My Boyfriend & I Have A Monthly Review Of Our Relationship & That’s What Keeps Us Together

My partner and I are approaching our two-year anniversary, and while our relationship has gone through its fair share of drama, we’re generally a really strong couple. The secret? We have a monthly review of our relationship. It’s an unusual approach, but it’s worked pretty well for us.

  1. We got the idea from our married friends. They’re from a deeply religious background, which means they don’t really believe in divorce. They do everything they can to keep their marriage strong, including having monthly relationship reviews, and it seems to be doing the trick so far. Even though our circumstances are totally different to theirs, we thought we’d give this approach a try. Sure, we could break up if we needed to, but we don’t want to, so we’ll do anything we can to keep our relationship healthy.
  2. We think of it as being a relationship-level State of the Union. The goal of our monthly chats is simply to strengthen our relationship. We highlight what’s working well for us and what’s not. If we have any specific minor grievances that didn’t need urgently addressing when they came up, we air them in our meeting. We reaffirm our love for each other while acknowledging that nothing in this world is perfect, including our relationship.
  3. Our first “monthly review” was awkward, to say the least. We had no idea where to even begin! We decided to ease our way into things by covering the good aspects of our relationship first. Luckily, there was a lot to discuss and in general, we have a lot to be grateful for. We care for each other, support each other, and make each other laugh—all huge deal breakers for me. Still, no relationship is totally perfect, as we soon found out.
  4. Listening to each other’s grievances wasn’t easy. My boyfriend got upset when I brought up the communication issues we have when we have to spend time apart. Likewise, I felt awful when it turned out he wasn’t currently satisfied with our sex life. None of the problems we brought up were too difficult to fix. He learned to text me a bit more when he travels for work; I realized that I need to initiate sex more often. Still, we were both a bit down for a little while after that first discussion. Nobody likes criticism, even if it’s well-intentioned.
  5. As the months went by, each discussion got easier and easier. Setting aside time to chat really improved our communication skills as a couple. We’ve become more open with each other, less worried about how the other person will react, and generally even closer than we were before. We still have our occasional fights, and he still annoys me to death when he eats the last cookie that I’d saved for myself, but these minor issues don’t worry me anymore. I know that we’ll be able to talk them through productively—we’re experts in laying our cards on the table.
  6. We’ve learned not to have these chats if one of us is in a bad mood. In an ideal world, we’d be able to discuss our relationship productively no matter what mood we’re in at the time. However, we’re only human, and bad days affect us as much as the next person. We’ve learned that even if we’d agreed to have a “relationship summit” on a particular day, we should probably scrap it if one of us isn’t feeling great mentally. If we don’t, we end up misinterpreting things, we react badly to any criticisms that arise, and things usually end in tears. Nobody wants that.
  7. Having our monthly chat doesn’t mean we ignore issues as they come up. It wouldn’t be healthy for either of us to bottle up everything and unleash it all in one explosive discussion each month. If something major crops up, we’ll address it as it happens. For example, if my partner says something that upsets me, I’m not going to let it stew for days or weeks while I wait for our monthly chat to take place. I’m going to tell him there and then that he’s crossed the line. The monthly “review” is more about addressing problems that might have slipped through the cracks or that have been building up slowly.
  8. This approach to solving issues works well with my personality. I hate conflict of any kind. I’ll do anything I can to avoid it. I know it’s not the best way to live and that sometimes you do need to rock the boat a bit to receive the amazing treatment that you deserve. I’m working on feeling confident enough to do that. For now, though, the monthly relationship chats are a great safe space for me to discuss issues in an anxiety-free way. I don’t feel guilty about making my voice heard because that’s the whole point of the exercise. I have time to plan what I’m going to say. Most importantly, I don’t get the alarm bells that often start to ring when I’m pushed into an unexpected argument.
  9. Our friends and coworkers think we’re strange for analyzing our relationship in this way. They think that analyzing our relationship so closely will only lead to my partner and I becoming unhappy and splitting up. Some of them even claim that they’d rather ignore issues than address them in the way we do! Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what they think. They’re not the ones in this relationship. My partner and I are going to continue to act in a way that works well for us. Who cares if Sheila from accounting thinks it’s a bit weird?
  10. Having relationship reviews might not be the best approach for every couple. As I’ve mentioned, it works well for myself and my partner due to our specific personalities and the general strength of our relationship. However, that’s just our personal preference. If you’ve found a different way of keeping your relationship strong, that’s amazing. At the end of the day, you should always do what’s best for you, not what others expect or pressure you to do. That includes how you have your lovers’ tiffs!
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