Partnership Meetings: How we keep our Marriage first
A long time ago, very early on in my relationship with my husband, we had some friends over. They are the kind of friends who you keep close to your heart and hopefully for a life time. They are the kind of people who we admired, in multiple areas but especially in their marriage. They obviously loved and respected each other but, in a way, that I had never seen before. They weren’t fake or pretending or putting on some sort of mask. Even in private I would never hear one of them talk about their spouse negatively.
Now keep in mind, most of my girlfriends and I would get together and complain (usually over some white wine) about our boy friends and what crappy fight we had that week. In fact, I specifically remember my first birthday as a couple and my (now) husband not wishing me Happy Birthday. I remember feeling so un-loved and upset that I did what I thought was the most logical thing to do… drink with my girlfriends and complain about how awful he was for forgetting my Birthday. It never occurred to me that I should talk to HIM and not them. Looking back now I laugh in embracement, but it was where we started and honestly, we had a lot of growing up to do.
These friends of ours aren’t perfect, in fact they are the first to admit that they have had MANY moments like the “forgotten Birthday” over the years. They have just learned to work through their junk. We look up to them a lot and we are always inspired when we get a chance to see them because they have the marriage that we want. Not perfect, but humble and willing to admit when they have made a mistake and love each other with forgiveness and an open heart anyway. They are the living definition of “Marriage is work, Daily work”. So, one day I asked them; what do they think makes them so different from other people our age when it comes to their marriage? I wanted to know, was it possible, in a world with a 50% divorce rate (even higher depending on where you live) to have a great marriage?
After hours of conversation and multiple late-night chats over the years I wanted to share with you two of the biggest “secrets” they have shared with us. We have put these to the test in our own marriage, so we know that they can work for even the most screwed up, imperfect, stubborn, selfish people like ourselves.
1) Reading Relationship books isn’t cheesy or corny, it should be a constant reference.
The first relationship books we ever read were “For Men only” and “For Women only”. In there it instructed you to read the book about your gender first ( So I would read For Men only as it is about women) and to highlight, make notes, use sticky notes or whatever made sense to me and go through each page and make it personal. Cross out what doesn’t apply to me, and make sure to highlight what DOES. So that, when my hubby read this book it was literally a personalized diary of how I felt and what I needed from him as a spouse and a partner. We did this as well as have a conversation after each chapter (as each chapter in both books were on the same topics). To this day, those books changed our relationship. Partly because of what was in the book, but more importantly because it allowed us to both admit that we needed things to chance and we wanted to work through them together. It was like a workbook for marriage. A really revealing, tough conversation kind of work book, but that’s why I say work book! Since then we have read a lot of books on Relationships, and have heard feedback from those same books from friends of ours who also loved them. I will add a few of our favorites to the bottom of this post for anyone who is interested.
2) This was the biggest one… setting aside time and having a meeting with your spouse.
At the office we would have staff meetings, team meetings, one on one meetings… whatever you called them, they were meant to be a specific set aside, pre-planned time to intentionally go over important topics. So why don’t we do that at home too? The point of setting intentional sit-down time (without kids, or phones or tv or any distractions) is to prioritize your relationship, your life and give a safe a open space to talk about whatever you need to.
You can call it a Relationship Meeting, a Strategic Date Night, Family Meeting or whatever you want. We call ours a Partnership meeting because we are in a Partnership together.
Our friends talked about having a PM ideally once a week, long enough to cool off from a heated discussion but not so far away that things get swept under the rug.
These are a few of the things that they talk about (and that we have adopted in our own PM); A) Overall, where is your Love tank this week? (from the book Love Languages) B) Was there anything I could have done to make that number higher? Was there anything I did that made that number so low? C) What can I do this coming week to fill your Love tank? D) Was there anything important you wanted to discuss? (You can also leave this one to the end) E) How was our Sex life? If it needed to improve, how can we do that this week? Setting aside time? Things that help put each other in the mood etc… F) What does our schedule look like for this week? How can we prioritize each of our to-do lists into the calendar? Can we help with anything on each other’s to-do list? G) Plan things like; Date nights, alone time, serving time (where you serve your spouse’s love language with zero expectations of them reciprocating), Family time and anything else important H) How was our budget this week? Are we on track with what our goals are? Did we overspend? Did we have an unexpected expense? Do we have anything coming up financial wise that we can plan for?
You get the idea! Just talking together intentionally is a huge step that (I know from experience) can just be swept under the rug. It’s almost like “If we aren’t fighting then there’s nothing to talk about” but the truth is there is NO perfect relationship, so that means that there is always room for improvement!
Now I am not telling you to run to chapters and buy a bunch of books and change your life around, but I would ask yourself; Is there anything I can learn from people who have the marriage I want? Whoever that may be! We took our friends advice because we knew we wanted a marriage like theirs. I’m not saying you have to want that, but find people who do have what you want and pick their brains. Whether that’s in their confidence, their financials, their sports activities, their cooking or crafting or time management!
Books and Google may contain a lot of information, but you won’t get to know people and their own vast life experiences unless you show an interest in them rather than living in a world of comparison. You may learn something! I know we did, and we are forever grateful.
Xoxo Mama Wolff
Some of our favorite Books:
1) For Men only & For Women only by Shaunti Feldhahn
2) Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs by Emerson Eggerichs
3) The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
4) Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
What are somethings that you have found work great in your own relationship? What would you like to pass along to your newlywed-self? Or to other young married couples now-a-days?