Friday, November 14, 2014

First Quarterly Relationship Meeting

Inspired by this post on Offbeat Home & Life (and because I'm an accountant and like lists and goals and agendas), Abe and I decided to hold quarterly shareholder meetings. Basically, the point is to resolve issues - or potential issues - before they become a big deal, and take proactive steps to be constantly improving our marriage. I'm sure this will be even more important when we're balancing our needs with kids, but right now it's really crucial too, as we're still figuring each other out and determining the best way to relate to each other.

We finally had our first meeting yesterday (as we were both at home for the "ice day"). (As this was intended to be three months from our wedding, i.e., October 27, I'm realizing we're both at least a bit prone to procrastination on things like this.) 

A lot of things for this one were merely logistical things related to merging finances and such, like combining car insurance. Others were more emotionally loaded, but I think giving advance notice on the agenda, setting aside a time to talk about it, and then ending the conversation (for now) (i.e., the end of the meeting), provided a helpful venue to discuss them logically, without taking anyone by surprise or being insulted or made to feel inadequate by the topics needing to be discussed. Having a more guided, rather than open-ended, discussion helped us stay on topic and actually accomplish what needed to happen.

We started a shared Google document with agenda items a few weeks in advance, and also added to it during the meeting. I think the general categories will be fairly consistent as we continue our meetings (with "family planning" eventually just being "family" or "children"); it seems to cover the relevant aspects of life in which we need to make joint decisions or join forces on. During the meeting, we established goals for the upcoming quarter, and action items for each of us to take on items discussed.

Agenda Items
  • Finances
    • Determine amount to spend on charitable contributions for remainder of calendar year 2014.
    • Discuss ongoing charitable contributions habits.
    • Combine car insurance.
    • Set up at least one joint credit card. 
  • Relationship
    • Satisfaction with sex life.
    • Set up some sort of counseling discussions. (Note: we never got around to doing any premarital counseling; we both felt we'd addressed a lot of the common issues via online dating questionnaires and ongoing discussions, so it was never prioritized. But I did want to continue such discussions, especially as we are now looking at having kids and even more important to make sure we're on the same page, or establishing agreeable compromises, in certain areas.)
  • Household
    • Select wedding and honeymoon photos to print.
    • Evaluate division of chores. Is it working for both?
  • Community
    • Recurring volunteer opportunities to do together?
  • Family planning
    • What needs to happen/be planned prior to trying to conceive (TTC)?
    • Margaret to start on prenatal vitamins
    • Review timing spreadsheet with projected cycle dates. (Note: To try to schedule maternity leave as best as possible around my busy season at work, we have a small window for our first attempt at TTC, so this spreadsheet existing isn't quite as OCD is might sound.)
    • Start reading books/research about pregnancy, childbirth, and babies. Consider checking out one book per month library to both read?
Goals for upcoming quarter
  • Have monthly date nights (not with a group or parents/in-laws (much of our social life is hosting game nights and dinners with his parents)).
  • Attend tree-planting event in November.
  • Have sex X times per week (being a blogger I suppose means one is predisposed to overshare to strangers on the internet, but the specifics of that goal isn't one I'm sharing. :) )
Action items
  • Abe: Look into prenatal vitamin requirements and do cost comparisons.
  • Margaret: Contact AAA agent for joint insurance options. Add Abe to two specific credit cards.
  • Both: Will have two pregnancy books at a time, each reading, making notes, swapping, reading the other, then discuss both.

If you're married or in a long-term relationship, what did you find was the hardest thing in living together or merging life stuff? What's your most important tool to effectively communicate with each other?

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