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A formal evaluation can help a couple set goals, affirm what works and avoid entrenched conflict

“It’s the relationship equivalent of the six-month dental checkup,” says James Cordova, professor of psychology and director of the Center for Couples and Family Research at Clark University, in Worcester, Mass.

This isn’t an exercise to be taken lightly. Couples have to be careful, and constructive, when sharing their assessments. Fairness is crucial. And for couples in a relationship crisis, a performance review is unlikely to help.

The researchers, who followed up with the couples after one and two years, found those who had performed the checkup saw significant improvements in their relationship satisfaction, intimacy and feelings of acceptance by their partner, as well as a decrease in depressive symptoms, compared with the couples in the control group who didn’t perform a checkup. In addition, the couples who had the most problems in their marriage before the checkup saw the most improvement.

Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks, relationship coaches, psychologists and authors of multiple books on marriage, who have been married 34 years and live in Ojai, Calif., schedule informal discussions with each other every Tuesday and Thursday, where they talk about problems or conflicts that have arisen in the past few days. In one recent discussion, Dr. Hendricks told his wife he has been feeling “left out” because she has been traveling so much for work lately, and she assured him that her schedule was going to lighten up soon.

“It gives us a safe, sure place to talk about our emotions,” says his wife, also Dr. Hendricks, who is 67.

Read the full article: http://www.wsj.com/articles/a-performance-review-may-be-good-for-your-marriage-1444068231

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