It is no secret that marriage ( or even domestic partnership ) is hard work. If it isn’t, you might be doing it wrong or you are perfect and you should tell all of us what we are doing wrong.
People get married for many reason. Hopefully one of those reasons is that they love each other and want to keep loving each other for a very long time. Other reasons could include wanting a family, double incomes, and just wanting to have a best friend to go through life with together. Whatever the reasons are, the fact is that no one really plans for the disagreements, trying to match up schedules, and trying to get on the same page with parenting or household responsibilities. I know that I didn’t realize that there would be times my husband and I would barely see each other or even have to plan out times for important discussions. Sometimes things that were so big they end up exploding like an atomic bomb before we could find the time to sit down together. That my friends is never good, but it does happen.
Even through all that, marriage is amazing when done properly. If two people are willing to work at it, and be willing to learn the art of compromise, they can live their whole lives surrounded in mostly happiness. A couple can not only raise a family and follow their dreams, but truly live a fully satisfied and realized life hand in hand. If, and ONLY IF, both people are willing to give it their all ALL OF THE TIME and put the Lord first.
Agreeing to give your 110% is easy. Finding the time to do it isn’t. With careers, kids, possibly college, cleaning, personal time/hobbies, church, and social activities.. How do I find the time to really work on my marriage?
My answer to this is: a weekly “Marriage Check In; a REQUIRED 30 minutes to one hour session every single week where my husband and I give each other our undivided attention and talk about the things the matter.
If your first thought is that you don’t know where to get even 30 uninterrupted minutes with your partner, than I am REALLY glad you are here. I use to be right where you are. I thought everything seemed good most of the time and that we were just too busy to sit and talk. Or, when we would talk, the topics where nothing really important so it felt like wasted time. I will be the first to tell you, this short weekly check in has TOTALLY CHANGED my marriage. The time can be carved out before evening T.V, in those quiet moments before the children wake up on the weekend, or while cooking dinner together. Trust me, if you look over your time and look at this check in as a MUST DO, you can find some time. 🙂
So, back to the check in. So, you are sitting down looking at each other…. Now, what in the world do you talk about?
Look at this time as a chance to build each other up, stop conflicts or issues in their tracks, and solidify solutions to anything on the family to-do list. If you have found that you and your husband have been having more disagreements lately or that you don’t feel that you are on the same page, these meetings can really help get everything settled and heading the right direction.
Far to often, disagreements about cleaning, parenting, financial, or social activities are only briefly mentioned or not mentioned at all and eventually leads to much bigger and more difficult to work out issues. Instead of randomly bringing up needing more help in the kitchen or overspending in passing, I make a note of how I am feeling and bring it up when we really have time to talk. Our meetings give up the ability to know that we will be able to talk about any concerns and actually be listened to. It erases the need for petty arguments and abolishes any building resentment. It allows you to decompress and release the things that are bothering you so you do not have to keep carrying them with you week after week.
I find that our meetings work best when we follow a few simple rules.
- Make them weekly.
- Make sure you will have minimal interruptions.
- Take notes.
- Allow each of you to speak and be heard.
Some additional tips to get your meetings off to a great start.
- Make sure you show appreciation to your spouse during their meeting. Really listen to them. Write down what they are saying so that you can work together towards a solution.
- Be specific when explaining your needs, wants, and ideas.
- Be open to suggestions and questions.
- If anyone starts to get upset, take a break. There is no rule that says everything has to be solved in one session.
At the end of the meeting, I like to make a short list of the topics we discussed. A “to-do” list if you will. We use this to plan a timeline for the topics that can be completed in a certain time frame. We also make a list of priorities for the week that we each want to work on. Sometimes, the end of the meeting is a great time for a quick brainstorming session on how to get some of the items on the list completed as well. The important thing is to get a plan in place that will touch on the items that you discussed in the meeting. Do not demand that the other partner do anything. This is the time for compromise and understanding. Not pointing fingers. If there are any items that are too big to work out in a week or even in a month, such as money, intimacy, or in-laws; make a seperate list and agree to spend a bit of time on no more than 2 of these big issues each week. It feels GREAT when you finally can mark the big nagging issues off of the list.
Keep in mind, every issue will not get resolved. You are two totally different people and sometimes you’ll just have to agree to disagree. The hope is that these check ins will get you both talking and actively putting work into your marriage.