A couple of years ago I was working full time and traveling quite a bit as was my husband. We were more like ships passing in the wind. When we got married we already knew communication was our biggest weakness, and the traveling and demands of work and family made it 1,000 times worse, so we decided to go see a marriage counselor. Public service announcement- This is not a post about marriage counseling but if you have ever considered marriage counseling – DO IT! It doesn’t have to mean you are on the brink of divorce, and if done early enough can prevent you even getting close to that point.
We learned a lot of really valuable skills for better communication and creating harmony at home, but one of the best things took away was what I call “the weekly planning meeting.” It’s so simple and obvious, but somehow it never occurred to us.
Our weekly planning meeting is really just what it says. Once a week, normally on Saturday or Sunday, we talk about our upcoming week. It’s not super formal or organized, because that just isn’t us, but typically just after a meal or over morning coffee we take a few minutes to think through where everyone is going. We are a blended family and we have four kids so there is a lot of coordinating of schedules between the two houses, sports practices, art classes, late work meetings, travel and all the other normal day to day stuff we all have going on. This gives me a landscape for the week so then I know how to fill in the rest of the week. From there I make my meal plan based on who is going to be home and needs feeding. On weeks that I’m super organized I put it up on a family calendar we have on our back door so everyone knows what’s happening. This is really just for my own sanity because somehow I have been deemed keeper of everyone’s schedules that they can’t remember for themselves. It’s nice to just point them to the door.
When our counselor first mentioned this to me I thought it sounded simple enough to try, but really didn’t give it enough credit for how much this would help us. It has added a level of sanity to my week I desperately needed. My husband lives in the now, as in the RIGHT now. Which really just means he doesn’t think past the next five minutes and how his schedule effects everyone else’s. This is NOT a criticism about my husband, but I just had to learn that this is part of his personality. I don’t love schedules. They have always felt very restrictive to my free spirit personality, but with so many people to think about, I was getting really frustrated with what felt like all the last minute surprises in our routine. In fact, they weren’t really surprises at all. Turns out my husband knows a year in advance when his annual member/guest golf tournament is, that lasts all weekend, he just didn’t tell me until the week of the event. I’ve gotten MUCH better at asking the right questions during our meetings, and my husband has gotten much better about taking this time seriously, bringing his schedule and really thinking through the week with me.
About once a quarter we sit down with our family calendar and talk about the upcoming months, and any big stuff we have going on. We figure out if we are taking any trips, have anyone coming in town to visit, my husband shares any upcoming travel he knows about, and anything else we need to talk about. We usually bring the kids in on this meeting and share the big picture of what will be happening and get any ideas from them about what they want/need to do.
Life does happen and there are times we talk about our week and then my husband gets called out of town or someone gets sick but for the most part our weeks go pretty smooth. We got this advice over 4 years ago and its now just part of our family DNA. Sometimes life gets busy and we just forget about taking the time to do this, but after a week or two everything just seems a little off and we make sure to get back into the groove as quickly as possible. I won’t go so far as to say this saved our marriage, but it sure has helped.