The Secret to Sustainable Relationships
Communication is a delicate thing. If you’re at the start of a new relationship, it can feel awkward to speak honestly and vulnerably. If you’re in a well-established, long-term relationship, it can be challenging and intimidating to break old habits and change the way you communicate with your partner. Regardless of where you’re at in your relationships, communication is vital, and yet human beings often totally suck at it.
This page will walk you through one of our favorites: our monthly relationship maintenance check-in format, otherwise known as R.A.D.A.R.
First, let’s go over some fundamentals. A good relationship check-in:
Happens on a regular basis. (Monthly, weekly, etc)
Establishes a safe space for talking about uncomfortable topics
Follows a set formula
Can be done even when things are feeling good
Why have a regular check-in at all? Why not just talk about things as they come up, like normal people do?
The good news is that even if you have a regularly established relationship check-in, you can still talk about things organically. In addition, a regular safe space for communication helps to bring up topics to discuss them before they turn into full-blown problems. This enables to you to minimize day-to-day admin and processing while at the same time maximizing positive, non-processing time with your partner. It also prevents “problem back-log” from building up until someone has to explode and unleash all their grievances at once.
Now let’s go through the steps!
For this first step, you’re going to sit down with your partner and review the past month (or whatever period of time it’s been since your last check-in). It can be helpful to take a look at your calendar and just see what happened in the past month. At this stage, you’re not discussing or processing yet, so just stick to the facts. If you’ve had a RADAR before, this is the stage where you’ll also review past action points.
Examples: I went out on that first date. We got into an argument about chores. I had my hours increased at work. We discovered this new kinky thing to try in bed, etc.
2. Agree the Agenda
After reviewing the past month, decide the agenda of what you’ll discuss. We have come up with a list of set topics. We recommend that you talk about each one of these topics, even if there aren’t any problems in that arena. You can also customize the list by dropping topics that aren’t relevant to your relationship or adding new ones that are.
Quality Time - Sex - Health - Other Partners - Fights/Arguments - Money - Work/Projects - Travel - Family - Household - Miscellaneous
You can take a listen to the episode for more detailed explanations of each topic.
This step is self-explanatory. Go through the agenda with your partner. You can choose to cover more urgent or important-feeling topics first, or you can just go down the list from top to bottom. Remember to discuss each topic regardless of whether there are any problems in that arena.
The discussion phase can hit many different emotional points -- from laughing and joking with each other to sharing difficult or painful feelings. This is normal! Compassion, empathy, and active listening will help you here. If things are getting heated, it’s okay to take a quick break to cool off before coming back to it.
4. Action Points
As you and your partner discuss, you may decide to incorporate tangible and achievable action points. We’ve all experienced discussing a difficult situation with a partner, only to have nothing change. Action points insure that you’re both taking steps forward on solving disconnects and continuing to invest in your relationship. They’re also a great way to experiment with temporary solutions to recurring problems.
Examples: After discussing the argument we had about household chores, we decided to try spending the next month with one person responsible for planning and cooking meals and the other person being responsible for handling the dishes. After a month, we’ll check in again and see how that division of labor feels.
Not every topic will necessarily need an action point. When you have your next RADAR, go back and review your action points from the last session. Did they get accomplished? Why or why not? What might the next action point be?
You made it to the end of the RADAR! Now it’s time to congratulate yourselves for all the hard work you’ve done. Find a way to re-connect with your partner and end the session on a positive note. You might take turns appreciating and giving specific compliments to each other. You could transition into a fun activity that you can share together. Massages, cuddles, and sex are great for this!
Ready to try it?
Download and print our PDF template here: Multiamory-RADAR-Template.pdf
Prefer Google Docs? Save a copy of our Google Doc Template here: Multiamory RADAR Template -Google Docs