Erica J. Burns, M.A.
New Year's Review
You may know that I'm a couple's coach and I practice a form of couple's coaching called Imago
Relationship Therapy. There's an Imago tool for couples to use at New Year's time called the Annual
Review. Because it is such a great relationship building tool, I wanted to share it with you. As I
reviewed it I realized that it could be useful for anyone. So I thought I'd present it to you here with the
original format and also with ways you might adapt it if you are single or a parent.
The way the Annual Review is configured is there are a series of five sets of double questions. The
first question asks about something you experienced with your partner in 2009 and the second question
asks what you would like with or from your partner in 2010. The way to use the questions is to sit
down with your significant other around January 1st and ask each other these questions, taking turns
answering each one. If you'd like you can repeat back to your partner what you hear them say so that
you are both sure that you are hearing accurately.
The first pair of questions are “How did I add to your life in 2009?” and “How would you like me to
add to your life in 2010?” Wow, if that doesn't make you think, I'm not sure what would. You can give
some serious consideration to how you contribute to your partner, in emotional, material, intellectual
and spiritual ways. These questions can be asked of yourself as well. “How did I add to my own life
this year and how would I like to add to my life in the coming year?”
“What helped you to feel loved and safe in 2009?” and “What would help you to feel loved and safe in
2010?” is the second pair of questions. If you are struggling in your relationship, you may not have felt
terribly loved and/or safe with your partner. If you take the time to seriously consider this question you
can probably find some ways at some times when you did feel at ease and connected to one another.
Of course, if you are doing well in your relationship you may have a very long list for an answer. For
single people it is very valuable to ask yourself these same questions. If you were not feeling loved and
safe during the past year, you may need to deeply consider what you need to do to take better care of
yourself in the coming year.
In this dialogue, you then move on to “What precious memories do you have from 2009?” and “What
precious memories would you like to create in 2010?” This is a wonderful question to ask your
partner, yourself, a close friend and even your children. It will give you much information about what
the person who is responding finds delightful. If you are answering it yourself, it will get you thinking
about the joyful things you might begin to plan for yourself in the year ahead.
Next you inquire “How did you see me grow in 2009?” and “How would you like me to grow in
2010?” This is an especially good question to ask yourself as well as your partner. Growth also comes
ERICA J BURNS
"Over drinks at a bar my date revealed many interesting details about himself. He used to live on 'the streets.' He claimed to have 'beat Spina Bifida.' He had had a fiancé in Japan who was open to him dating women while he was in the States. After all those amazing revelations I let him know our relationship would not be romantic. As we walked out of the bar he appeared to be suffering from some sort of stomach cramp. He told me he suffered from severe IBS and desperately needed a private bathroom. I have family members who suffer from Crohn's disease so I felt very sympathetic to his situation. I offered to let him use the bathroom in my apartment. After he had finished using the bathroom, he says, 'I know you said we could just be friends and that's fine. But, I was wondering if I could just watch you pee before I leave. I only want to watch.' P.S. — I did not let him watch me pee." -Miranda, 33
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