Relationship State of the Union
October 3, 2017 6:54 PM   Subscribe

My lovely girlfriend and I are celebrating our first year together, yay! We want to put time aside to check in with each other about our needs, expectations, goals, plans, and so on, for the relationship. Do you have any advice or tools for checking in with your partner outside of the day to day?

We're having a great time together, we talk about our feelings and problem-solve together A LOT, and we're committed to being together long-term and are in the earlyish stages of talking about what that commitment might look like.

But I think it's worth taking time outside of the normal course of things to check in with each other about anything that might be getting lost in the shuffle, to make sure we're meeting each other's needs well, whether that's to do with emotional labour type stuff, how much time we spend together and how we spend it, what we want our relationship to look like in 5 years, the sex we have, our relationships with our own or each other's families, etc.

If you were checking in with your partner after a year together, what would you want to talk about? Bonus points for checklists or other more structured tools.

I'm 30, she's 28, we do not live together, neither of us has kids, we're both pretty settled in professional-y jobs, in case any of that is helpful.
posted by ITheCosmos to Human Relations (7 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
My husband and I have been doing quarterly checkins for years and it’s awesome for us. We talk about short term and long term goals. Tbh I’m nerdy and we use mind map software to brainstorm areas and then talk about previous things we were interested in doing. We usually have brunch and talk about the lists we both bring to this.
posted by Nimmie Amee at 7:06 PM on October 3, 2017 [6 favorites]

We do this more casually/spur of the moment fairly frequently -- one of us will announce "marriage check-in!" and we'll talk about how we are feeling and so on. A more scheduled and planned discussion is probably a good idea, but when we do it we tend to talk about how each of us is doing emotionally, what issues are being a big deal in terms of work or family, and what each of us wants to be different in the near-term future.

Even doing it this casually has been really helpful, because often there are things that are worrying or bothering one person but that aren't going to come up in regular conversation. And, it's a moment that gives you the freedom to express things that are maybe embarrassing or scary to say, rather than just papering things over and moving on. Even after being married for some years, it is striking how often one person can be having a totally different experience than the other, and if you don't talk about it, you would never know.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:52 PM on October 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

if you have access to MDMA, it is fantastic for exactly this.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:59 PM on October 3, 2017 [5 favorites]

If I was 28 and in a one-year relationship with a future I would go through the most popular and most contentious baby and parenting threads here and discuss them with my partner. If we were on the same page I'd Then discuss emotional labor.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:17 PM on October 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

(if you want kids!)
posted by Room 641-A at 8:18 PM on October 3, 2017

I like Dip Flash's suggestion of "marriage check-in!" announcing and then talking about what's on your mind. For more structured stuff, especially if you're thinking about committing long term, there's definitely a few Ask Me's about what to talk to your partner about before marriage that would be super relevant here.

Also, I've never used it, but came across this "Couple Checkup" tool a while back that looks interesting and helpful.

Congrats to you for wanting to check in like this!
posted by knownassociate at 6:55 AM on October 4, 2017

I would check in on is "assumed" stances on things, including things previously discussed. In relationships people sometimes communicate a sameness in attitude in order to keep the peace or continue the relationship but it may not be the truth.
- religion (this can change.)
- babies (whether or not they want them, how many if they do, when they would want to have them, stay at home parenting, etc)
- pet ownership (what, if any, pets either of you would want)
- very frank discussion on monogamy expectations, especially considering the majority of long term relationships/marriages have to deal with infidelity at one point or another.
- what you intend to do when one (or both) of you develops an attraction to someone else. Because its going to happen.
- openness to moving should a reason arise (family emergency, job opportunity, etc).
- openness to being a long distance relationship for a while should the need arise. What would each of you need in order to feel like that situation would be survivable?
- retirement savings goals, what an ideal retirement would look like to each of you, at what age to you realistically hope to retire, etc

Basically, just discuss things you both assume you share opinions on that one (or both) of you may actually feel differently on. I actually think doing this check on all of these items on an annual basis would be a very good idea for a lot of relationships. I can say personally that after 6.5 years with my husband my stance has evolved on some of the above list.

I know I'm probably stating the obvious, but for this to work properly there has to be the rule going into this is that it is a safe time to express changing in opinions and feelings. If they have always expressed a deep seated belief in unwavering monogamy (for example) but they actually were starting to wonder about swinging or open marriages or what have you, they need to be able to communicate that honestly without fearing a huge blow up.

Also, since this recently came up in my marriage,... birthday expectations. Which birthdays are the "big" noteworthy ones (just the 10s, or are the 5's big ones too?). How much is expected to be spent on the birthday, either for gift or event or some other celebration cost. Maybe also discuss what sorts of things are the most meaningful for each of you, gift-wise.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:19 PM on October 4, 2017 [3 favorites]

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