Family Meetings:: Staying Connected in the Chaos

Family Meetings:: Staying Connected in the Chaos

I was first introduced to the concept of family meetings at a marriage conference I dragged John to when we were engaged {yes, I am THAT girl}. The concept of scheduling a time once a week to give each other our attention, check on how each other are, and what we have coming in the following week sounded like a good idea, so we thought we would give it a try. Five years later, we are still at it. We’ve modified it over the years, but here is a basic outline of what we do today::

What Our Family Meetings Include

  1. Check in:: How have we been getting along, and is there anything we need to discuss?
  2. Gratitude:: Name one thing you appreciate about each other from the past week.
  3. Relationship Areas:: Is there an area we haven’t devoted any time to lately, like romance, social activities, or unstructured time together? {we have a list of these that we check in on}
  4. Upcoming:: What is happening this week, or generally in the future that we need to discuss? What tasks do we need to get done? 
  5. Question Card:: We have a deck of “questions to ask your husband or wife” and we pull one a week and answer it.

I have come to really enjoy and rely on our family meetings over the years. State of the Union meetings for spouses to stay in touch with each other, and I totally agree. When our schedules get thrown off by traveling or general life chaos, I miss our meetings, and I feel less connected to my partner. Here’s why I think they are helpful for us.

Managing Conflicts

Do you ever have an issue you know you need to discuss with your spouse, but you just can’t seem to find the right time to bring it up? Me too. Family meetings give us a designated time to discuss anything that might be on our minds, from big issues like job changes to small things like how to load the dishwasher. Sometimes our meetings last about 15 minutes. Sometimes they turn into an intense emotional conversation. Either way, the opportunity is always there each week, and it helps us meet any conflicts head on, rather than avoiding them by trying to find the perfect time to talk. It also allows us to debrief about anything that may have come up during the week. Maybe we got in an argument on Wednesday, but haven’t discussed it since. Family meeting is the time to circle back and check in with each other on that topic. 

Appreciate Each Other

How often do we focus on all of the things our partner doesn’t do, or doesn’t get right, especially when we are stressed? Naming something we appreciate about each other every week makes me stop and think about what things my husband does well, and how he goes above and beyond in little ways as a partner and a parent. Also, the brain pays attention to what we focus on, so looking for something to appreciate each week leads to finding more things to appreciate in the day to day. 

Staying on Track

When we get wrapped up in a million house projects, or have been neglecting date nights, family meeting is a good reality check for us. Where do we need to focus our time? What have we been doing a lot of, and what do we want to do more of? It allows us to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. 

Getting Things Done

Probably my favorite part of our weekly family meeting is the rundown of things we have coming up, and tasks to get done. We pull out our calendars and talk through upcoming birthdays, trips, work events, schedule changes, etc. This helps us talk through logistical things like planning holidays, and also stay on track with our day to day tasks and projects. This is HUGE for me in sharing the emotional and mental labor in my marriage. We update calendars and lists as needed, and we are ready to go for the week!

Learning Each Other

I believe that I will never learn everything there is to know about my partner. I love taking time each week to answer a question and hear about another facet of my husband’s life. It keeps us curious about each other, and grows our friendship. 

Although our family meetings right now do not include our daughter {she’s just shy of two}, I imagine that in the coming years they will evolve to include her perspective. For now, it is just the two of us, trying to stay connected in the chaos of life. 

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