Welcome back to my new series on eight fundamental habits in great marriages, which tend not to be present in bad ones. Last week, we learned that the first habit for great marriages is spending daily time debriefing with your spouse. If you missed it, click HERE. This week, we continue with habit #2 for great marriages.
The second habit is the Weekly Staff Meeting.
A great marriage doesn’t just happen. It is planned, prayed about, and executed. Great marriages also take thought and discussion. It seems that many people have the idea that if two people are “right” for one another, then it will be easy to have a great marriage. This is not true. Even if you are naturally compatible, making a marriage work requires that you work through the various things that come up in a marriage. I know of no successful business that succeeds without planning and communication, so it is with marriage. The greatest team and the greatest business you will ever be a part of is your marriage; therefore, in order to maximize your marriage in every direction, do what successful businesses do-plan to have a staff meeting every week.
Great marriages have staff meetings to make sure that both people are on the same page. This is the place to talk business with your spouse, such as what do you each think about the issue with the finances? How are you going to work through the discipline issue with the kids? How do the various schedules mesh or clash this next week? What fun thing can the family look forward to? What are both people expecting will happen and where do those not align?
By having a weekly staff meeting, your date nights won’t turn into a staff meeting, which is what I typically see when I see a husband and wife engage on a date. Wouldn’t it be great to actually enjoy kid-free, business-free talk on a date instead of hashing out worries, concerns, or details? Plus, you will avoid a lot of anger, apologies, hurt feelings, financial mistakes, and needless worry. My wife and I would usually sit down on Saturday afternoon starting at 1 o’clock to discuss the coming week and the various issues that we knew would come up. I have listed a potential agenda for this staff meeting below, with the idea that the next week can be worked through with the maximum success.
Great marriages have staff meetings so that man and wife can be on the same page. Bad marriages stay angry, punishing each other and refusing to get over their selfishness and pressing forward to something good and helpful. Yes, I know that it is tough to have these discussions if you are mad at each other or unable to communicate in the most basic way. You have to get over these issues and move your marriage to success. One way is to have a staff meeting. Would a good company not have a staff meeting because a couple of the employees were upset with one another? They would have the staff meeting anyway and potentially the disagreement might make the staff meeting so they could work things out.
Staff Meeting: do this every week, 1-3 hours
The following are various topics and questions that will get you ready for the next week. There may be other questions regarding your lives that need to be added to this discussion.
What is your schedule this next week?
What is my schedule this next week?
When are you wanting to do things together?
When are you wanting me to do things for you?
When am I wanting to do things together?
When I am wanting you to do things for me?
Go over where the family is meeting the budget and talk about what can and cannot be purchased this next week. If you have not prepared a budget, then one person should prepare one and bring it to one of the staff meetings for both of you to talk through it. This is not a full-on budget meeting but rather an update:
What needs to be spent this week?
Can we purchase this or do we need to wait?
Are we still on track for the holiday or party or vacation?
Have we spent too much on anything so far this month?
A few excellent resources on the subject of budgeting is Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey and Y.N.A.B., a computer software program for your use on your phone to keep track of where you are constantly.
Both parties should be able to bring up things that they are concerned about that could cause problems for the marriage or the family. It is not that the issue will be resolved just because one person brought it up. It may not be possible to make a wise decision on some of the concerns of one party, but it can be discussed and noted without resolving it. Sometimes one person is pushing their point of view so strongly that real discussion is not possible. Remember, the goal of discussions within a staff meeting is to find wisdom and communicate -- not to hammer your point of view. The following are some of the topics that husband or wife wants to suggest needs to be discussed as a concern: Family, Marriage, Money, Work, Church, God, Friends, Society, Enemies.
Good marriages can have a discussion about almost anything without getting angry or demanding that only one opinion is possible in the marriage. Stay calm if the other person brings up something that you are not ready to come to a resolution about. Work with your spouse instead of against them. There is a way to have you and your spouse on the same side.
When you have children still living at home, this section of the staff meeting may take up the most time. Go through the 5 R’s. A discussion about each child and where progress needs to be made will allow husband and wife to work together and develop an enjoyable family. It really can be wonderful to raise a family if you have a plan and work together.
Relationship: How is the relationships going for each you and the child?
Respect: Are we and they respectful of each other?
Responsibility: Are we and they being responsible? Work, clean up, chores, etc.
Rules: Are we and they living within God’s rules and our rules?
Resources: Does anyone need resources this week?
Expectations for the Week
It is inevitable that the husband or the wife is expecting something to happen in the next week that is not necessarily on the top of the mind of the other one. This is the time to bring it up. What is happening or what is important during the next week so that it is not a surprise to the other one? If there is a big thing at work, then mention it. If you are excited about an activity or a friend, then make sure you talk about it. If there is a big bill due or a crucial anniversary coming, bring it up. If you are expecting your spouse to do a particular thing, then mention it rather than expecting the other person to be a mind reader. If your children are having a big play or a game that both parents should attend, then mention it. If you discover that you have different expectations about a particular time or event, then have a calm discussion. There are always ways it can work. There are always options that have not been considered yet but will allow for the most benefit to the most people.
I was expecting you to do _____________ this morning, this afternoon, this evening
I was expecting to get to do ______________ this weekend, this Friday, this day
I am hoping to be able to do ______________ this month ... within 6 months, within a year
There was a time when I had an idyllic view of our whole family doing various trips together even as the kids got older. It was just not possible to have everybody go on every outing every time without major disruptions to their school, friends, and team schedules. My wife and I had a most profitable discussion about my expectations, and over a period of weeks, I realized I needed to be much more flexible. Stay flexible and realize that your idea of what is perfect is not necessarily perfect for the other person or for the whole family.
I think if you will put your version of this weekly staff meeting into regular practice, you will find your marriage to be one of great cooperation, mutual respect, and met expectations. Give it a try, or if you already do this, please let me know what you do and how it is working for you! You can reach me at email@example.com.
Join me next week for the third habit of great marriages.
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Marital Intelligence, subtitled “A foolproof guide for saving and supercharging marriage,” is based on thousands of hours of marital counseling and observation by the author. Stieglitz is a counselor, speaker, mentor, professor, and leadership consultant based in Roseville, Calif. He is currently a professor at Western Seminary, a district superintendent for the Evangelical Free Church of America, and a church consultant for Thriving Churches International. He also directs his own ministry, Principles to Live By. Stieglitz says there are only five problems in marriage: (1) Ignoring needs; (2) Immature behaviors, (3) Clashing temperaments, (4) Competing relationships, and (5) Past baggage. With each issue, he carefully and consistently lays out biblical teaching on the subject, and then includes helpful anecdotes, solutions, and self-tests to help the reader.