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Improve Marriage With A Performance Evaluation?

improve-marriageMarital Performance Evaluations – What Would Your Rating Be?

Could you improve marriage with a performance evaluation?  It’s that time of year.  Time for Performance Reviews… The time we look back at the past 12 – 18 months, talk about how well or how bad we did at our jobs and shamelessly plead for a raise.

This got me thinking… What if we were evaluated in other areas of our lives?  What if we were evaluated by our wives on how well we did as a husband?

This very thought struck fear into my heart.  The very kind of fear associated with that dream we’ve all had about showing up for the final exam after skipping class for a semester.

I began to ask myself if I would exceed expectations?  Barely meet expectations? Or come up on the Needs Improvement list?

I am not advocating that either spouse do a rating of each other (for those of you ready to fire off an email to me on the topic). I am simply asking what if you went after improving your marriage with the gusto we seem to for that next promotion?

What if we put our heart, soul, and extra hours into our marriages.

Would things in your relationship be different?  How would you rate yourself?  What are the metrics for a good relationship with your spouse?

Improve Marriage With The Gift of Feedback

We have all had both good and bad performance evaluations in our time.  Mostly bad if I’m honest.  To be clear, I am not talking about the rating.  Here I am talking about how the evaluations were carried out.  The fact is, most managers and leaders are not trained to give or receive helpful feedback.

Hopefully, you can remember at least one person (doesn’t matter if it’s a manager or not) that gave you uncomfortable, but necessary feedback.  My guess is that person was on the front end of a major shift in your life.  In my experience, each time I have been open to constructive feedback I have grown tremendously.

Feedback is a gift. When we withhold it or mistreat it we send a message to the recipient.  That message is, “You are not worth it.”  When we give feedback well and do it in good timing we also send a message.  “You are worth it and I give a damn about you enough to tell you that you are messing things up.”

Metrics & What Should Be Reviewed

Wondering how I would be reviewed, I had this crazy thought…  There are no “numbers” to review to improve your marriage.  You don’t “improve performance by 3%” on listening.  That means you would have to put your money where your mouth is via Process Goals.

An example would be when you have a greater goal to have the best-looking yard in the neighborhood.  The process goal would be, I will mow my grass weekly, put out lawn food monthly, and water on an every other day schedule rain or shine.

The process goal can be measured by whether it was done or not.  Turning that to our marriages, we could have process goals to improve marriage like:

  • Pursuing our spouse romantically daily
  • Communicating on schedules, commitments, and changes weekly
  • Money management conversations monthly

Pursuing Your Spouse Romantically

The process goal to improve our marriage by pursuing our spouse might look like this…

Each day I will put away my phone, TV, or other distractions and ask my wife to tell me about her day or her struggles or her dreams… and listen.

A core human need is to be heard.  Doing this one thing each day can be the catalyst for a rebirth of romance.  No flowers.  No spa gifts.  Just uninterrupted listening.  Just for the record, I would get a C-.  That is convicting.


Communicating on schedules, commitments, and changes to both would yield me a flat B.  I try, but there is a lot going on.  Sometimes I just flat mess this up.  Which brings up a solid point.  You are going to screw this up sometimes.

Set the groundwork with your spouse up front. “When one of us gets this wrong, this is how we will respond.”  Knowing the agreed response helps everyone in that awful moment when you have kids committed to being in different counties for sports and you are stuck at work for another hour because you forgot to plan well.

Money Management

The greater goal of money management may be Save $1 Million Dollars (insert Dr. Evil meme here) for Disney.  It does seem to cost that much to go (so worth it though).  The process goal may be to cut back on other expenses.

Our family will only go out to eat no more than once every two weeks.  That’s a goal that can help you save a lot of money.  You can also measure whether you stuck to it or not.

The What & The How

One of the best things I have gleaned from my years as a leader doing performance evaluations is the idea of the “What” and the “How”.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul calls this the Letter of the Law vs. the Spirit of the Law in Romans.

If you are going through the trouble of identifying the areas that need attention in your relationship with your spouse, DO NOT JUST CHECK THE BOX.

To gain real results in anything you do, you MUST put your whole heart into it.  That is the “How”.  The “What” is just the box.

Just the What
“Well, I asked her every day about her day.  She said, ‘It was fine.’ and then ignored me.  That is focusing on just the ‘What’.”

Adding the How
The “How” looks like this…  “I came in each day and asked her to tell me about her day.  At first, she didn’t know what to do, but I became curious about her different emotions.  I stayed with it.  Now when I come home, I show her I am serious by disconnecting from the world for the first 10 minutes I’m home.  I face her, ask her to tell me about her day, and I listen with my eyes locked on hers.”

See the difference? She will.

How to Exceed Expectations

The fact that you are wrapping up this article means you care.  The hard part now is translating that care into commitment.  Remember, you are an awesome leader.  One who takes initiative.  A person that creates impact for good.  You’ve got this!  If you need some inspiration, download the 101 Ways To Be A Better Man.

Write down three things you want to work on with your spouse.  Now cross off the two that can wait.  Focus on the one that is left by writing out how you want the future to look.  “I want to rekindle a spark with my wife.” or “I want us to re-get-to-know each other.”  Both valid.

Now create the process goal that invests in her emotional, spiritual, or physical well being.  This process goal cannot be to change your wife.  The only person you have the ability to change is yourself.

Finally, follow through on your daily, weekly, and monthly commitments.  Your wife is not going to hand you a performance evaluation, thank God.  You can evaluate your own, though.  Take time to take stock.  Then do something about it.

Ryan McKinney

Ryan McKinney

Ryan is a leadership coach, sought after speaker, and transformational workshop facilitator. He works with highly successful business leaders to develop discipline, enhance leadership, and build confidence so they can enjoy the success they deserve without giving up what they want most.

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