One of the things I love about endings is that they give us a time to reflect.
So, as a relationship expert, I’m a big fan of examining the state and health of a relationship. What better time to do that then as we come towards the end of another year?
Honestly, you don’t have to wait for a year to end to do this type of evaluation. In my marriage, we do this ‘Relationship Audit’ at our anniversary dinner.
Instead of spending time talking about the kids or work, we choose to intentionally use that time to explore the pulse of our relationship – and then make adjustments accordingly.
These 10 questions encompass what I think are the five big areas of a relationship (financial, sexual, spiritual, emotional, and physical) and together make up what I like to call a Relationship Audit.
It’s important to remember that this is not a scoresheet – You are both on the same team working towards the same goals. The goal of this exercise is to increase communication and connection, not blame or alienate.
This process is most effective when both partners are willing to be honest and vulnerable and are able to bring a considerable amount of self-awareness to the discussion. Otherwise you’re not going to have the rich conversation (and subsequent results) you both deserve.
It’s helpful to remember that there is no right way to do this. Some couples have each partner answer the questions individually before their meeting and go over their findings.
Some couples use these questions as more of a conversation guide. However you do it, give grace to one another and be open to the feedback your partner has for you. Did I mention you’re both on the same team?
10 Questions for your Relationship Audit
Is there something you want to invest in this year?
This could be a stock or company or even something as tangible as your health. The focus is on the financial aspect and what that realistically looks like in terms of monetary investment.
Is there a spending habit you want to change?
This is not the time to berate your partner for their spending habits. Offer your own observations without judgment (ex: I noticed that when you lost your job, our Amazon spending increased quite a bit. Were you aware of that? Why do you think that is?). Be curious about your own spending as well as your partner’s.
Do you feel connected to our spiritual community (or your spiritual beliefs)?
It’s normal for beliefs to change and shift throughout a relationship. Faith communities can also get new leadership. Do you still feel aligned to where you practice your faith?
Are there any beliefs you’ve been struggling with?
Did anything happen this past year that caused you to question your spiritual beliefs?
Is there anything new you want to try sexually?
Give each other permission to really be open-minded with this one. If your partner suggests something a little outside your comfort zone, allow yourself to question WHY that act makes you uncomfortable. Would you be open to learning more about what interests them about that sexual act?
What is something that you have really enjoyed sexually with me?
Let’s acknowledge the fun and playful times we had! It’s powerful to share these moments with each other. And if you’re struggling, think basic (i.e. kissing, being held, massages, etc…).
Do you feel like you’re getting enough one-on-one time with me (and if applicable, the kids)?
Quality time is critical for some people. If you’re not one of those people, you may not even really think about how much time you’re spending one-on-one with those closest to you.
What is something I did this past year that made you feel supported?
Again, let’s celebrate how you felt emotionally supported! Did they do a great job listening, problem-solving, helping with chores/errands? Thank them for filling your cup this way.
How are you feeling about your body? How can I support your relationship with your body?
Body satisfaction tends to drop as we age. If it feels authentic, affirm your partner’s body to them. Ask for ways they would feel more seen and/or supported with their body.
Is there a health goal that would be beneficial to do together (ex: eat less sugar, reduce alcohol, daily walks together)?
I prefer to ADD healthy choices as opposed to restricting less healthy ones. This isn’t about punishing yourself or your partner. It’s about identifying ways you can align your lifestyle to your values and goals.
If you find yourself unable to really get through these questions without an argument ensuing, then I highly suggest working with a professional. Sometimes we can do this on our own and sometimes, we need to call in some help.
Your relationship deserves to be nurtured, explored, and valued. Relationship Audits are the opportunity to do just that.
Courtney Boyer, M.Ed., M.S is a relationship and sexuality expert and author of Not Tonight, Honey: Why women actually don’t want sex and what we can do about it.