The Relationship Check-In: How to do a Marriage Check-up

So you want to start a regular weekly marriage meeting? Ready to take your relationship to the next level? Looking for support as you stay close, connected, and in healthy communication with your partner? 

Here are 6 steps for getting started on your weekly relationship check-ins: 

1. Introduce the idea to your partner

For check-ins to be a success, both partners need to be on board. To introduce the idea to your partner, find a time when your partner is likely to be receptive, i.e. not when he/she is tired, hungry (erm...hangry) or stressed. It's also best to introduce the idea of a weekly check-up with words of affirmation rather than criticism.

Examples include: A: "Hey honey, I've been thinking a lot about our relationship and I'd love if we could start a regular check-in to give us a chance to focus on shifting <Problem> and get back on the same page."; B: "Hey babe, I know we've been having some friction so I thought it might be a good idea for us to start a check-in where we can have productive chats so we can fix this and also share what we love about our relationship."

2. Find a mutually agreed upon time and location. And stick to it.

Weekends or evening once children are asleep, work emails are dwindling and after both partners are fed and unwound from work-life stresses are the best times. You'll need an hour (sometimes 90 minutes to start) of uninterrupted time. 

Pick a time and stick to it. If you find the time is mutually difficult to keep, try a new time.

HPP's founder and her boyfriend do them at 8 am on Saturdays even though she's not a morning person. He's freshest in the morning and says he has the "most to give" in the morning before he gets exhausted with the daily grind. It's a time that they chose based on some trial-and-error. And, he's committed to meeting her with coffee in-hand when she wakes with 10 min to spare before their check-in starts. Sometimes they'll go to their favorite coffee shop and check-in there. 

The goal is to have the check-ups be a time of relief and ultimately of enjoyment, so cut yourselves some slack if you learn by failure to hit the time. And if the time consistently "doesn't work" -- it might be a signal of a deeper issue to be explored. Location choice is flexible -- get creative! Check in during a hike or to kick off date night. As long as you can focus, the location is less important than the uninterrupted time.

3. Get rid of distractions. 

Yes, you'll need to put your phones away. You'll need to tuck the children into an activity or into bed. Television and any other media distractions should be off. You'll want to give your partner your undivided attention. It shows him/her you care and that attention is priceless. 

4. Treat the time as sacred. 

Take a moment now, think of some activity that you wouldn't dare skip? The season finale of Game of Thrones? Your weekly mani/pedi? Walking the dogs? Feeding your children? Attending that weekly sales meeting you hate? 

Yes, treat your check-ins as sacred. It's one hour of quality time with the person you love, the person who lifts you up and supports you. You invest time in your career, your personal appearance and loads of other less meaningful activities. This hour is powerful. And you wouldn't "flake" on something that has the ability to make you happier and more in love with your partner, right? 

Right.

5. Remember! Check-ins are not a war zone.

Yes, often we bring our big issues to the table. Sometimes the fighting is too much to bear. Relationship check-ins are not intended to be a time when partners get free reign to put on the boxing gloves and clobber each other. It's a time to practice healthy conflict resolution, connection, deeper understanding and appreciation for each other. 

6. Follow the Happy Partners Project protocol. 

The Happy Partners Project process was designed to shift focus from problems to solutions and support other areas of connection between partners. Read the commitments at the beginning and use those as guiding principles between check-ins. There will be difficult moments to start as many partners experience discomfort when building healthier ways of being in relationship with others. Don't give up. Stay the course and keep up with the check ins. 

Ping us with Q's and join the Happy Partners Project forum to share your wins and get input as needed! 

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