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How to Make a Marriage Meeting Actually Happen - 5 Reasons They Are Hard for You & 5 Tips to Make Them Stick

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Around my husband and I's fifth wedding anniversary, I was beginning to feel disappointed by what felt like a lack of growth and connection in our marriage over the years.

We were a peaceful couple. We had goodwill towards one another, enough goodwill that a marriage counselor essentially asked us once why we were even coming to counseling. We shared common values, but something felt off.

I didn't have the words for it then, but that "off" begins to emerge when a couple does not have regular, predictable, and meaningful communication.

To remedy this, we decided to start a marriage meeting.

However, this is not the first time we decided to start a marriage meeting, but it was the first time it stuck.

When I talk to couples, I see the same desire I had. They want to make a marriage meeting stick, but every time they try, it seems like it doesn't last more than a month.

I am going to share several tips to help your marriage meeting stick, but to get started, we are going to answer the question: What is a marriage meeting?

What is a Marriage Meeting?

The definition of marriage meeting we are using throughout this blog is a weekly meeting with your spouse to discuss predetermined questions or topics to enhance communication.

Here is how Kalista says it: "In short, our version of a 'marriage meeting' is: A weekly check-in with your spouse to get on the same page and discuss the matters that need talked about."

If you want more information, check out: What Is a Marriage Meeting?

Our goal is to make them frequent enough that you stay in an up-to-date conversation with your spouse on the things that matter while simultaneously making them simple and casual enough that you will want to stick with them.

Why do couples have a hard time sticking with a marriage meeting?

People are Creatures of Habit

People can spend as much as 90% of their day in autopilot. Some research even says more. It is not necessarily easy to resist the natural current, which encourages us to do the same things the same way daily. It actually is not easy at all.

Imagine if you had the option to swim upstream against the current or float downstream with the current assisting you along. Like most people, you probably would choose the leisurely float over the strenuous swim.

So, if you, as a couple, have not done a marriage meeting before, it would be equivalent to swimming upstream. It takes effort. Don't let this discourage you though. Simply take note that this is one of the reasons you feel resistance to starting. It is human, and lots of people feel it.

Marriage Meetings Do Not Feel Authentic to Your Personality

This one is dedicated to all the free-spirits out there who resist structure, love spontaneity, and can't be confined by a routine. Yes, I am looking at you.

I love free-spirited people. But some of you feel a resistance to anything called a routine, meeting, or any other resemblance of something scheduled and structured.

I am going to shoot straight here and say, we all have routines. We all repetitively do things the same way over and over again. Our mind is wired to do this.

We have included a tip below just for you to encourage you in your attempt at making Marriage Meetings happen.

The Meeting Feels More Burdensome than Helpful

Another reason you may find it hard to stick to a marriage meeting is when you hear what you are "supposed" to cover, it feels as if someone just dropped a weight on you.

At first glance, it feels like it is just one other thing to add to a to-do list that already has too many things on it. You feel like it may have a small benefit but not more than the extra work it will take.

It Feels Like There is Not Enough Time

To farther address the point above, you are already over-booked. You have too much to do. Your current responsibilities cause anxiety, and you don't need any more.

If you need a little bit of encouragement in this area check out these:

Bob Goff's Thursday Practice (Preview: he quits something).

The Marriage Meeting is Not Clearly Defined

Have you ever mentioned to your spouse that you should have a marriage meeting because you think it is a good idea but had no idea what you would talk about? This lack of clarity can make some feel anxious and make others feel like it is pointless.

The person prone to anxiety (or maybe just anxiety about others talking too much), may be calmed by deciding on a few questions ahead of time rather than it being a free-for-all.

The person who may be tempted to think it will be pointless without some kind of agenda, would love to know there is a plan in place and some ground will be made on important issues.

4 Tips to Make a Family Meeting Happen

Practice a New Habit

Recently I have been reading the book Habits of the Household, and the author says, "We don't think ourselves into a habit. We practice ourselves in."

