Last year, I appeared on the Australian morning show Sunrise to talk about the value of doing a “relationship checkup” with your spouse. After the interview, I felt a little uneasy.
I’ve written about doing an evaluation with your spouse. I’ve talked about it, and recommended it to countless others. But it had actually been four years since I had done one with my wife, Raquel. And I felt like, if I was going to go around telling others to do a checkup like this, I needed to do it more regularly. The problem is, I didn’t want to.
Why I Don’t Like it
Nobody knows me better than Raquel, and therefore, nobody can critique me more accurately than she can. Furthermore, her opinion means more to me than anyone else’s, so her criticisms are particularly hard to hear. I don’t particularly want to sit down and feel the discomfort of hearing someone tell me unflattering things that I often try to ignore.
Nonetheless, upon reflection, I recently decided to go for another round with Raquel. Here’s why: the older I get, the more I see the bad habits of my peers hardening into character flaws that undermine their ability to relate to others. I don’t want to be that guy.
The other day, Raquel and I were on a road trip, and I decided to go for it. I didn’t go through all the questions I’ve recommended in the past. Instead, I asked, “Can you tell me the top three areas where you see my character flaws getting in the way of my ability to lead and relate to others?”
I’m not going to sugarcoat the experience — it was rough, just like it was the other two times I’ve done it. And quite frankly, I didn’t want to hear it at first, but I knew I needed to. So I relaxed, took a deep breath, listened, and after she finished sharing, I restated her critiques to make sure I understood them correctly. After that, I apologized to her for the ways she had been negatively affected by my choices. And with her sitting in the car next to me, I wrapped up by praying and asking God for help in each area.
I realize I’m not going to change overnight, but I don’t want to live in a state of denial about the ways I need to grow as a man. Besides, the last two times I did this with my wife provoked some of the most positive change I’ve experienced in my adult life. I’m hoping that will happen this time around as well.
Don’t Be Stupid
I’m sure you’re just as intimidated by this exercise as I am, and I don’t blame you. This is one of the most vulnerable things you could ever do with your spouse, and vulnerability is terrifying and risky. It’s also critical for growth.
Think of it as looking into a mirror. Sure, it’s embarrassing when you first realize you’ve got dry skin on your face, crust in your eyes, and spinach jammed in your teeth. But that’s a lot better than going around looking unkempt just so you can avoid the temporary humiliation of seeing your reflection in the mirror.
As Proverbs 12:1 (NLT) says, “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” Resist stupidity and embrace correction today. It may be hard to look in the mirror initially, but it’s better to see yourself for who you are. Your spouse already does anyway; and if you take their feedback to heart, you might make some improvements that make life better for both of you.