The Spousal Performance Review

I’ve written a few times about the book Spousonomics, which came out earlier this year. As I was poking around on their blog recently, I came across a fascinating entry called “My Performance Review.” Paula Szuchman wrote that her husband was about to give her a review on her performance as a wife over the previous year.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation? As I got to thinking about it, I started pondering what I would say in a spousal performance review, and what my spouse might say about me. The concept has a lot going for it. For one, it might force people to behave in an adult fashion when talking about what they expect from a spouse. Rather than stew about the way one party takes the garbage out or interacts with the children, you’d talk it through. It would clear up misconceptions. One of the most telling parts of Alisa Bowman’s memoir, Project: Happily Ever After, was her statement that while she thought her marriage rated quite low on a 1-10 scale — let’s say she’d give it a 2 — her husband thought it was closer to the 8 range. Just as with a job review, a spousal performance review would make it clear whether you had completely opposite views from your spouse about how things were going. Ideally, both parties — upon receiving their reviews — would identify “action items” to pursue in the hopes of getting better reviews next time. Maybe you’d even build in incentives.

So what would you say in a spousal performance review? What do you think your spouse would say about you?

4 thoughts on “The Spousal Performance Review

  1. That sounds a little intimidating! Although it would be a good opportunity for each of you to bring up any minor issues that bother you, but otherwise seem to little to talk about. I think it would be a more interesting exercise if you actually had a set of questions or a form or something, so you’d be forced to think about various aspects of your marriage. When we did our pre-cana (pre-marriage counseling, he’s Catholic), we had this booklet to fill out with all sorts of questions about money, children, religion, sex, free time, chores, etc. I thought we had pretty much talked through everything, but when we were doing that I realized that there were some things we glossed over because we weren’t comfortable discussing them in detail.

    These days we do a “how are you feeling / how do you think things are going / is there anything we should change” sort of check-in once a month or so, which works well for us. One day it might be a good idea to do a more formal marriage retreat or review where we really talk about everything. Maybe for our 20th anniversary. For now, with two young kids at home, I feel like we should use the rare time we have to focus on each other to just relax and have fun.

  2. Here are some basic questions I came across in a book by Dennis Rainey. Written about Husbands/Fathers stepping up and being a “Man”. They hit the heart of the emotional side of things for sure. I did ask my wife these questions during a weekend we had away and I have some very good things to work on now! 🙂 They can of course be asked of a husband also…

    1. What could I do to make you feel more loved?
    2. What could I do to make you feel more respected?
    3. What could I do to make you feel more understood?
    4. What could I do to make you more secure?
    5. What could I do to make you feel more confident in our future?
    6. What attribute would you like me to develop?
    7. What attribute would you like me to help you develop?
    8. What achievement in my life would bring you the greatest joy?
    9. What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christlike?
    10. What mutual goal would you like to see us accomplish?

    1. @Chad – I like these questions! And that’s wonderful that you and your wife were able to take a weekend away and talk about these things. I think all of us could benefit from doing that…

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