The new year is coming quickly and with it comes a time when many of us take time to reflect on different areas of our lives. We may set new exercise goals to become healthier, new career goals or new spiritual goals to get closer to God, You also should consider setting new relationship goals, especially in your marriage. One way to do this is with an end-of-year marriage checkup.
Sometimes we’re too busy in our marriages to notice that we should be working on our marriages. You wouldn’t neglect your yearly checkups for your health, your car, or your tax situation, so don’t continue through each year of your marriage without any check on its health.
What is a Marriage Checkup?
A marriage checkup is simply a time intentionally set aside for you and your spouse to keep up the maintenance of your marriage. During that time you reflect on the good and work together on solutions for any problems.
Having a marriage checkup gives you a chance to recognize the beginning of damaging habits that are eroding away your marriage. It allows for an opportunity to get the small issues out in the open. Then you can nip them in the bud before they become a landslide of problems that destroys everything in its path.
Having these checkups on a regular basis gives the two of you a safe space in which you can discuss hard things. These meetings provide an outlet for those small issues to be addressed. There are also many times when waiting a day or two to discuss something helps weed out what was really important and what was just due to a bad day. Every little thing is not necessarily important enough to have a serious talk over. Letting those go reduces unnecessary fights and prevents explosions of temper.
How to Conduct a Marriage Checkup
When you are ready to have a marriage checkup, keep this sentence in mind: “Ask not what your marriage can do for you, ask what you can do for your marriage!” This quote will get you in the proper mindset to have open and honest discussions.
Choose a good time when no one is upset so you both will be relaxed. Allow about an hour so you won’t be rushed.
Find a comfortable place to sit, preferably side by side.
Pray and ask God to open your ears to listen attentively to one another.
Compliment each other. Don’t be afraid to list more than one thing about your spouse that you love. Kind words will give you a good starting point and make anything that is discussed later feel like it’s in the context of a loving relationship.
Express your needs. Be specific and say it in love. Don’t overwhelm them with a huge list. Pick one or two ways you need to have your needs met and work on them together.
Focus on what is happening between you IN your relationship, and not what each of you may be doing TO the other. Don’t be accusatory. Use statements starting with “I…” instead of “You…”
When you complete your meeting, end with affection. Hugs and kisses go a long way in cementing your relationship.
Ten topics for Checkup discussion
Love and commitment:
Are we still putting effort into creating a happy marriage, or are we just floating along? What can we do next year to improve in this area?
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
Patience and forgiveness:
Do we say, “I’m sorry,” or “I forgive you” when there has been a conflict? Do we cut each other some slack when they make a mistake?
“Be completely humble and gentle; Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3
Did we spend enough time together this year as a couple? Did we spend our fun free time together or with our individual friends. How can we schedule time differently to spend more of it together doing fun things?
Honesty and trust:
Were we candid with each other this year when it came to our hurts, sins, or fears? Did we build trust between us with kind words or did we say things that may have been hurtful?
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity” Titus 2:7
Did we set aside time to talk about meaningful topics, not just the schedule or the kids? When we had disagreements, did we come to a mutually agreeable resolution or did we harbor bitterness and anger?
Did we put the other person before ourselves by asking what we could do to show more love and attention to one another, or did we take one another for granted?
Is our sex life mutually satisfying or has it become a source of stress in the marriage?
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4
How often have we read the Bible or prayed together over the past year?
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4
Have we shown our gratitude for the things that the other one does every day to keep up with day to day life as a married couple?
How are we sharing household duties? Does one of us feel overwhelmed or frustrated by the share they do?
Discussions about these questions are only going to benefit your marriage if you commit to both being honest and being receptive to your spouse’s answers to them. If it seems like the problems are too severe to solve on your own, you need to reach out to help. Try some mentoring first. Whether you work with us or have a trustworthy couple from your church who would be willing to help, get someone to talk to. Your situation may warrant professional marriage counseling, and if it does, try to find a faith-based counselor to help you.
You can address some of these issues by setting new priorities, being intentional about making changes, working together, and praying. So, hold on to these answers, because coming soon we’ll take a look at how you can turn some of these discussions into goals that you can set for your marriage for next year!
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