Annual Performance Reviews for Marriages?
Can They Prevent Divorce?
Elizabeth and John Edwards. Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren. Kate and Jon Gosselin. Sandra Bullock and Jesse James. The
media bombards us with stories every day of infidelity and revenge during and after divorce. These battles are between husbands and wives who at one time loved each other and committed to support each other until “death do us part.” Why do more than 50% of marriages crumble into dust? And why do so many divorces end up in fierce court battles? What can be done to prevent divorce?
Maybe we have unrealistic expectations on what it takes to nurture a relationship. So many long-married couples take each other for granted and co-exist in sheer boredom. They stopped communicating many years ago, so every unspoken minor irritation adds to the plaque of an already calcified communication channel. Gradually, they drift apart and grow in different directions. They no longer share their hopes, dreams, and joys with each other. They only talk about shallow everyday stuff. They just co-exist until one day, one of them gets energized by someone else. It might start with very innocent flirting, and next thing you know, the hormones are raging full blast. And you know what happens after that. By that time, it’s often too late to rebuild the marriage. Mutual trust is long gone. So how can we save relationships while there’s still a chance to recover and prevent divorce?
Most of us know that in the business world, well managed companies have annual performance review processes. Some have reviews on a more frequent basis. When done well, performance reviews are candid, humane, and inspiring discussions between a manager and employee, intended to motivate the employee to improve communication, performance and loyalty. Sometimes “360 degree” feedback from peers, customers, and direct reports are included in the discussion. Goals, results, and mutual expectations are discussed. By “checking in” on a regular basis, any cracks in the foundation can be identified and corrected before any further damage happens.
If having a regular “check-in” helps companies perform well, why do we expect marriages to last 20-30 years without having a regular “check-in” process? Why don’t we consider institutionalizing an annual performance review for our marriages, or some other periodic process to prompt a husband and wife to re-assess their level of satisfaction with their marriage? If dissatisfaction is caught early, there’s a greater chance of recovery and rebuilding the marriage. And then maybe we have a real opportunity to prevent marital breakdowns and divorce.
What do you think? We would love to hear from you.