes to foster some deeper connection on your own time, I have compiled a relationship check-in for couples to use at their leisure.
When should couples do this?
Check-ins should be done when the relationship is at a neutral state and calm. Avoid trying to communicate about the state of the relationship in the midst of an argument, the responses will be heightened and too emotionally volatile to come to clarity.
How often should we do a check-in?
A check-in can be done as often you would like. However, it is best practice to check-in at least once a week. You do not need to use the questions below for that practice, once you get use to checking in with each other you will develop your own way to keep communication open. The questions below are simply to guide the conversation if you are unsure where to start.
Why should we check-in?
Preventative maintenance is the best way to mitigate crisis situations. Couples who check-in regularly and can talk about the state of their marriage improve their ongoing connection and increase emotional closeness. Who wouldn’t want to have a better relationship?
- When do you feel the most loved by me?
Simple, yes. Effective? Immensely. We tend to love others in the way we personally feel love. A simple check-in about the act of demonstrating love will provide necessary insight to ensure you are giving love (regularly) in the way your partner experiences love.
- What are we missing right now?
Is there anything getting in the way of having the relationship you want? Maybe you have lost the art of dating, you are struggling to find humor together, your spiritual connection is lacking, or you are not being intentional about quality time. Whatever it is, identifying it will be the first step to remedying the issue.
- How do you feel about our sexual relationship at the moment?
Conversation around your sexual relationship as a couple should be ongoing, fluid and open. Taking about sex is vulnerable, but the more you do the easier it becomes. Your sexual relationship should never be neglected from conversation, it is an essential element in a healthy relationship that needs attention.
- How do you feel about our division of roles lately? (Spousal, parental, etc).
Even if you have long standing roles it is important to ask whether you are both mutually okay with these positions. Are there any hidden resentments within the roles you hold? Maybe one of you has felt like there are areas that need adjusting? Perhaps you have added a new baby to the family, overtime hours are accruing at work, or something new is in the mix that would warrant a conversation around your roles. Whatever the case may be, it is worth talking about.
- What areas in our relationship would you like to see me tending to more?
This can be a sensitive question, though it is helpful to get feedback from our spouses if we want to ensure we are taking responsibility for our part. Blind spots are real. One way to gain insight into some of yours is through the loving eyes of your spouse. When you are ready to honestly listen and your partner is ready to compassionately communicate some areas that need tending, delve into this question together.
The conversations that surround this check-in can help support a couple in accessing deeper emotional closeness. Though, it is critical to note that wrapping up the check-in with a commitment to action is the most effective way to make use of this exercise. Like the Dalai Lama once said,
“Follow the three R’; Respect for self; Respect for others; Responsibility for all your actions.”
Good luck and be well!
-Written by Emily De La Torre, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Vancouver, WA