NIGHTLY CHECK-IN - The complete GUIDE
After reading instructions, click here to go to the Nightly Check-In
A forum for getting to know each other (Revive the "Chit Chat" cells in your brain).
A forum for gentle, loving, consistent, Issues management.
"The nightly check-in is the tool that got us where we are. At first it's really hard. It's awkward. You don't have much to talk about. But now I crave it. It's like a reset button for our marriage." - Anonymous - (Path of Peace Participant, on the verge of divorce at our first meeting)
Note: Don't get overwhelmed by this page! Use as inspired. Anything is better than nothing. Do whatever you both feel good about. Everything on this page can be done in as little time 5 to 10 minutes- Longer, of course, is much better.
Important note: Nightly Check In & Chit Chat can look however you’d. Every couple is different. IF IN DOUBT, follow the program just as it is. As you go on, you may want to adapt some of this into your own, unique, nightly rituals.
1) Do not make requests of your spouse during your Relationship Cleanse unless they are clearly just operational requests i.e. “Could you pick up the laundry on the way home from work?”
2) Rather than randomly ambushing your spouse throughout the day, hold all issues for your Nightly Check-In . You cannot believe what holding your issues will create in your marriage.
3) Until you actually start enjoying your Nightly Check-In, start each walk (or visit) with “I’m thankful we're doing this.”
4) Ideally, the initial part of your nightly process is best done on a walk, at least 10 minutes a night. Worse case scenario, you can do the entire process (everything on this page) in as little as 5 to 10 minutes, while brushing your teeth or making herbal tea together.
Optional Couple Care and/or Extra Reading is best done in a secluded room in your home.
STEP BY STEP
1) Someone just starts! i.e. "So Honey, what was the best part of your day?" (or whatever question you'd like to ask from below)
2) Whoever starts, continues interviewing for as long as both are willing (See Sharing Positives and Sharing Breakthroughs below). Each interview takes between 1 to 10 minutes based on conversation that may spring up along the way.
3) Whoever is doing the interview finally gets to Sharing Issues (below) and chooses one of the 3 options.
4) After first interview completes with Sharing Issues, change directions for the other interview.
a) Make sure both of you are interviewed. Make sure both of you are attentive to each other's answers, validating and encouraging vs. just getting this done and checking it off your list. This is a wonderful opportunity to be fully present to your spouse when he or she is speaking.
b) Chit Chat, to some degree, is built into the Sharing Positives and Sharing Breakthroughs but can include anything you want, before or after asking any of these questions! Scroll down for sharing positives & sharing breakthroughs
Consider taking your nightly routine even further by adding extra reading and/or Couple Care.
Couple Care means taking turns with back rubs, foot rubs etc. You can do the Couple Care with or without the extra reading, or visa versa. If reading, consider reading or listening to and talking about uplifting concepts and content. Always remember however, that whatever you read is for YOU, not your spouse.
Suggested reading: 1) Hold Me Tight, 2) Bonds that Make Us Free 3) Any talk by Steven Furtick or Joel Osteen on Youtube
4) 7 Habits etc. Note: Extra reading and conversation about uplifting content is powerful just by itself (with or without foot rubs or back rubs). With this in mind, please do what you both feel good about!
Couple Care - If you do opt for Couple Care, set a timer for 5 minutes, twice. While one reads and sort of conducts the conversation, the other gives him or her a foot rub, back rub, arm tickling, hair brushing etc.
Now that you get what it’s all about… click here to go to NIGHTLY CHECK-IN or you could read even more below.
OTHER HELPFUL NOTES
1) Close to the Heart
Especially during a Relationship Cleanse, if an interview question seems to be leading to an interpersonal issue, person answering interview questions should be careful to stay "close to the heart." Keep to your raw, inner experience. Talk about yourself, not you partner.
Example of the direction not to go: Husband asks, "What's a breakthrough you had today?" Wife answers: "I've realized how much more affection I need." Ideally, you of course wouldn't want to say this in a Nightly Check In & Chit Chat. This is heavy enough that it would be better for a Love Seat or Peace-Talk.
But if this kind of statement is made by someone, his or her spouse would not want to say, "Well, don't I give you enough hugs and kisses? I've always thought you were very happy in that area. It just doesn't matter how hard I try, does it" and so on.
Example of the right direction (pulling up the nose on a plane that's going down): Husband asks, "What's a breakthrough you had today?" Wife answers: "I've realized how much more affection I need." Husband, after checking in on the level of his own emotional space (see Managing Incoming), could say "Tell more about what you're feeling” and/or “I want to know more about what's going on about this with you" or something like that. Wife then shares her inner world- not her disappointment with her husband. You can work out an agreement on affection now or later, but at this point, listening (option 1 in Managing Incoming) is the focus.
Back to the wife. Wife, keep your share close to your heart, not your husbands poor performance "Well, I think I've actually felt this my entire life. It's like I just want to be held all day or something. And I'm not sure if it's a physical thing, or emotional or what etc." Husband continues to listen, reflect back what he's hearing and perhaps ask more questions that would lead him into a deeper understanding of his wife.
2) Love Seat is for big, touchy issues. Peace Talk is for medium issues. One of the purposes of Nightly Check-In is for smaller issues.
3) After your Relationship Cleanse If you have a bigger issue that you don't think can wait until your Weekly inventory, you could give your spouse heads up sometime during the day to make sure he or she is alright with you doing it at Nightly Check-In.
