Many couples can decrease the need for and cost of therapy, or eliminate it totally, by establishing a simple routine on their own. Regardless of life’s ups and downs, spouses who are able to communicate respectfully can increase romance, intimacy, and teamwork. They’ll deal with issues constructively and usually arrive at win-win solutions. My prescription for making such dreams come true: hold a weekly marriage meeting.
What is a Marriage Meeting?
A weekly Marriage Meeting provides a simple way for today’s busy, often overextended couples to improve their marriage and work through challenges by committing to meeting with each other once a week without distractions.
An effective marriage meeting is a gentle conversation with the following loosely structured agenda: 1) Express appreciation and gratitude for each other; 2) Coordinate chores and responsibilities for the coming week; 3) Plan fun “together” time as a couple, such as date nights or vacations; 4) Address and work through problems and challenges. I’ve been teaching the marriage meeting program for over 20 years to couples (married, engaged, or committed) and also to therapists. Follow-up studies of couples who continued to hold the meetings after participating in one of my Marriage Meeting workshops show that virtually all of them gained a significant increase in marital happiness.
I practice what I preach. My husband of over 28 years and I began holding a weekly meeting during our first year of marriage. We continue the practice to this day and I give it major credit for our lasting happiness together.
Instructions and Benefits
My book, Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted, gives guidelines and step-by- step instructions for holding Marriage Meetings. Couples who conduct them as prescribed increase romance, intimacy, and teamwork. By holding these meetings, when conflicts arise you’ll resolve them more smoothly and respectfully. If your marriage is already good, marriage meetings will keep it thriving. If you are facing unusual challenges, the meetings can help the two of you get back on track.
By following this program, couples find that they have a safe forum in which to air grievances or bring up sticky subjects, such as career changes or frustrations with the amount of housework that needs to be done. In the book, I share powerful advice for effective communication skills that will serve people in all aspects of their lives, from work to school to extended families to friendships.
Why Hold Marriage Meetings?
Many of us need to learn how to deal with small frustrations constructively before they can grow into mammoth sized crises. As a therapist, I’ve seen this happen not only in husband- wife relationships but also in adults who continue to feel helpless when mistreated by a parent, coworker, or someone else
A psychologist who was in one of my classes for therapists and counselors said, “I know of only one couple who’s happily married. They’ve been holding a weekly meeting for 50 years! Many couples find that after holding the meetings for a while, they feel able to communicate as effectively as they want to without the routine. Some couples are satisfied to hold their meetings less frequently than weekly. I think meeting weekly is best for staying on course, because then spouses give and receive healthy doses of appreciation regularly, handle chores smoothly, make sure to schedule their weekly fun date, and resolve issues promptly. “Unfinished business” is less likely to cloud your lives. For a small investment of time, the rewards that result from conducting a weekly meeting are huge. So discuss the idea of holding them with a potential marriage partner when your relationship is becoming serious– or with your spouse if you’re already married.
When to Conduct Your First Marriage Meeting
Marriage and Relationship educator Sarah Karmely has been successfully counseling brides-to- be for over twenty years. Her advice to one and all: “Hold a weekly meeting with your husband. Start holding the meetings before the wedding, so you’ll get off to a good start for making them a habit.” I couldn’t agree more.