Relationship problems can be truly difficult, and one month of mindfully working on these issues isn’t usually enough.

I know Eva and I have recurring issues that we need to work on, skills that we need to improve, methods that need to be adjusted. And so we’re starting a new system that I think is going to help, and I’m going to share it with you just to give you an idea to consider.

Eva and I have a great marriage, full of love and intimacy, but it’s definitely not perfect. No relationship is perfect. Our issue is that when conflicts come up, we don’t always deal with them that well. We don’t yell or get violent or anything, but sometimes we don’t communicate well or resolve the issue in a productive way.

So we’re adapting the Habit Sprint model for improvement: we’re going to meet each week and review how we did that week, and if we had any issues in the past week, come up with potential solutions to try out next time problems come up.

We’re calling this the Getting Kick-Ass at Our Marriage Method.

It’s a method of continual improvement, so that eventually we’ll be truly kick-ass at our relationship. Let’s look at the details.

The Getting Kickass at Relationships Method

Here’s how it works:

  1. Look at what you need to work on — for us, it’s how we handle conflicts.
  2. Come up with a short written plan for how to do it. Example: Let ourselves cool off for 5 minutes, then talk about the problem, assuming the other person has good intentions, and find a way to resolve it so that we’re both happy.
  3. Implement the method.
  4. Each week (for us, it’s 4pm every Sunday), have a review meeting. We decided to take a walk every Sunday and enjoy the time together, as we review.
  5. Review how you did the past week, and how the plan went. If there were obstacles that caused the plan to fail, those are excellent, because they help you improve your plan. Come up with potential solutions to the obstacles, and add one of them to the plan to try out for next time.
  6. Have a big consequence for not doing the weekly review meeting, because it’s really important that you do this. For us, it’s a weeklong ban from coffee, which is a big deal for us. Pinky swear to uphold this consequence.

We’re just trying this out now, but I believe this method will work over the long run. If we review our method weekly (and we will, because we don’t want to miss out on our coffee), then we will find ways to get better at our relationship skills. New problems will come up, and we’ll find ways to improve so that we address those problems better. Some solutions won’t work so well, but we’ll figure that out over time and eventually find solutions that do work.

This isn’t a quick-fix method, but a continual, gradual improvement method.

Also, we’ve committed to reading two books that were recommended by a couple friends:

  1. His Needs, Her Needs – this seems slightly outdated, but there’s some truth here and it’s good to think about these issues.
  2. Difficult Conversations – I’ve read most of this book and it’s truly excellent, highly recommended for everyone.