Maintaining The Marriage: Not too many people tell you about what it takes to ‘maintain’ a marriage. Society will tell you everything you want to know about dating, hooking up, the wedding, having babies and parenting, and breaking up/divorce. What you don’t hear a lot of is the very seemingly unsexy topic of maintenance. Why is that? Perhaps it is something collectively that we just don’t know too much about? When we think about maintenance, we tend to think of houses, cars, computers, and that makes sense, nothing can or does stay ‘brand new and shiny’ forever! So it makes a world of sense that we should maintain our marriages. In couples therapy I often suggest a Couple’s Check In. This concept is an intentional budgeted, meeting between partners with the goal of discussing what is working and what is not working within the marriage. This Check In can be weekly, or monthly-the cadence is yours to make based on your schedules and time, but it should be put on calendars just like a Dr’s appointment to ensure that you prioritize it and attend. The Check In can be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, a lunch date-those details don’t matter as much as the goal which is to discuss current issues between the couple. Think about it, many of us have staff meetings, or board meetings, these seem completely ordinary in the workforce and are done to make sure the whole team is on the same page. The Couple’s Check In should not look or feel like a business meeting, but it should afford both people the opportunity to bring topics forward and to have dedicated and hopefully uninterrupted time to discuss, plan and implement changes. Starting the Check In with positives is always wise. Commenting and complimenting what you are doing well in the marriage is a smart move and sets the tone for the Check In. People are more open and influenced when they feel heard, and appreciated, so remember that at the onset. Giving your partner props for what is working and what you have been happily noticing in the marriage. When bringing up issues/topics that pose challenging for you in the relationship, remember to be respectful and emotionally regulated-no one wants to be disrespected and talked down to. Most couples who establish a routine Check In report an increase in positive regard toward each other as well as an increase in connectivity and ability to resolve underlying and/or chronic issues. Couple’s therapy is often very helpful when establishing ideas for couple’s Check Ins and a space to address and practice themes.

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