You can become more intentional and connected in your marriage through having a regular relationship meeting.
As a working adult, chances are the word “meeting” causes an involuntary shudder. After all, many of us associate meetings with excruciating boredom, forced attendance, and lots of talking with little doing.
But meetings do serve a purpose. They exist to make sure people get the chance to share their views, to understand what’s going on for others, and to create a common vision moving forward. When you apply these objectives to your marriage, you can see how having a regular relationship meeting with your spouse can help to make a stronger, more coherent bond between the two of you.
So now you’re sold on the idea of having a regular relationship meeting, here’s how to make it happen.
Schedule the time and place for the relationship meeting
A relationship meeting should take no longer than 30 minutes. Any longer than that, it’s going to become another thing you try to squeeze in to your day. Ideally, you want to have the meeting in the weekend, as a vital part is reflecting on the week that has just been, and the week you have coming up. My preferred time for a relationship meeting is Sunday afternoon, after the “busy-ness” of the weekend has been done.
Make sure you’re in a comfortable place. You want the meeting to be a pleasant, not too formal, experience.
Set the agenda for the relationship meeting
The agenda for a relationship meeting needs to be fairly specific, so it feels purposeful and useful.
Start with the positive
Begin the meeting by talking about what’s going well. I’m a fan of both celebrating the wins and showing gratitude. Begin by sharing your biggest win of the week. This can be something personal, work-related or couple-related.
Once you’ve done that, start sharing all the things your partner did in the last week that you appreciated or are grateful for. Get as specific as you can:
I was really grateful when you sorted the flat tyre on the car.
I appreciated how you made that appointment for the dog groomer that I kept forgetting to do.
I really liked how you cuddled me before we got up this morning even though you were in a rush.
By sharing your wins, you’re making your partner feel like an equal partner in your success. By showing your appreciation for the things they do for you, you’re showing that you don’t take anything for granted. This is really important, as studies show that showing gratitude may be the secret to a happy marriage.
Tackle the nuts and bolts
After establishing a positive mood for your meeting, it’s time to work out the nuts and bolts. There are three aspects that need to be covered here.
First of all, a quick review of chores. This begins with a check-in of the status quo. For example, my husband and I have set tasks we do regularly in our weekly cleaning. Recently we decided that the kitchen could go off the weekly cleaning list as we actually cleaned it every day. My husband then picked up the mopping of the floors, which is a job I hate. This is an illustration of the importance of checking to see that what you’re doing is working, or if any adjustments need to be made. (If you struggle with getting your husband to help around the house, this article may help).
Additional to the check in, is meal planning. Again my husband and I have set nights where we cook, which has helped remove that mental load of thinking about what’s for dinner. So the next step is to fill out the meal planner so we know who is cooking what on what night (If you want some guidance on meal planning, you can check out No stress meal-planning in 15 minutes a week. There’s also a meal planner at the bottom of the post that you can get when you sign up for my mailing list).
Once these regular occurrences have been discussed, it’s time to think about any tasks that need to be completed around the home. Maybe repair people need to be called, items need to be purchased, or appointments need to be made. This discussion makes explicit all these little tasks and enables you to work out who can do what. This kind of overt division of labor is really important to prevent one member in the relationship feeling like they do the lion’s share of the tasks.
Then it’s time for a quick budget review. If one person is responsible for maintaining the budget and paying the bills, this is even more important, as then both people know exactly where you stand financially as a couple. Have a look at the week’s spending, check out your balances, and evaluate these against your budget. Discuss any upcoming purchases that need to be factored in to your plans.
Finally, it’s time to go over what you have going on in the upcoming week. Whether it’s a late meeting at work or a social occasion, both parties need to be reminded of what is happening when. If those commitments interfere with other commitment (e.g., you can’t take your child to hockey practice because you have a late meeting), now is the time to make sure that’s also sorted. This is also a good time to review invitations and decide what you will commit to.
Once the nuts and bolts have been sorted, then the fun stuff begins!
Start of by talking about the things that you’ve done together lately as a couple that you’ve enjoyed. This can be from gardening together, binge watching a season of Game of Thrones, or going out for dinner to a restaurant neither of you had been to before. Being explicit about what you enjoyed leads you to talk about how you could make more room for that kind of activity going forward.
This is also the chance to talk about things that maybe aren’t going quite so well in your relationship. However, remember to keep your discussion solution-focused. It’s not the time to have a vent about everything you think your partner isn’t doing.
Once you have that out of the way, plan the next activity you’re going to share together. I’m not talking in excruciating detail- for example, we just decided that in two weeks’ time we were going to go over to a nearby city and run most of the course of our upcoming half-marathon. I am a big fan of having small things to look forward to on a consistent basis. If you’re a regular date night person, then now is the time to decide what you’re going to do and what arrangements need to be made.
Finally, it’s time to dream big. Remember that everything that you have now is something you once dreamed about. So unleash the power of your dreams. Start by talking about the future and what your perfect life would look like. Share your visions and hopes. Imagine what you would do if money were no object at all. You don’t have to come up with ways to make it happen, in the meeting, but over time if the same things keep coming up for you both, then that’s a sign it’s time to make it happen.
Wrap up the relationship meeting
Your relationship meeting is now finished! Thank each other for taking part and make sure that whatever you’ve agreed to, you follow through on.
A well-structured relationship meeting will make sure you and your partner don’t take each other for granted, will help you stay on the same page in terms of chores, finances and what you have coming up on the calendar, will make sure you keep connected and most importantly, will keep your dreams alive!
Do you have relationship meetings? If so, do they contain any other aspects I haven’t talked about here?
If not, do you think a relationship meeting is something you’d like to try?