Performance review for your marriage can open communication

WASHINGTON — The philosophy of nipping problems in the bud has relationship experts advising couples to conduct periodic marriage performance reviews.

The Center for Couples and Family Research at Clark University has done research that shows spouses who routinely discuss potential problems and ways to address them can strengthen their relationships.

The center’s advice for successful marriage reviews, as detailed in The Wall Street Journal, includes being specific and clear about what you might want to change; making the review a discussion, not a lecture, and being empathetic about issues that might be influencing your spouse’s behavior — such as whether he’s stressed, overworked or sick.

Some questions partners might discuss:

  • What would you like to improve?
  • Do we communicate wants and needs well?
  • Is work stress a problem for us?
  • How can we address specified issues and measure success?

The review should identify potentially problematic behavior versus sounding like a personal attack. So, you might use phrases such as: “When you did that, I felt like this.”

However, experts also tell The Journal  that if a relationship already is in serious trouble, performance reviews aren’t likely to help.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.

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