Friday, January 10, 2014

The Art of Relationships

Completing an Annual Review as a Couple

We don’t think twice about doing annual reviews at work but I personally have never considered sitting down to complete one as a couple-till now. This isn’t an opportunity to bash your partner about your disappointments but rather discuss what fell short of your expectations and how you would like to change those things in the new year. The areas I chose to evaluate were: finances, health, getaways, personal development and family (but you can choose any categories that fit your relationship). First, I sat down with my husband and made a list of the things we were less than satisfied with in 2013, things we wish we had done and those items we often argued about. Then, I set up four columns that represented each of these categories and wrote down those items we discussed in the corresponding category (see example below).  When you get to this part be sure to phrase your complaint item in the form of a goal. Example: Instead of “We never go anywhere” say “I would like to go on an annual vacation somewhere outside of the state”.  Additionally, it often helps to se achievable and measurable goals. For example: “work out a minimum of 4 times a week for 40 minutes”. I can tell you at the end of the week if this goal was accomplished without any question or subjective opinion.

Finances : Pay more towards my student loans (a minimum of “x” a month)   

Health : Work out a minimum of 4 times a week for 40 minutes  

Getaways : Have a local getaway at least once every 2 weeks  

Personal Development : Set aside 30 minutes a day to read a book for leisure  

Family : Go on a walk as a family every evening after work   

It can be a daunting task to admit that there are areas that you are less than satisfied with. You may wonder if completing this annual review will make problems were there they didn’t previously exist. But my philosophy on the matter is treat your relationship like you treat your car (but better!... assuming you take care of your car). We do preventive maintenance to our car like changing the oil, washing it, keeping the tires inflated and the inside cleaned out… usually. We don’t wait to run out of gas before we decide to put gas in the car; we know that it needs it so we stop regularly to fill it up so it will function properly. Your relationship is no different, regular tune-ups are imperative and this is one way to make sure that you keep it working in tip top shape! Good luck and Happy New Year!

Jessica Gorman has spent her career working in the non-profit mental health field. She has graduate degrees in Counseling Psychology/Marriage and Family Therapy Licensure Preparation and Education/Instructional Leadership and a BA in Psychology.  She has worked in a variety of settings including group homes, behavioral health agencies, universities and healthcare clinics. She has experience working as an individual, family, couple and group counselor for both children and adults.  Her personal interests within the mental health field include PTSD treatment (civilian and military) as well as the emotional challenges of parenthood.

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