"We don't think ourselves into a habit. We practice ourselves in." - Justin Whitmel Earley

His point is essentially: If we don't think ourselves into a habit, we don't really think ourselves out of a habit. We simply need to practice it.

So, when it comes to a marriage meeting, we simply need to continue to practice it without over-complicating it with our mind. You may feel resistance to something new, but eventually you won't as it becomes something you just do.

"It was the point where something we've done became something we do." - Justin Whitmel Earley

I don't want to completely toss out mindset and what we do think about when it comes to our marriage meetings, but there are times that the greatest resistance is just because we have not started and we are essentially "swimming up hill."

Call Your Marriage Meeting Something Else

For some of you out there, calling a marriage meeting a "meeting" is a significant point of resistance to starting for you. It may feel stuffy, too structured, etc. and you would rather your marriage and communication feel more natural. I understand your hesitation, but here is what I would ask you: Are you satisfied with the current state of your communication? Do you feel connected? On the same page? Understood?

If you do, you may have a natural knack for communication and the marriage meeting could be unneeded.

However, if you are dissatisfied in any of the previous areas I mentioned, then what comes "natural" is not working for you. What feels natural is getting you your current state of communication. And if you don't like it, then you would likely benefit from the marriage meeting habit.

However, all is not lost. For some, simply calling it something else changes how they feel about it. If the word "meeting" conjures up feelings of resistance for you, call it a:

  • chat

  • meet up

  • connect time

You get the picture. For some, that is simply enough to get the ball rolling on a habit that would improve their marriage drastically.

Keep the Marriage Meeting Simple by Only Doing a Few Questions

Let's say, you are resistant to exercise. You know it would be good for you, but you are having a hard time getting started. Keeping that in mind, what if you were told you need to start exercising daily for one hour? How would you feel? More resistance? Overwhelm? Dread?

Now, let's say I told you to start by walking for one minute, three times a week. How would you feel now? Like you could probably do it?

Point is: Do not defeat yourself before you get started by attempting to start perfectly and completely. You do not have to cover finances, goals, family vision, kids, etc. to get started with a marriage meeting.

If I asked you to ask your spouse a few simple questions once a week that would take you 10-15 minutes, would you do it? If not, you can even start smaller with one question. One question alone can reap positive dividends in your relationship that can give you the motivation and encouragement to keep going and to deepen the meeting over time.

Do you need some ideas? Try:

  • What are your hopes for the week?

  • Where do you need my help this week?

  • What is on your mind lately?

  • How is _______ going?

Questions like these and more are in our Marriage Meeting Topic Cards

Something that is simple that you will do is better than aiming for perfection to the point it becomes something you won't do.

Clearly Define What You Will Talk About (A.K.A: Set an Agenda)

When I suggest a Marriage Meeting Agenda, as previously stated, I am not referring to some cumbersome list of topics that you must talk about and therefore, it becomes something heavy that you won't do. I am talking about giving yourself the gift of clarity and a plan.

I once asked my husband, "Why did we stick with a marriage meeting this time when we had tried before and failed?"

His answer? He knew what we were going to talk about. There are a variety of personality types that may be adverse to going into a discussion having no idea when it will end or if what is discussed is of any importance. Introverts can be this way. Those who work around a lot of noise and stimulation, who want to relax with some silence may be put off by an unending/undefined conversation and more.

The plan is a gift because not all topics are created equal. At least not equally beneficial. Bunnies and finances are not on the same playing field.

Working from a plan will help you ensure that your conversation will actually benefit your relationship.

Even if you do not feel the benefits right away, choosing intentional questions will ensure that you will in the future.

"One today is worth two tomorrows; what I am to be, I am now becoming." Benjamin Franklin

How do you feel about your marriage? If it is less than spectacular, you must change something you're doing today, or you will continue to create the same relationship dynamic over and over again.

Better communication is not something to put off. It is time to get started. Keep it simple - as little as 5 minutes if that helps - and practice.

Your marriage will change.

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