Sadly, separation and divorce is at an all-time high. However, marriages don’t end because of one large argument. Rather seeds of bitterness, resentment, or frustration are planted over time and are never addressed. This eventually results in a distant and broken marriage. This lack of communication is one of the root causes of tension in a marriage, but with the crazy and busy lives most people lead, purposeful communication can be difficult.
The solution? A Weekly Marriage Meeting. When Zach and I were first married, my mom approached us about the idea of having a weekly marriage meeting: a time set-aside each week where you and your spouse communicate about different areas of your marriage to avoid issues down the road. It’s a time of vulnerability, honesty, acceptance, and affirmation. It also keeps the lines of communication open throughout the week, so bringing up issues or concerns about your marriage as they arise is more natural. Zach and I have had a Weekly Marriage Meeting almost every week for 2 years and it has had such a positive impact on our marriage. We have noticed a stronger, more open, and more loving relationship as a result. And I earnestly desire the same for you and your marriage, whether you’re preparing for marriage, currently married, or have a broken marriage but are seeking reconciliation.
Purposeful and constructive communication in your marriage is possible and a Weekly Marriage Meeting is a great place to start.
How to Have a Weekly Marriage Meeting:
Pick one morning, afternoon, or night of the week that both you and your spouse are available to talk for about an hour. Have the date and time set-aside on your calendar that way it doesn’t get overlooked and is considered as important as your other tasks. For example, Zach and I talk every Sunday at lunch or in the afternoon, unless we have a conflicting event, then we move it to Monday or Tuesday.
Grab a cup of tea or coffee, settle into some comfy chairs or sit at your kitchen table and be prepared to give your spouse your full attention. Like I said earlier, this time is vulnerable and honest, so you want to make sure your spouse feels they are being heard. This is also the time to check your pride at the door and humble yourself to your spouses comments, as well as meditate on the gentle way you will communicate your comments. My recommendation is to start your meeting in prayer to prepare your hearts and minds for what is to be said as well as to invite the Holy Spirit to communicate your words properly to your spouse.
Then, starting with one spouse you go through a series of questions.
An example with the husband asking the wife:
1) What is one area you think you did really well this week in our marriage and why?
2) What is one area you think you could improve upon in our marriage and why?
After the wife has answered these questions, the husband will then respond with the following questions. It’s important that words of affirmation is always stated first. Your spouse needs to know they are loved and secure before you offer any constructive comments.
1) This week I think you did ________ really well in our marriage, because…
2) One area I noticed that I would like you to improve upon is __________ , because…
This format allows the wife to reflect on her own attitudes, words, and actions over the past week to state where she felt she loved her husband well, but also face the reality of where she needs to continue to grow and be sanctified. Then the husband is able to affirm his spouse with what he noticed she did to love him but also bring up any issues or concerns he may have observed or experienced throughout the week. Often times as affirmations or concerns are shared, the conversation goes deeper into heart issues that you may not have been aware of before beginning. It’s okay if the conversation veers off topic for a little bit if an issue needs to be further discussed. Once the wife has answered all of the questions and the husband has responded, the questions are now directed towards the husband. The questions can begin with either spouse.
The key is that this meeting is a time of safety in sharing, so the individual receiving correction should never feel attacked or demoralized. The comments should be gentle and well thought-out. Remember that the focus needs to be directed at the sin, not the person. Just remember that people change their attitudes and actions in response to grace and love, not judgement or punishment. When in doubt, answer and respond as Jesus would. If you are the one receiving corrective notes, our human nature is to be defensive of our actions and turn criticism directed at us back onto our spouse. But your spouse is not your enemy! You are on the same team. The real enemy is Satan and his attempts to place a wedge between you and your spouse.
The Weekly Marriage Meeting is a powerful tool in my own marriage, so be encouraged that as you continue to have these meetings, they will become easier and more natural. Most importantly, God is fighting for your marriage right alongside you. He desires for you and your spouse to be close and connected, so trust that He is present in these conversations. And where God is present, life change happens.