Issue #16 |May 2010

Today’s Topic: Take time to align with your partner

Deep listening is miraculous for both listener and speaker. When someone receives us with open-hearted, non-judging, intensely interested listening, our spirits expand.

-- Sue Patton Thoele

Our weekly meeting

Most couples juggle a myriad of tasks and commitments in any given week. Work, kids, household tasks, money, volunteer jobs, fitness, parents. My husband and I are no different.

So years ago my husband and I began the practice of having a weekly meeting. At the time, we were co-owners of a coaching business and raising two young children. There were many details to stay on top of and challenges to deal with. We found that setting aside quality time to organize, brainstorm and create our future together was not only effective; it also contributed to a real sense of shared partnership - even when our daily tasks looked very different.

My husband, who has a business background, referred to these as our "Vollett Family Inc." meetings. "Vollett Family Inc." encompassed the whole of our lives - the business, the family, our home and our dreams - and all of the responsibilities that went with those. Our meeting agendas included everything from marketing strategies to toilet-training to planning vacations.

We have discovered these benefits to a weekly meeting:
  • We are able to give each other quality listening and support, as we're not trying to problem solve or discuss important things on-the-fly.
  • We put some boundaries around our discussion of work, so that it's less likely to spill over into our romantic and private time.
  • We feel like creative partners - in work and in family life - even if we do different tasks and take different roles in those areas.
  • We are better able to maintain the balance between work and family and individual needs - and support each other in the process.

When we neglect to have this weekly meeting, we notice we feel less organized, aligned and connected with each other. The irritability factor goes up accordingly. When we meet regularly, we feel the benefits of being creative partners in our lives -- and the excitement, closeness and empowerment that goes with that.

If this idea appeals to you, here's how you and your partner can get started with your own weekly meeting. Set aside a minimum of one hour and put it into your schedules. Pick a time during the week that works best for each of you and be willing to have some flexibility as needed.

Here is an overview of the meeting format that works well for us:

1) Check-in.

Each partner takes a turn to share on these questions:

• What have been your “wins” this week? (What has gone well? What do you feel good about?)
• What are your current challenges?

During the check-in, there are no interruptions, questions, or discussion. Each partner shares until they feel done. The other partner simply listens and “gets” them.

2) Create an agenda.

What needs to be discussed? Make a list with suggestions from each partner. Some agenda items will arise from the challenges which are expressed in the check-in. Your agenda may include individual business/work concerns, joint business concerns, family/child issues, financial decisions or planning, relationship time (planning dates, get-aways, etc.) - anything you want to collaborate on or discuss.

3) Review agenda items and discuss as needed.

After discussion, decide on actions to be taken and who'll do what.

4) Scheduling

Look at your schedules for the coming week and make sure you're informed of commitments that could affect the other. This is a good time to allocate responsibility for commitments related to the kids and to plan social and work activities. In other words, "Who's doing what?"

When the agenda is complete, you'll both feel empowered to get on with what is on your plate for the upcoming week.

Problem prevention

Your roles will continue to change and evolve as your work and your family grows and changes. When you establish this regular forum, problems and concerns have a place to be aired and dealt with BEFORE they become major issues. This will help your organization and your marriage.

A weekly meeting is one of the ways that you can consciously align your lives, your work, your family and your relationship -- and manage your many and varied responsibilities in the process. It can also be a source of nurturance and fun!

Invitation to action

Experiment with trying out a weekly meeting with your partner. Try it for a month and evaluate the difference it has made. If you feel the benefit, you can make it a regular part of your relationship care.

Shirley’s Update:

I love to support singles in finding the relationship they desire. Contact me about the new and improved Conscious Dating Self-Discovery and Readiness Program. This comprehensive program can help you avoid past mistakes and give you the tools for making pro-active and healthy choices in dating and finding love.

Shirley Vollett BSW PCC is a Life and Relationship Coach, with over 20 years of combined experience in counselling and coaching. She delights in helping pro-active individuals make positive changes in their lives, their work/business and their relationships. Her clients appreciate her ability to listen deeply, her compassionate wisdom and her support in staying focused. Contact Shirley for a complimentary intro phone session. If you are experiencing a challenge or are eager to make some changes, explore how coaching works and how she can help. Click on a link below or visit her website at
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