I met my husband, Steve, in 1994.
We went out to dinner on a blind date. Strangely enough, I had the feeling when I met him that I was going to marry him. We wed three years later. This year we’re celebrating our 20-year wedding anniversary.
Back in 2003, when we were trying to adopt a baby, a social worker told us that we needed to learn how to communicate better with each other. My husband was quiet by nature, and I didn’t want to make him talk if he didn’t want to speak; consequently, a lot went unsaid.
But we took the social worker’s advice to heart. We brainstormed how we could make our communication better, and my husband came up with a great idea. We started to have weekly meetings where we spent an hour together discussing what was going on in our day-to-day lives, what needed to be done in our household, and what important dates were coming up that we had to plan for.
The conversation might concern something as inconsequential as the fact that we needed dish soap to something as important as the fact that my husband wanted us to create a household budget. My husband named these meetings the “Eat My Shorts Sessions.” (He was an avid Simpsons viewer.) They were essentially two-person family meetings.
We took them seriously and even took minutes. We recorded what went on in each session in a notebook. (Our notebook had a picture of Dr. Evil on it.) One week, he’d take the minutes, and the next week I would. Each meeting lasted about an hour.
These weekly sessions were the best thing that ever happened to us as a couple. Here’s why.
Life was complicated. On a normal evening after work, all he and I might have done was grunt at each other. Dinner had to be prepared. Dishes. Bills. Laundry. Shopping. The Eat My Shorts Sessions forced us at least one night a week to communicate openly with each other.
In those early years of our marriage, we were still getting to know each other. The weekly meetings allowed us to do this in a structured format. If something critical needed to be said, we felt freer in the sessions to discuss it. If compliments were in order, we let them fly and the meetings were joyous and uplifting.
Through the meetings, we got our act together, enough so to adopt a baby. We would have never been able to adopt a child if we hadn’t worked on our communication as a couple.
Putting all the details of life down in writing was useful. It was all there. We didn’t forget things. And we could go back years later and see what we were working on and see how far we’d come.
Through weekly practice, my husband became a better speaker. And I learned how to listen to him.
A weekly family meeting really worked for us.
If you’re recently married, or if you’ve been married for 30 years and just need to talk to each other more, consider participating in a weekly family meeting. Invest in a little notebook. Write down everything you address in your meetings. You can discuss what you’re thankful for, what’s gone well that week, what you’re hoping and praying for, what could be going better.
Put down the cell phones, stop texting, and talk to each other.
Open the lines of communication!
What you’ll notice is that your weekly discussions will become nightly discussions, and soon, you won’t need to set aside a time to communicate.
You’ll be doing it all the time.