4) Making of a request of yourself can be a game changer in your relationship. Go for this (option b in “Sharing Issues” as much as you sincerely can).
a) A request from your spouse, when the emotional bank account is low between you tends to make you feel shamed or not good enough. On the other hand, sensing what your spouse's issues or needs are and making a request of yourself eliminates shame and assures your spouse that you care.
b) Without shame and with the initiative on this issue coming from you vs. him or her, you have opened up emotional space and positive energy needed to actually do what you've requested of yourself.
5) If receiving a request, if inspired, you can:
a) Request clarification
Spouse can ask for clarification i.e if your spouse asks you to be more excited when he comes home you could ask, "Could you tell me more about how that would look for you? What specifically would you really like me to say or do?"
b) Request Rehearsal (taking the above idea even further) i.e. "Honey, would you mind if we rehearsed a couple of scenarios. I want to walk myself through the right path on this thing” etc. (See your coach about this).
6) Requests for apology and/or restitution can be an option for your "U.S.A." request after you have gotten through your Relationship Cleanse.
Notes on interview questions in “Sharing Breakthroughs”:
**The "Fear" question. Fully facing a way that we chose fear vs. love, seems to melt the fear.
**The "Vision" question - Saying what we want or see for our life tends to bring it into existence and to open our hearts.
**In general be tuned in, compassionate and supportive when listening to your companion vs. blaming or condemning.
After sharing issues, if you'd like, you can return to more sharing and chit-chat, see below.
ADDITIONAL CHIT-CHAT OPTIONS
Chit Chat can be anything you want that is non-issue oriented i.e. talk about the kids, work, dreams, sports, politics, weather, neighbors etc. The "Sharing Positives" and Sharing "Breakthroughs" is usually enough to run with. For more "Chit Chat" consider the following.
a) "Get to Know You" Questions
Pick an open ended question or two from our list or just come up with your own. Click here for our lists: Extra Chit Chat Questions.
b) Healthy, personal venting (sometimes called a “stream of consciousness”)
Chit chat can be anything from light stuff i.e. highlights of the day to deeper stuff i.e. fears you've been experiencing (not related to your relationship). If you are going to share fears, conundrums, struggles etc. try to conclude what you share with your commitments- addressing who you really are and what you are going to do about it, even if it’s just “I know that God is able to show me a way out of this. I’m going to meditate on this. I know I can arrive on some great solutions.” This will a) keep you from cycling and b) keep your spouse from offering solutions, which usually isn't a good idea anyway, unless you're asking.
It is important, even during Chit Chat to not cut each other off. If someone's on a role, let him or her go! It’s also important that if one partner chooses to share some deeper feelings that he or she assures her partner that there is absolutely no implication or blame toward him about this issue.
As inspired, the partner listening may want to mirror and validate (i.e. “what I hear you saying is __________”) and/or ask authentically clarifying questions i.e. “tell me more about what you mean when you say ___________” or “I’m not sure what you mean when you say ___________” etc.)
COME FOLLOW ME.
One extraordinary resource (for those with a Christian “come-from”), for Couple Care and further chit-chat is Come Follow Me, provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The objective of this content is to increase people’s spirituality. Miraculously, it has a secondary, bonus effect of bringing spouses together.
A friend of mine recently shared, “John my husband doesn’t like chit chat. He’s never been that kind of person, yet, our relationships is thriving in the process of going through the Come Follow Me study guide. In fact, before I left for work this morning, he said to me, “There is such a look of love in your face Sandy. It is something I don’t think I would have recognized without my heart being softened in the process of Come Follow Me.”
I can’t recommend this material highly enough, regardless of your specific religion. Note: There may be similar programs (recordings and manuals that encourage journaling and honest sharing) available in your specific religion.
Explanations and VARIATIONS
As mentioned above, reading or listening to an uplifting book in combination with foot or back rubs, brushing your spouses hair or ticking spouse's hand and arm is a great option. If this is not a normal, regular option for you, foot or back rubs can be for restitution (if both are agreeable). More on this in Managing Incoming.
Sometimes, it's better to say "nothing at all."
Kirk and Kim Duncan suggest that if you've had a particularly tough day you may want to skip “Nightly Check-In and Chit Chat” all together, or, supplement it with what they call the "Sway."
1) Pick a romantic song with a good slow-dance beat. Dance should last 3 minutes.
2) "Sway" (Hold each other and just sway back and forth like you were at a high school dance).
3) Look into each other's eyes, even if you've wanted to pour sour milk on each other 2 minutes earlier. That's O.K. just force yourself to do it. You don't have to smile. You don't have to be cute or even romantic. Just be present to each other's souls. Perhaps even ask God to assist you in a "Guided Tour" during the dance ("Guided Tour" is explained at the Couples GPS 1-day training).
4) Most important: Don't talk! Nothing. Not one single word. If in doubt, go back to #3.
Based on your schedule you may want to do a morning check in and chit-chat.
Mornings are even better for walks too.
You can also do a Family Inventory
Either interview each other, or, each can go around the circle and share what he or she would like (from the below questions). This time together can go anyway you'd like. You may feel inspired to just tell everyone why you are grateful for him or her, or maybe a little gratitude for members of your family and then you'd like to share how you chose fear today, or what your vision is. Or, someone may ask you what your vision is etc.
NOW you’re ready. Click here to go to NIGHTLY CHECK-IN or you could read even more below. Come back to this page often to get more tips and understanding on NCICC.
Special Thanks to DoriAnn and David Peck for their contribution to "Sharing Positives" and "Sharing Breakthroughs."