Originally posted on Bustle
Everyone knows that communication is important in a long-term relationship. Taking the time to check in with each other, chat to each other, and being able to express how you’re feeling and what you need makes your relationship so much easier. Problems get dealt with — rather than brewing into something terrible — and you can both rest easier knowing that you’re on the same page. But for some couples, it may be helpful to go deeper. Dr. Pepper Schwartz, PhD, AARP Love and Relationship Ambassador, suggests that an annual checkup may be perfect for long-term relationships. If you’ve been together a long time, it’s easier to let the smaller things slide, to start to assume you know what’s going on with another person. But that’s dangerous, because it can lead to complacency.
“Just as your car needs to be tuned periodically, every relationship needs to be recharged now and then,” Dr. Schwartz tells Bustle. “Couples who have been together for a year or longer can benefit from a relationship checkup. After the initial days and nights of your relationship when you couldn’t keep your hands off each other, everyday life takes over. It’s so common for couples who work hard or have a busy social calendar to let a weekend slip by without being intimate.”
So here’s what you should bring up in an annual checkup to keep your relationship going strong:
1. The State Of Your Relationship
Firstly, use the opportunity to take stock on how your relationship is going. “Important topics to raise together as a couple are things like, ‘When was the last time we went on a date?’, or ‘How long has it been since one of us surprised the other with something nice — just because?’,” Dr. Schwartz says. “A relationship checkup includes everything from how each partner feels about the level of intimacy in the relationship to whether they feel heard or understood by their partner — especially in bed.”
2. Your Sex Life
Speaking of bed, sex is definitely something you should have on the list. It’s something that can slide in a long-term relationship. Now, there’s not a “right” amount of sex to be having — that all depends on you and your partner — but you need to check in to make sure both of you are feeling satisfied and that you’re having a good amount of sex for you as a couple, whatever that might be. It’s also a good time to bring up fantasies or anything new you’d like to try in bed.
3. Happiness Levels
Don’t forget that one of the most important parts of a relationship is that it should make you happy. When we get caught up in our life goals and responsibilities, it’s easy to move away from that basic point. Don’t let that happen— make sure you’re checking in how happy you both are.
4. What You Can Do Better
Nobody’s perfect. If you open yourself up to constructive criticism, you may find that there’s something your partner needs but isn’t getting. Just by asking “How can I help you?” or “What do you need that you’re not getting?” may lead to some small changes you didn’t even know you had to make.
5. The Future
Your goals are important. Both your goals as a couple and your separate goals as people. Make sure that you’re both aware of what the other wants and needs in the future and that you’re doing what you can to help the other one get there.
Money conversations can be really awkward — but they’re really important. It’s one of the areas where we’re so likely to want to bury our head in the sand and pretend everything is fine. But it’s crucial to face the numbers and make sure that you’re both on track for your financial goals.
7. Any Relationship Baggage
Maybe you always fight about the same thing, or maybe one of you got caught in a big lie. But once whatever issue you’ve had is buried, you need to let the past stay in the past. But it’s also important, if the wound is still fresh, to check in and make sure you’re both getting over it.
No matter how much you work on your relationship, it never hurts to touch base. Especially if you’ve been together forever, having an annual tune-up can work wonders.