Life Audit: Keeping It All Together with Linchpin Habits - Marriage Meetings
Over the past few months, we've been on a mission to understand ourselves better to improve our lifestyle and overall life's trajectory. It all started with a FamilyLife Canada Marriage Conference Weekend Getaway that we attended.
At this conference, we learned more about each other, the importance of oneness in our marriage, and marriage meetings. And it's when we decided we should do a Life Audit for the health of ourselves, our marriage, family and business.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and that's as true for our habits as it is for our business.
That's why linchpin habits are a critical starting point; they can make or break the effective patterns of behaviour we're working to establish.
The first and arguably most critical linchpin habit we identified for our lives is our recently discovered marriage meetings designed by Marcia Naomi Berger in her Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love.
These meetings implemented correctly, provide us with a foundation of mindful awareness to identify strategically connected beneficial habits we should build and maintain while highlighting ways we might be wasting the precious resources of our time and energy.
If you're considering trying a 30-minute marriage meeting, it should include these 4 parts:
Intentionally setting aside time to appreciate your significant other creates a culture in your home where you are continuously looking to catch each other doing good.
Tasks and To-Do's
It's easier to feel like a team when there's clarity on who's doing what regarding household/parenting tasks and actionable responsibilities - including finances.
Planning for Fun
Marriage is about living together, so it's essential to make sure date nights and individual and family activities get priority so other priorities have their place.
No one likes a complicated conversation, but having a designated time and place to bring up issues can provide an open space for effective dialogue rather than creating an ambush scenario in the heat of a potentially already tense moment.
We added space and time for a self-care review to ours, where we're tracking our other habits to ensure we're being honest with ourselves about our goals, so we can make adjustments and corrections to the different practices we're currently working on.
To make it manageable, we created a google sheets agenda. That way can easily attach it to a recurring event in google calendar, allowing us both easy access to the core document. We can both add items to the agenda throughout the week as they come up.
If you want to make a copy and modify it for your use, click the File button and select Make A Copy if you have a google account, or you can download it as a word file and edit it to suit your needs.
Berger also offers some other important guidelines:
Just the two of you. No kids for this meeting.
Minimize distractions and interruptions
Sit Side by Side instead of across the table, which can feel a bit confrontational.
Bring your calendars, organizational tools/apps (we use Asana)
Come with an upbeat, positive attitude.
Allow both partners to feel ownership. The more verbal partner should ensure the other gets equal "air time." Jot down things through the week you'd like to put on the "agenda."
Keep the meeting to 30 minutes.* Don't get bogged down on one topic for longer than 15 minutes. If it needs more discussion time, schedule a separate time to discuss it further or table it until next week's meeting
*The first meetings may take longer while the structure and flow are being worked out. And in our case, we feel more accomplished running longer meetings and addressing all we wanted to cover than cutting it short if we are being productive. However, 30 minutes tends to be more than enough when we're maintaining the habit. Ideally, for us the timeframe is less important than ensuring meetings are kept concise, on track and productive.
We've also found establishing a pattern of treating our business communications in the same fashion to be helpful. Since we're always together for work and life, it can be easy for talk of business to invade every aspect of our lives. Few places in our lives are sacred from discussions of work, and it has now reached a point of being less about passion for our business to become an unhealthy necessity.
Jordan Raynor's book Redeeming Your Time talks a lot about this, and one of the tools we found helpful from that book is what's referred to as a Commitment Tracking System (CTS).
It's a method of freeing your mind from constantly thinking about all there is to do by identifying open commitments or open loops, immediately tackling those that will take moments to address, and collating the rest into a CTS.
A CTS doesn't need to be profoundly complicated. It needs to be as in-depth as the commitments you're tracking.
A shared family calendar and a centralized to-do list app should suffice for most families. We've considered a few different options, including new fancy options with integrated AI, but settled on Asana.
Asana works for us for a few reasons.
It works with Apple and Android devices allowing us to engage with it through our respective phones.
It is a no-cost option for now, allowing us to make improvements, learn the basics and stay on budget.
And it has a complex suite of premium features with the big picture and extensive project management in mind—a fantastic for us asset in the future.
Whether your family uses a physical calendar and handwritten lists or a digital calendar with app integrations as a CTS, if you're considering marriage meetings, we hope it helps elevate your family's potential as it has in our own.