A surprising way to keep your marriage happy: Annual performance reviews

There are rules to how you do a performance assessment: couples must address behavior, not character (this is not a free-for-all bitch session); explain yourself, empathize, be consistent and identify what you want to change. Designed properly, a review neutralizes the emotions of day-to-day fights (who didn’t take out the trash) in an attempt to frame goals (let’s share the housework), recognize issues (we are not sharing the chores) and implement solutions (let’s get the kids to do it!).
The main problem with marriage counseling is couples wait too long to go. Things are great until they are not. Things are said and damage gets done. John Gottman, the genius marriage guru, says couples need to minimize “regrettable incidents” or the things you say about her mother that can never be taken back.

New couples tend to be overconfident. In one survey of 137 people who had recently applied for a marriage license in Virginia, most said they were aware that more than half of marriages end in divorce but put the likelihood of them getting divorced at zero. Those couples will look at a performance review and ask why they need to fix a problem that does not exist. Guess what people: more than half of marriages end in divorce.