Nurture or create a healthy relationship
by having an annual
“state of the union” meeting.

We all know that a healthy relationship needs communication. That's not too hard when it's just the two of you, but with kids, it gets more challenging. Once babies come onto the scene, there are diapers and sleep deprivation. The housework explodes exponentially and there's barely time to brush your hair. Time together becomes an opportunity to briefly exchange only the bare essentials of the household. If both parents work full time, there's an additional element of rushing that infects most time together.

And then the babies get older! I don't want to alarm you, but the babies eventually become kids! Soon there are music lessons and sports practice and homework. Time becomes more and more scarce. Making time together as a family takes some effort and planning, and the idea of having private time with your spouse seems like a distant memory.

This was where we found ourselves several years ago, and we implemented an in home date night , which helped a lot.
It was nice to have one night a week that we looked forward to, where we could talk, watch a dvd or whatever.

There was still something missing, though. We lacked a framework to discuss the Deep Issues. You know what I'm talking about. Money issues. Family dynamics. Division of labor grievances. And we haven't even gotten to intimacy.

The “state of the union” meeting gave us a platform for communication of all that and more. I got the idea from a friend, who does it on their anniversary. The idea is simple. You write down a list of all possible topics. Ours include: kids, division of labor, work, sex, travel, church, homeschool. We fold them up and put them in a bowl or basket or whatever. Open a bottle of wine, and then draw a topic. Discuss, repeat.

We have come to look forward to this annual meeting because it gives us an opportunity to talk about the serious topics in a relatively neutral and isolated environment. It's usually pretty calm and civil, although sometimes there are hot button issues emerge from topics that neither of us expected. It's important to air that stuff out, though. Give it a try and work toward your own healthy relationship.

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