Why I did a 3-month performance review for my wife

After 3 months of marriage, I decided to have a performance review with my wife. You heard it right, a performance review. I let her know what she was doing well as a wife, and what she needed to improve on. Before you write me off as a chauvinistic jerk (which at times I can be), my wife did the same for me. It was a mutual process. And it was very helpful for strengthening our marriage.

When we got married almost 4 years ago, Olive and I understood that we wouldn’t be very good at marriage at first. It was new to us. I’ve never been a husband before. She’s never been a wife. We’re going to make mistakes and that’s okay. We wanted to get better and learn together.

So we agreed that 3 months into our marriage, we would have a performance review for each other (we didn’t call it that because it sounds too business-like, but essentially that’s what it was). It would be similar to a 3-month performance review you receive in a new job. There would be feedback, comments on things done well, suggestions for ways to improve, questions asked, and time to develop goals for the future. But unlike a 3-month job review, no one was going to be fired from the marriage, no matter how poorly they performed. We were committed to each other for life. The only option we had was to work on our marriage and improve.

We set aside a weekend to do this “performance review” and to make it special, we booked a local Bed and Breakfast to “get away”. We went out for a nice dinner and then started talking about our marriage so far and how it was going.

These are some of the questions we asked each other:

  • What were the most enjoyable times we’ve had together so far?
  • Is there any unresolved conflict in our marriage?
  • Is there anything that you are angry with me for?
  • Are you satisfied with our sex life and what can we do to make it better?
  • What are some date night ideas for the next 3 months?
  • What can I do as your wife/husband to serve and love you better?

It takes humility to ask how you can improve as a husband/wife. And it takes courage to tell your spouse what your needs are. The conversation we had was not easy and at times awkward, but ultimately it was good for our marriage.

It’s important to set time aside to have these conversations. You would think that because Olive and I live together that we have plenty of time to talk about these things. But it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of each day. Having a “performance review” allows us to take a step back, look at the big picture, and make adjustments.

That evening (and the next morning) we didn’t just talk about our marriage, we also did a review of other aspects of our lives. We talked about the important relationships in our life (family and friends), our work life, our finances/budget, our home, our health, and our church life/volunteering commitments.

This has become a regular day for us. We call it a “blue day”. It’s a day to do blue sky dreaming. We look back at the past and evaluate, but also envision our future and plan the next steps we need to take to get there. In our first two years of marriage, we had a blue day every three months. Now we have it every six months. We really like that these blue days have become a ritual for us because it allows Olive and I to be intentional about the way we live our lives.

Photo via (cc) Flickr Robert Cheaib