One of the most magical parts of getting married is that you get to choose someone to be your family. This may be hard to envision when you are just growing accustomed to each other’s style of wedding planning, but once you are married, you are now tied to each other in ways that mean that your daily lives are dependent on each other.
Being a new family means that there are many reasons why a family meeting or two could really help you organize your new life together. This can be just the two of you, if you have no children or other dependents, or it might involve others, if family members, friends, roommates, or children are living in your home as well. Anyone who is impacted daily by the way you live, work, and play is a good person to have in the room for discussions of how things will be different now that you two are married.
Family meetings are good for a variety of purposes, both serious and fun.
A family meeting is a good way to make sure that everyone gets a chance to tell each other about positive achievements or experiences. Even if it is just the two of you, the moments of coming home from work might get obscured in the flurry to get dinner ready and relax after the day. By the time you think to discuss a positive part of your day, you may have forgotten what happened or see it as no longer relevant. Family meetings make a space for those great moments to get spoken aloud, and even more importantly, they set aside time so that family members can listen to each other fully when thoughts and ideas get mentioned.
Family meetings are also essential for combining calendars. If one of you is more organized than the other, there can be misunderstandings and calendar snafus that just create tension during the newlywed days. Instead, set up a weekly meeting where you can go over what each person has on the calendar, both that week and looking forward. By having a set time for this calendar combination, you avoid double-booking yourselves and you might even get an idea for a fun date night or two in the process. Some couples prefer a set of physical planners that you compare to each other, but for the high-tech among us using a calendar application can have the added benefit of issuing reminders on your phone that make sure everyone shows up. The traditional wall calendar that both people can write on also helps, but make sure that you still take time to discuss what “Meet up with the Smiths” actually entails before the day of the event.
Keeping the Relationship Healthy
Having a family meeting as a couple is also a great way to continue the work that is done in pre-marital counseling. Counseling allows you to make sure you are at the same place in the relationship and expecting similar things, and a family meeting gives you a place to talk about your relationship. Certainly, some people think that being married is a chance to stop talking about their relationships, but in truth, more things will change in that first year of marriage than you might realize. If you have experienced disappointment or surprise at some aspect of living together, bringing it up in a meeting rather than waiting for it to explode as a fight can be a proactive step that keeps you treating each other well. Having parts of the meeting set aside in an order – for instance, calendars, relationship talk, recent positive experiences – allows you to start with the harder things and end on a good point with each other. Even people who dislike relationship talk can agree that it is far better to be transparent and open when things are not very problematic than waiting for them to grow into something unmanageable.
Planning for the Future by Solving Problems
Another reason to have family meetings early and often is to start solving problems and planning for the future. A family meeting is a great place to develop a wish list for future vacations, home improvement projects, or timeline for when you want to have children. All of these things aren’t meant to be on one single family meeting agenda; rather, by addressing a few small topics each time you meet, you get a little more prepared for the future. This is even more important when more than two people share a household: if a child or a roommate finds mold in the bathroom but has no time to get the information to you, the problem gets worse, but if they voice the concern in a family meeting, a plan can be enacted and everyone feels heard and respected.
Family meetings may seem out of reach if you are very busy, or overly formal if everything seems “perfect” as newlyweds, but making this a habit early on can avoid so many misunderstandings and conflicts; why not set aside time for your family? It doesn’t have to be traditional and around the dining room table, you can have your meetings by a fire pit in the backyard or in the living room with a board game planned afterwards!