You go to the doctor. Take your car for an oil change. Replace the furnace filters.
But how often do you and your partner take the temperature of your relationship?
The University of Kentucky Family Center is sponsoring free relationship checkups in conjunction with Valentine's Day week.
The idea, said Ron Werner-Wilson, chairman of the department of Family Sciences, is that the Valentine chocolate will be gobbled until it is but a puddle in the stomach and the flowers will wilt, but a relationship checkup can yield a variety of constructive steps forward that will last longer.
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And it's free.
The confidential sessions will be conducted by master's-level students who are enrolled in the marriage and family therapy program at UK.
Werner-Wilson and his wife, Tracey Werner-Wilson, director of the Family Center, said that at the checkups, couples are asked to pinpoint how their relationship works — including issues such as managing disagreements and learning strategies to get through rough patches— and then develop an action plan to improve.
A fun note about the Werner-Wilsons: They met on an airplane on which Ron had not planned to travel. From that moment of serendipity came a marriage and three children, who are now 18, 16 and 11.
The couple also frequently cross paths through their jobs at UK.
"We have realized the culture of prevention, or being proactive," said Ron Werner-Wilson. "When it comes to physical health or taking care of our homes, preventive maintenance is always better than a crisis."
Werner-Wilson, who came to UK in 2007, said that he had been doing relationship checkups for decades, and that Valentine's Day, when the culture emphasizes romantic love, is a good time to step back and look at the mechanics of what keeps a loving relationship going.
Consider the relationship between an aspiring athlete and a coach or personal trainer, Ron Werner-Wilson said: Once you develop a clear plan for improvement, you know where to concentrate your efforts. Such advice may include how often to walk or run, and how many sweets you can leave out of your diet.
"A relationship checkup is a lot like that," Werner-Wilson said. "We can briefly assess your relationship, then give you some resources."
Tracey Werner-Wilson said that relationship checkups are not just about telling partners what they're doing wrong.
"We're looking for what they're doing right, what they enjoy, what's important to them," she said. "It's a way of letting their partner know they're going to be there for them. ... I see the checkup as a way of building on strengths they have as well."
Ron Werner-Wilson said that the checkup can include questions about playfulness, whether the pair can have fun together, how they discuss things and whether each feels appreciated.
"That really gives us a nice snapshot of where they are," he said.
Couples that need to address anger in their relationship, for example, may be referred to books that address that problem.
Several books are favorites of the Werner-Wilsons: Sue Johnson's Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love and John Gottman's The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
The checkups are open to married couples, those living together and gay and lesbian couples.
"All couples are going to have problems," Ron Werner-Wilson said. "All relationships are going to have a conflict. A good relationship is about learning to resolve those conflicts."