Resource: How to Hold a Marriage Meeting

A marriage meeting is a regular, intentional time set aside to pause and connect with your partner. It’s not only a time for “business” tasks, but it’s also a moment to fill up and encourage one another. It is a place you can be yourselves as you journey onwards in your lifelong commitment to a relationship that’s healthy, romantic, meaningful, and full of joy. And when your mental load feels like it’s reached peak capacity, a marriage meeting is how you create space. 

These meetings should set you up for a week where you are on the same page logistically and emotionally. It’s a time to notice what is going on beyond the “to-do” list of daily life. Its a time to not only state your needs, but to also offer praise for your partner’s efforts. The point of the meeting is to make cultivating your connection into a habit, a normal, everyday thing. So familiar that when you sit down together you instantly “plug in” to the relationship. There is more room for intimacy when all the business is handled, and working on your relationship in itself is a breeding ground for romance.

How to Hold a Marriage Meeting

  • Schedule It Weekly. Put a day and time on your calendar and honor it. Make it a habit.
  • Sit Together. Choose a comfortable spot on the couch or at the table and sit next to each other.
  • Limit Distractions. Turn your notifications and the television off. If you have kids, hold the meeting while they’re napping or in bed for the day.
  • Bring your tools. Make sure you have access to any bills, paperwork, calendars or organizational apps you use. Feel free to grab some pen and paper (or just use your Notes app) if you want to jot down anything to remember.
  • Keep it short. A short meeting makes for an easy weekly commitment.
  • Be Serious – At First. Refrain from having drinks or being too casual with each other. Treat each other with respect and kindness, then see where it leads when business is done.

Know that it’s normal for one partner to take the reigns in the beginning, but try to give equal time for discussion as you go through the agenda. Eventually, you’ll both learn to look forward to this time as you find it instrumental to your relationship. Above all, this meeting should never feel like a chore. And if it does, I challenge you and/or your partner to re-frame it. Make it fun and carry equal ownership. Change up the meeting spot. Put on some nice music. Approach each other with love and kindness even if the bills are a source of stress.

My recommendation is that you grab a few questions from the list below and create a personalized agenda based on your own needs, with the addition of 2-3 questions that might stand out as challenging or not totally applicable. The reason? You never know which question could open up a whole new level for your relationship

1. Start With Gratitude 

Begin by setting a positive environment. We all know there is power when your mind shifts to gratitude. And when you place all that mental energy toward your partner? It’s kind of monumental. Acknowledge any moments in the last week you felt particularly grateful for something your partner did. A few examples:

  • Thanks for making lunches for the kids at night so our morning wasn’t as rushed.
  • I really appreciated how you called to sort out that bill because you knew I was stressed.
  • It was so sweet of you to pick up my favorite drink on the way home.

As you get used to this practice, you can jot things down on your phone throughout the week. 

Bonus! When you put the focus on what they do rather than what they don’t do (which is arguably the default), it creates more connection and affection for the other. It also encourages you to seek out ways to do the same in return—the healthiest of spirals. The more you put this intentional attention toward your partner, the more attractive they become. It’s science. 

2. Talk Logistics

Once you’re feeling all warm and fuzzy, move on to the to-do’s, appointments, and expectations for the week. Try to keep it short and high-level. Otherwise, it can quickly take over the whole marriage meeting. (And if a certain topic brings up conflict, table it for later.)

  • What does your schedule look like this week? Compare calendars. Are there any appointments scheduled or that need to be scheduled? (Take this time to review any school due dates or activities for kids, as well.)
  • Do we need to divvy up duties in any way? From school pick-ups to household appointments, who does what?
  • What are your top three work priorities for the coming week? It’s valuable to discuss goals at work or at home with your partner. It gives both of you an idea as to what you’re walking into this week and hoping to achieve. You could also swap in a question about a specific goal you know the other is working toward—or something you’re working on together.
  • Check in on your finances. How are your goals coming along? Any areas you need to address?

3. Plan Ahead

Building a life together should be fun! And life is always more fun when you have happy things to look forward to. It’s easy to talk about it, so here is where you dig into the doing. Use this time to intentionally build fun and play into your life.

  • Plan dates. Do you have a weekly date cadence? Schedule it. This is also a good time to plan individual hangouts with your kids.
  • Schedule personal rest days. The goal is guilt-free rest and freedom to do the things that make you feel like you. It’s a critical time to refuel and to show each other support in your own individual interests. Trust me, doing so will benefit both yourself and those you love.
  • Schedule fun stuff. This is anything that doesn’t fit into the above categories: family activities, vacations, time with friends, etc.

4. Address Challenges and Connect

Finally, it’s time to get aligned across the board. Think of this as a problem-solving space, a moment to discuss challenges or areas that need the most attention and care. My advice: Tread lightly at first. Tackle small problems and issues that you know can be resolved and work on bigger issues on an ongoing basis, a little at a time. It’s almost like strengthening a muscle—one that’s committed to listening with an intent to understand.

  • Is there any unresolved conflict or things left unsaid that need to be discussed? Let this be a safe space to talk where you’re both resolved to solve a problem. 
  • Check in on your kids/family. Are there any behavior issues to discuss? How about disciplinary issues? How can you support them?
  • Check in on your spiritual life. This question can be interpreted in a number of ways and open up some surprising conversations.
  • How can I help/serve/encourage you this week? As mentioned above, this question speaks to any areas of your life where you’re feeling overwhelmed and can use some extra support.
  • Check in on your sex life. Discussing your sex life in a standing weekly meeting creates freedom and space for the conversation to evolve—and you might just be surprised to hear what your partner brings to the table. You may also be surprised to find that once you get to this part of the meeting, you’re both primed for connection on a “little less conversation, a little more action” level.
  • Close it out. This final part can be especially unique to the two of you. It could be a promise you make to one another this week. Perhaps it’s three things you want to focus on. It could be that you pray together or set a specific intention together. A ceremonial “closing of the meeting” allows you to get out of meeting mode before you… 
  • Show some affection. According to psychologists, just 7 seconds of hugging can trigger the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin and decrease stress levels (aka, cortisol). Try it—you’ll literally feel your body relax the closer you get to 7 seconds. You could also high-five. Or kiss. Or take it to the bedroom. Whatever you choose, create space for physical connection—you’ll be happy you did.

Working on your marriage is something you both need to show up for, or the “happily ever after” will not last very long. It must be part of your weekly agenda and daily focus. Just like you wouldn’t let the dishes pile up for weeks or months, your marriage needs maitenance too. After all, this is what you promised you would do for each other – till death. Best to get started now so it’s easy later.

Resource: How to Hold a Marriage Meeting