Running away from a heart to heart conversation is the easiest way to run into heart problems in your marriage, yet couples do it all the time. Have you ever taken the time to evaluate/assess your relationship? Have you ever thought about rating facets of your marriage? I can imagine couples have done this, but not in a systematic way. I think the tension that it brings momentarily may make couples overlook its benefits in the long run. A routine, non-judgmental conversation asking “Where are we?” can be a great way to steer a marriage into longevity, happiness, and fulfillment.
Let’s speak of it:
1. If you’ve never taken the time to evaluate your marriage before, make sure you discuss the idea first with your spouse.
There’s nothing worse than being asked to sit down, looked at face to face and be critiqued without knowing why. Before you even begin to look at the facets of your marriage that needs evaluation, ensure that your spouse is willing to evaluate your marriage together. Since this type of evaluation is for the health and progress of your relationship, it would be wise to do it together. Evaluating your marriage alone will just bring frustration to you and bad looks from your spouse. If it takes your spouse some time to warm up to the idea, that’s okay, let them take their time; it would be worth it in the future. (Have them read this piece if need be.) Strong marriages are the result of couples asking the hard questions to each other and for each other, so take the necessary steps for heartfelt evaluation. Talking about expectations can be the most intimidating aspect of any relationship, but your marital health needs it.
2. When speaking to each other about any given aspect of your marriage, agree to speak candidly for the betterment of your relationship.
For an assessment to be relevant, it has to be truthful. Skirting around issues and delaying a heart-felt answer can create more angst than relieve it. Say what’s in your heart. Discuss with your spouse where you are at concerning any given topic and lovingly share how it can get better for both of you. Letting your spouse know why somethings matter to you can help them cooperate with you or even concede some things to make you more fulfilled. When evaluating, don’t get worked up or offended. Rather, get acting and working to increase your spouse’s sense of fulfillment and belonging. Give leeway to each other for adjustments. Don’t expect miracles, just speaking about your marriage may just be enough to begin the process of a more fulfilled marriage.
3. What areas in your marriage should be evaluated? Everything.
Emotional, financial, familial, sexual – all aspects of your marriage can and should be discussed. But not all at once! Especially if you are both new to evaluation or find it difficult to even self-evaluate, take the the area that you feel you both are most fulfilled in. How would you know? Ask the question: “What area are you and I “good” at right now?” then, “Is there anyway for us to make [that] better?” Once you get the conversation going, you both can then navigate wisely to the more demanding, emotionally charged areas of your marriage.
4. Use a rating system of fulfillment, asking the questions: How can I do better? In what ways can I make you feel more fulfilled?
Love is not about you. Marriage is about both of you, but love is about your spouse. Their fulfillment, as long as it’s humanly possible, should be your m.o. A rating scale of 0-5 where 0 is “not very fulfilled” to 5 being “incredibly fulfilled” is a easy way to assess where you both are at. (Of course, you two can create your own scale that best suits you both.) If you’re spouse is fulfilled, most likely your marriage is healthy. You know what they say about assumptions; asking your spouse to rate their fulfillment can help you become the best you can be and vice versa.
Every Wednesday, I will tweet from @SpeakOfMarriage about my ideas on how you can help your spouse be more fulfilled in a given area of marriage. You can join the conversation with the hashtag #WhereAreWeWednesdays. Hope to hear your digital voice. And, Lord willing, may be after weeks of self and marital evaluation, you and your spouse can dwell happily, daily after.