The President's State of the Union is over – what would be part of yours if given about your union?
In political chambers throughout the country, including in our national Capitol, political leaders give annual addresses to talk about how we are doing and what challenges we need to face in the year ahead. Thinking about the highlights offered in the State of the Union tonight, there are similar categories that you could use to evaluate your union. How would you rate your marriage, domestic partnership or other significant relationship? Consider the following items to work out your State of the Union and use it to celebrate what has gone well and to advance in the coming year that with your significant other that you may write a wonderful story for your life together. A recent study from Northwestern University has found that regularly reappraising your relationships can help you keep that loving feeling - so why not start with this list?
- Roles. How are the two of you working together in your partnership? Have you adopted roles in your relationship that are appropriate and which give satisfaction to both of you? Do you share in the responsibilities that will allow things to be accomplished by one or both of you in ways that respects the roles each of you has to play in those decisions and actions? Do you work together in ways that makes each of you feel involved while not being smothered? If you work out these aspects around roles then you can function the way our federal government is supposed to function – with each party doing their part in the whole process.
- Respect. How do both of you feel respected within the relationship? What allows each of you to feel your sense of value, especially when you take on different roles whose value is determined differently? If one of you spends more of your role focusing on your home and children while the other spends more time away at work raising funds – how do you let each other know that both are valued?
- View to the Future. Are you laying a solid foundation for what you need in the future? Is your current situation stable or does its shakiness affect your relationship? How does your future look – are you doing things now that will make your life together better in the future? Is your family situation supported by the work (and career ideas) of one or both of you?
- Security. At the most basic level, is your family secure? Are you able to meet the basic needs of every member? Beyond this, is there emotional security in your relationship? Do you feel that your relationship enhances your own sense of security and secureness? Are you feeling overly stressed? Does this same security lead to a satisfying sex life?
- Fair Fight. Having disagreements is actually a healthy aspect within a relationship, but do yours play out in ways that are not healthy causing problems for one or both of you? Do you find yourselves doing things when you are fighting that you have agreed to not do because of how it can hurt? Do you not use strategies that you have learned that could allow you to relate to each other better when you do fight?
- Turn Problems Into Assets. When you encounter problems, do you see them as barriers or do you see them as opportunities to grow and change as you face them? Do you see a problem as something that can be addressed in different ways in order to turn them into something that is an asset for both of you? Do you try to hide problems or do you engage each other to be able to have more ideas about how to proceed?
- Broader Family. If you have children, how are they affecting your relationship? Are you allowing them to become the focus to the exclusion of the feeding of your own relationship? Are you working to ensure your children learn from you what they need to become responsible adults? Are you teaching them both from what you say and by the examples you set? Additionally, how are you balancing the fact that you have formed a new family and that each of you came from your own family?
- Spirituality. Are you connecting with each other in all dimensions of your life, including the spiritual dimension? Have you found ways to share about your beliefs and your faith practices?
- Communication. Do you communicate with each other – not talk to each other but really communicate? Do you make sure you hear what the other person is saying and take ownership for your own part in the communications? This is a key dimension for people who are in relationships. If you take care of this then you will make sure that each of you always has a voice.
So, as you review these areas and their questions, how does your State of the Union sound? What areas can you celebrate the strengths that exist in your relationship? In the areas where you are not where you want to be, what are your plans for the next year. Keep that spark alive in your relationship. On your own or with help, it is possible to address these and gain wholeness and peace in your relationship.