Use these suggestions as a starting place to keep your relationship focused on growing throughout the year.
When you want a quick check-in or are short on time:
1. These 3 questions can help identify specific actions to focus on for each partner. It’s important to begin with the first question. Giving positive feedback motivates us to invest in change requests.
Give yourselves at least a month to stay focused on starting or stopping ANY behavior. If we make a list of too many things, we get overwhelmed and tend to stay where we are. The brain likes repetition, so with all 3 in mind, which ONE thing will bring positive feelings to your relationship?
- What is one thing you’d like me to KEEP doing?
- What is one thing you’d like me to STOP doing?
- What is one thing you’d like me to START doing?
2. I picked up this set of questions from Brené Brown recently.
These are helpful for taking the pulse on the relationship and have the potential to open up more discussion, especially when perceptions differ. It can be eye-opening to hear when we think we’re doing something well, but our partner receives it differently.
Make sure you’re both in a calm frame of mind and open to feedback. (Just before bedtime = not a good time usually).
- What I would like more of.
- What do I think I’m doing well?
- What I feel you’re doing well.
Options that require a little more scheduled time:
- Create a mission statement for your family.
If you don’t have a mission statement for your family, this is a fun way to begin to create a shared vision. Putting in writing the core values as a family creates unity and affirms purpose. If you have kiddos, be sure to include them once you have an initial draft. Depending on their ages, you might be surprised by what they add or question. Including them is essential to buy-in, especially if they are middle school age and up.
Once you have your mission statement, create a representation that everyone will see. Maybe something like a coat of arms that clans would use to remind each other of their identity.
If you need ideas, you can use Chat GPT or search for “family mission statement” on the internet. Make it a fun project!
2. Setting up for a great year: schedule a day or weekend getaway
Just as healthy, successful businesses set aside time to review their past year and set goals for the coming year, couples/families that want to do more than stumble through another year can receive huge benefits from focused review and goal setting.
Once you have some goals identified for the year, then you can schedule quarterly check-ins to review and make sure things are staying on track. Or maybe there’s been a major change that needs to be considered. This is the nature of life…things change, and we adapt.
If you only have a day, break it up into segments that allow you both to stay focused, then take a break. Go to your favorite lunch place, or take a walk, then continue. Make sure to reward yourselves by enjoying something fun afterward!
OR, take a weekend (away or at home) and plan more fun things to make it a great time of connection, relaxation, and the dopamine high that comes with accomplishing an important goal.
Here’s a suggested outline of topics to cover. Some people like to write up an “agenda,” so they know how to pace their time. Feel free to do what works for you; add or leave out anything that doesn’t serve your relationship. Think of a wheel that rolls smoothly when it’s balanced. When there’s an imbalance, the wheel delivers a bumpy, jolting ride. That’s the goal here is to keep our wheel balanced.
- What has brought you the most joy in the past 90 days (or year)?
- What has been something hard for you? How can I support you in that?
- Are there any unresolved issues we need to address?
- What do we want to focus on for the next 90 days (Communication? Sexual relationship? Trust?)
- How can I love you better? One action item.
- Are there any hobbies or activities you want to focus on?
- Are there any challenges you’re facing? How can I support you?
- What health, diet, or sleep issues do you want to focus on?
- What are our shared goals as a family for the next 90 days?
- Are there any upcoming family events or commitments we need to plan for?
- What parenting or co-parenting goals do we have? (use this to address the needs of each child and identify 1 action item for each–an affirmation, resources they may need, sports or activities to consider, etc.)
- Are there any household or logistical changes we want to make?
- What are our financial goals and priorities for the next 90 days?
- Are there adjustments we need to make to our budget or savings plan?
- Are there any upcoming expenses that we need to plan for?
- Are there some friends we want to spend more time with as a couple?
- How are you feeling about your friendships?
- Are there any social engagements we need to add to our calendar?
- How do each of us feel about time to honor our spiritual development?
- What do I need in this area?
- Do my/our activities reflect our/my priorities?
- Or are there any adjustments I/we need to make?
- Are there any work stressors I need to know about?
- What is a win you’re proud of in the past 90 days?
- What rocks (barriers, hurdles) are you wanting to move in the next 90 days?
Health & wellness goals:
- What goals do you have for the next 90 days?
- What support do you need from me?
- What is a win we can celebrate for each other from the past 90 days?
Use this outline as a framework to get started. Make it your own as you go along, and most of all, have fun with it!