For many businesses, the end of the year is usually spent producing financial reports and reviewing business operations. Every business has unmet goals and blind spots, as does every marriage. Doing a SWOT and performance review can help you revisit relationship goals, acknowledge weaknesses, develop a strategy to deal with obstacles, and extinguish threats before they become insurmountable.
In a previous article, I wrote about how my husband and I have regular business-like meetings to go over our “relationship” key performance indicators (KPIs). These meetings, I feel, are just as important as having regular “date nights”.
Businesses need to know whether they are meeting their goals, operating in line with their mission, maintaining solvency and profitability, and meeting the needs of their stakeholders. And that is no different than how relationships operate.
The year-end is usually when we have our longest and most comprehensive meeting. This is because we give ourselves and each other a performance review. Let me tell you that although we have done this for more than a decade, it still frightens me.
It’s like going to the dentist or doctor for a regular check-up. You know it’s a good idea, but thoughts like “oh god, what if they find something and the process of dealing with it is painful?” always creep up in the back of your mind.
We also revisit our ongoing SWOT analysis, where we identify and discuss our relationship Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This analysis is one of the most commonly used strategies for businesses. Chances are you’ve done one in school or at your place of employment, but probably have never applied it to personal matters.
They’re quite useful, but like performance reviews, they need to be honest and self-reflective, and that’s what makes them intimidating.
Why Do Them If They Are So Uncomfortable?
If the thought of doing a SWOT and performance review on your relationship makes you squirm, why do them in the first place?
In a study called “The Marriage Checkup: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Annual Relationship Health Checkups”, couples who performed such assessments saw significant improvements in their “relationship satisfaction, intimacy, and [feelings of] acceptance” as compared to a control group (who did not do the marital checkup). The study followed these couples for two years. Couples who had the most problems in their marriage before the checkup saw the most improvement.
There are rules on how to properly conduct these assessments. Just like arguments about money, the main focus cannot be attacks on the other person’s character. Rather, the discussion should be about behaviours, how certain actions make you feel, and how to solve problems and move forward in the best possible way. Done properly, these reviews and analyses can help to identify problems, reframe goals, and implement solutions. The ultimate goal, of course, is to reconnect and deepen the bond between you and your partner.
There have been many unfavourable trends in Singapore (and worldwide) in the recent past. A rise in mental health issues, loneliness, divorce, financial and marital difficulties, etc. Most people tend to separate “relationship problems” from “health problems” or “financial problems”. Even policy makers tend to undervalue the effects relationships have on health, finances, and society as a whole.
The first line of the aforementioned study states it clearly:
Relationship health is a public health issue.”
There are substantial mental and physical health costs resulting from relationship distress and deterioration. And of course, there are also serious financial costs. So along with reviewing your financial or health goals, this New Year, do set aside time to review your marital goals.
Happy New Year!