Every year we get a reminder to take our cars in for an MOT to ensure that they’re roadworthy. But what about our relationships? Do we need a reminder to check in with our partners, or should we just carry on until the wing mirrors fall off, and we can no longer see the relationship hazards coming our way?
Giving your relationship a regular tune-up can be an effective way to focus you on relationship niggles and nip them in the bud before they become major problems. It can help you to identify any underlying feelings that may be bubbling away, and take positive steps to work through them. It can also help to focus your mind on what’s going well.
The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to get your relationship back on the road.
Q1. Where does your relationship come in terms of your priorities?
- A. Bottom of the list, I haven’t got time to worry about it.
- B. Work definitely comes first, and then my relationship.
- C. After my kids- they come first and they need me.
- D. It comes top of the list.
Q2. When we have spare time, I prefer to
- A. Have a lie in on my own. I really need that time to myself.
- B. Run around trying to do all the household chores, cleaning the house, and other domestic demands.
- C. Catch up with extended family and friends.
- D. Make sure my partner and I have some uninterrupted time together.
Q3. The last time we had sex was
- A. So long ago that I can’t remember.
- B. About six months ago
- C. In the last month.
- D. This week.
Q4. When it comes to my partner respecting me, I feel
- A. Taken for granted.
- B. My partner is the breadwinner so they tend to control everything.
- C. Some days are better than others, but I do feel that my partner occasionally takes liberties.
- D. It’s a relationship of equals, and we respect each other.
Q5. The last time we said, “I love you” to each other was
- A. At the beginning of our relationship, and we haven’t said it since then.
- B. I don’t feel I need to say it. My partner should know by now.
- C. In the past few weeks.
- D. We make an effort to tell each other we love each other regularly.
Q6. The most important thing to keep a relationship fresh is
- A. I don’t know, I’m still trying to figure it out.
- B. Having lots of sex – that keeps things lively.
- C. Having the right chemistry, although I’m still not sure what that is!
- D. Working on our relationship regularly – as you would with anything that matters to you.
Q7. When it comes to domestic chores
- A. We don’t tend to discuss it, but I tend to do most of it.
- B. My partner assumes I’ll do certain chores which really winds me up.
- C. We’ve fallen into a routine of who does what, and have stuck with that.
- D. We tend to decide together what needs doing and then both sort things out.
Q8. When we argue it usually tends to be about
- A. Stuff that’s been simmering away for months, and ends in an explosive row.
- B. Money. We often argue when the bills come through.
- C. Small niggly things like housework.
- D. We don’t tend to row that much, as we discuss things regularly.
Q9. When it comes to having fun as a couple, I would say that
- A. We don’t have much fun anymore.
- B. We try to have fun, but usually end up arguing about silly stuff.
- C. We have fun sometimes, but I’d like to have more fun just like we used to when we first got together.
- D. We regularly have fun together.
If you got mostly As
Your relationship would definitely benefit from an emotional tune-up. A lot of areas that keep couples close and bonded, such as regular communication, making time to be physically close and having fun together, may have gone by the wayside as life pressures have taken over.
It’s likely that at times you feel as though you and your partner are nothing more than housemates and you may start to feel as though your relationship has lost its spark. Starting to re-connect with each other is a crucial first step. Whether it’s planning a date night, or even simply spending half an hour taking turns to listen to each other, it’s vital. Sometimes, it can feel very difficult to do this, especially if you have got out of the habit.
Talking to a professional like a Relate counsellor can be that important first step to get you both re-connecting again.
If you got mostly Bs
You’ve lost sight of each other, and communication could be more tense and anger based. It’s possible that there are resentments just beneath the surface that may be coming out as misunderstandings and miscommunications. If this isn’t nipped in the bud, then small resentments run the risk of becoming bigger frustrations within the relationship.
Focusing on each other in a positive way is important. Creating space to enjoy each other’s company can really help you to re-focus on you as a couple. When rows happen, make sure they’re specific and focused and don’t get out of hand. If you feel that this is about to happen, then follow the 90-second rule. It takes 90 seconds to get from the beginning to the end of an angry feeling. So give yourself that time to cool down before speaking with your partner.
Being focused about what you’d like to say to your partner can help prevent conversations becoming explosive. If anger is a regular feature of your communication style with each other, then opting to see a professional could help. This can give you both the opportunity to express feelings in a neutral space, as well as focus on positive steps forward.
If you got mostly Cs
You may long for the magic of the early days of your relationship, but have got stuck in to familiar and boring routines. You might have got so used to the way things are that you don’t expect anything different, and yet may feel frustrated at times that the relationship isn’t flourishing.
It’s important to talk to each other about your feelings, otherwise there’s a danger of assuming that you know how the other feels and know what they want without asking. Engaging in this type of behaviour usually means that you both end up feeling disappointed as needs continue to go unmet.
So, if you’re wondering where the fun has gone, make time to spend together. If you have children, ask the grandparents to do some baby-sitting so that the two of you can have some much-needed time together.
When you’re alone together, make sure you’re focused on each other, and not distracting yourselves with TV or Facebook. In order to maintain your emotional connection, spending time finding out how you’re each doing and creating special time together will increase your sense of appreciation and respect for each another.
If you got mostly Ds
You really understand the value of each other, and recognise that investing in your relationship is good for both of you.
You care about each other, and ensure that you express those feelings often. Your relationship foundation is strong, and you put the effort in to make sure that you both feel loved.