Here in Minnesota, we have to do something called “winterizing.” If you live in a region that gets cold in the winter, you probably know what this is, but if you live somewhere that’s warm year-round, you might be saying, “Huh?”
Winterizing is basically adapting or preparing something for use in the winter. For example, you might winterize your car by replacing the wiper blades, switching to snow tires, testing the battery, and making sure you have a winter emergency kit in tow. You winterize your house by checking your furnace, sealing up drafty window and doors, and putting away the patio furniture.
The idea is that you know a new season is coming, and you’re taking proactive measures to avoid ending up in a less-than-ideal situation, such as coming out to a dead car battery in a snowstorm or paying a sky-high gas bill because the heat is literally going right out the window.
Does your relationship need winterizing? Perhaps your “winter” is a new addition to the family, or a new career, or your kids entering a busier, more demanding stage of life. How can you take stock of your relationship and prepare it for what’s to come?
To help you assess the state of your relationship and get on the same page, here are four questions to sit down and cover with your partner. Consider all areas of your relationship, including:
- your communication
- quality time, intimacy, and connection
- how you’re handling stress
- distribution of responsibilities
- managing finances
- overall satisfaction
- What’s in good condition?
- What areas of your relationship are you feeling confident about?
- What’s working well?
- In what areas are you a great team?
- How can you continue to leverage these strengths?
- What needs repair or some TLC?
- What do you need to improve, strengthen, or get better at?
- In what areas can you support each other more?
- What changes or adjustments would you like to make?
- What are practical steps to making those changes happen?
- What needs to be replaced or upgraded?
- What’s not working?
- What is causing stress, conflict, or burnout?
- What areas feel out of balance?
- Are there areas you’ve been avoiding dealing with? What has made you hesitant?
- Where do you foresee problems?
- What are you worried about?
- Where is there uncertainty?
- Are there areas where you feel like you’re not on the same page?
- What is your plan for handling issues that arise?
We’re big proponents of the daily check in, but it can be beneficial to zoom out a bit and look ahead to acknowledge and prepare for the coming. If it’s hard to imagine preparing for a long, cold winter, think of it as similar to the concept of premarital counseling – instead of bolstering the relationship skills that will help you in the long-term throughout your marriage, you’re taking stock and preparing for a season within your marriage. The goal of both are also the same – avoid irreparable damage down the road by building skills and resilience today.
If it’s been a year or more since you took the Prepare/Enrich assessment and you’d like to get a spot-on snapshot of the exact state of your relationship, consider reaching out to your Facilitator to take the assessment again or opt for the DIY version, Couple Checkup. The Discussion Guide for Couples makes the perfect do-it-from-home companion to both assessments. Not feeling an assessment? No worries – you can use it on its own to “winterize” your relationship during your next date night.