Weekly Marriage Meetings foster romance, intimacy, teamwork, and smoother conflict resolution. Most people who hear about the pending book, The Marriage Meeting Program: 45 Minutes a Week to Guarantee the Long Term Relationship You’ve Always Wanted, say, “Good idea.”
But not everyone is eager to dive in and try a Marriage Meeting.
High divorce rate is a wake-up call for prevention
Have they not heard yet about the 50% divorce rate for first marriages and 60% failure rate for second ones? Common sense would dictate the need for a preventive, proactive strategy for strengthening marriages. Yet here are excuses some people give for not being willing to conduct a Marriage Meeting:
- We’re too busy.
- A formal meeting with my spouse? You’ve got to be kidding.
- We handle things as they come up.
- I meet with people all day at work; the last thing I want is to come home to a meeting every week
How Marriage Meetings strengthen a relationship
Because the benefits of the formality and regularity of Marriage Meetings are cannot be overstated, each objection will be addressed in turn.
1. “We’re too busy.”
When I suggested to Sandra, an acquaintance who expressed curiosity about my work, that she and her husband might want to try Marriage Meetings, she said, “The only time we talk is during our weekly couple’s psychotherapy sessions.” How much money might this couple be able to save by conducting weekly Marriage Meetings on their own instead of paying for weekly couple’s therapy?
2. “Meetings are too formal.”
Emma and Stuart felt this way during their first few Marriage Meetings, which they scheduled after attending a workshop. When interviewed separately for a follow-up study a year later, here is how they responded:
“At first it felt contrived, like an exercise,” Emma said. “But it was good for fine-tuning how we approach things, so it became easier to relax into it. I definitely learned some skills. The agenda gives the meeting focus. Without it, we would get off track. The meetings got easier because of the clarity they provided around making decisions. Communication always works better when done with intention than without intention. I use the skills not just in the meetings, but in general.”
3. “We talk when something comes up.”
A spontaneous approach to connecting with a spouse works fine if one’s partner is willing to talk at the moment. But often the timing is not in sync.
During a couples therapy session, Bill and Kate had similar complaints. “Just when I’m getting ready to go to bed, she bombards me,” he said. “It’s late and I’m trying to get to sleep because I have to get up early for work, and that’s when she wants to talk.” Kate had her own gripe: “I’m exhausted when I get home from work, and I want some down time. Bill won’t leave me alone. He comes at me with all these questions, and he won’t wait until later.” Frustrated, Bill said, “Oh, yeah. Well later never comes.”
Problems are easily ignored, rationalized, or put on hold until some hoped for right time. Meanwhile, a concern about sex, parenting, money, in-laws—or something else—festers into a gaping wound.
Marriage Meetings assure that “later” will come. Partners will talk at a mutually agreed upon time when both will have energy. Every week, they re-affirm their commitment to each other. Isn’t that better than trying to converse when one partner is tired, hungry, or otherwise occupied?
4. “I have enough meetings at work.”
Any successful organization requires regularly scheduled meetings in order to set goals, assign and coordinate tasks, and monitor progress. In the absence of frequent communication, the left hand does not know what the right one is doing.
A marriage needs fine-tuning on a regular basis
Like any institution, a marriage shows signs of neglect when expected to function smoothly without fine-tuning. Sometime after the honeymoon, many couples start taking each other for granted. They forget to nurture their relationship with words and deeds, and therefore begin to deplete their reservoir of trust and good will. They ignore minor conflicts until they escalate into crises. Partners express anger by arguing about trivialities or by withdrawing from each other. Some drift into living parallel lives, functioning more like roommates than the lovers they used to be. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, infidelity and/or addictions often develop when a marriage weakens.
Cut out the excuses, prepare for more loving marriage
These are the most frequently stated reasons for scheduling marriage meetings. The answer to each of them shows the value of Marriage Meetings.
Learn how to conduct a Marriage Meeting. Also, find out what the real reasons are of some couples who shy away from holding them.
Then follow the rules for successful meetings. Prepare for a more loving, intimate, fulfilling relationship. Get the marriage you’ve always wanted by starting now!