Why we have a regular relationship check in

Netflix and Chill?

I think it is very strange that our society does not adequately prepare us for the challenges of a long term intimate relationship. Much of the relationship help is for when things have probably gone too far. Regular preventative, or maintenance, exercises are not generally considered. Cultivating open and honest conversations about how a relationship is going is not something that many couples will feel confident about. Time pressures and distractions of day to day living may also be a barrier. “Netflix and chill” is a fun activity, that can be perceived as quality time together. But does it open up a depth of conversation that will enable true understanding and empathy with your partner?

A special joint blog

This is a slightly unusual post as I am writing jointly with Mr Little Green Duckie (Mr LGD) about something personal to us, our relationship. We met in 1997, got married in 2006, and have known each other for more of our lives than we haven’t. This is quite a bit of time to experience the ups and downs of intimately sharing our lives with each other.

Our wedding 2006

Those that know us will be aware of our full and varied diaries. We recognised a number of years ago, that while this was lots of fun, we were not leaving any space, at home, for us to have meaningful time together. So “Total Chill Night” was born! A monthly evening in the diary where we would be at home, on our own, not doing life admin or work. We might cook a nice dinner, watch a movie, practice some swing dancing, relax in the bath.

The reboot

The Minimalists have often spoken / written about the value they get from regular structured relationship check ins. I realised that we were not really doing this, except on rare occasions, by accident. Our relationship is far too important to leave to accidents, or luck. Not long after this relevation a School of Life video entitled “Seven questions to restart love” popped up in my You Tube feed. Although the title sounds quite dramatic, it is actually perfect as a preventative check in tool. It became the basis of our first “Total Chill Night 2.0”.

At this first one we developed our personal manifesto for how we wanted these to work going forward.

We decided;

  • The time is for growing our relationship
  • No movies or TV. Short videos only on a relevant issue, or topic, to elicit conversation
  • We would take it in turns to choose the activity/s, or theme, of the evening
  • No phones or social media!
  • Protected time, no interruptions

The Mr LGD perspective

I think many of us find it hard to open up and be honest about our feelings and emotions. It’s not that we don’t want to, just that we have not grown up in a world where this is the norm. I’ve found it extremely beneficial to have some exercises to help me, and Mrs LGD, to explore our thoughts, and feelings, in an open and honest way. This has helped to strengthen our relationship and build on the loving foundation that we hold for each other. From a stereotypical male perspective it’s like a car MOT. There isn’t anything specific wrong, but I’m checking it’s road worthy, and making sure I deal with any possible issues before they appear. It’s definitely cheaper 😉

Inspiration

Some of the other short videos / web pages / books we have found useful so far;

School Of Life – Why love is never as nice as it should be

School of Life – The pleasure of reading in bed together

School of Life – Why “love” is a useless word – and three alternatives

School of life – Why we should treat our partners like small children

Jordan Gray – 6 Connection exercises for couples to build intimacy

Jordan Gray – 10 questions to ask to go deep in your relationship

NEW – The Course of Love by Alain de Botton – Mr LGD and I were both blown away by the insights into romantic long term relationships this book imparts in a very easy to digest way. It proved a great discussion focus for a Total Chill Night.
NEW – Weekly check in inspired by this post. Adapted to our needs as follows. We conduct our weekly finance meeting every Sunday and go through our diaries for the forthcoming week. We then take it in terns to; express gratitude / compliments to each other for the previous week (without interruption), express our needs for the week, or small things that maybe were not so good that we didn’t get to say at the time. End with hugs and kisses. This normally takes us not more than 15 mins.

It’s personal

Find what resonates with you both, and your relationship. What works for some people won’t be relevant for others. Put yourselves slightly out of your comfort zone. The important point is getting together with some protected time and finding a way to open up in a comfortable, relaxed and non judgmental way.

Let us know below any useful resources you have found, or experiences you are happy to share.

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