Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Marriage Review System

My husband's and my wedding anniversary is tomorrow. We've been married for four years, though we've been a couple for more than eleven, so the four years doesn't feel very long in that context. In those eleven years, we've been tested by difficult situations, and found we were stronger together than we were separately. We've experienced good news and new adventures, and found we were happier sharing those things with each other. We've laughed much more than we've argued, and we've never stopped respecting and being proud of each other. I've always been certain that, though we are very different people, Nick is my perfect match, my balance, my soulmate, if you will. (Or Sowul mate, one of my favorite twists on our last name.)

I think a lot about relationships in general, so it's not strange that I spend time trying to decipher what makes our marriage good, and how to keep it that way. This year, Nick, as a New York State public school teacher, has been required to do an Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) that evaluates and grades his teaching performance. This new evaluation system seems to be attempting to make a school more like a private corporation, as I assume most employees at corporations have to do yearly performance reviews. I don't object to them; I think evaluating one's work is important to professional growth. (I do object to how teachers are being evaluated, as they have much less control over their product- a child's capacity for learning- than a corporation has over the quality of their bicycles or tax preparations or what-have-you. But that's another post.)

Americans are great at putting systems in place to evaluate people in the workplace. But no one's ever suggested that we should similarly be evaluating our personal relationships. This would, of course, have to be a voluntary thing, but I think it's a great idea. Americans have more success sticking to careers than they do to marriages. If we gave ourselves yearly evaluations, maybe we would have more happy marriages. At the very least, we would all be more aware of, and in tune with, our personal relationships.

We could call it the M.R.S. Marriage Review System. (Get it? The Mrs.?)

Each evaluation would have to be unique to the couple, of course. Some would prefer to have a simple discussion; others might want to answer a series of questions. A simple jumping-off point might be to ask your spouse, "Are you happy?"

I'm not a relationship expert, of course. But if you find this thought even a little intriguing, talk to your spouse about it. An anniversary is a good time to think about whether you're happy with where you are and in what direction you're headed.

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