Do you want to strengthen your relationship? Or do you cherish your partner but find yourself wishing for a deeper connection?
If so, you’re in the right place because, in this article, we’re going to delve into a transformative technique that has the potential to improve your harmony, create deeper understanding and bring you more connection in your relationship.
It will also cause a ripple effect throughout your relationship, bringing you and your partner closer and improving your connection and communication skills.
One of the key stumbling blocks in relationships is often around the skill of communication, particularly during challenging topics or disagreements.
When we can remove that issue and create a safe and secure way of expressing our needs, we become more open and honest with our partner.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that by finding harmony at home we’re more likely to unlock our potential for success generally.
In this article, I’m going to share a powerful technique that not only bridges this communication gap but also creates a profound understanding of your partner’s perspective.
In harmony together, we become more equipped to solve future problems more effectively, making this one small technique an invaluable tool for improving the relationship.
What Isn’t Working in My Relationship Communication Skills?
Before we dive into the technique, let’s take a look at what’s happening right now.
Ask yourself this question, as a guide to your starting point.
When things break down and go soggy, how good are your communication skills (as a couple) on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being terrible and 10 being perfection)?
When considering your answer, imagine one of the difficult times. We aren’t talking about daily chit-chat but rather those moments when you have opposing opinions of each other, your partner is doing something you don’t like, or you feel a distance growing between you.
Whether you score yourselves a 1 or a 10 this technique is going to be helpful.
If you’re already great communicators this will be a fun activity that you will both enjoy. On the other hand, if you struggle to explain your pain points to one another, this could be the saviour of your relationship.
Creating a Safe Space
One reason we struggle to communicate in a relationship is because we play the blame game.
This may not be a conscious action, but deep down we feel that we are right and our partner is wrong.
And while this blaming behaviour will vary enormously, from just a teensy feeling to outright blaming and shaming our partner, for this exercise it doesn’t matter how far along the blaming line you are.
This exercise will bring you one step forward, step by step from wherever you’re starting, finally ending in the peace and harmony of non-blaming communication.
So what is non-blaming communication? And how do we avoid being offended by our partner?
When we use mindful communication methods, we truly listen to our partner and we create a safe space so that our partner feels secure. He or she knows that he/she can say whatever is on his mind without being verbally attacked by you.
Mindful communication takes into account your partners:
- point of view
In an argument situation, we often forget that our partner also has a story to tell. It is never all one-sided. There are always two sides to the story.
But because we feel so justified, we close down the channels of communication and we allow ourselves to wallow in feeling hurt. Often we may discover that we don’t truly love ourselves and by healing our own self love we can heal our relationships.
What is This Technique That Can Save or Improve My Relationship?
The technique which I am sharing is all about creating a space where you are open to sharing your heart with your partner and in turn, you to really listen with an open heart.
We create this safe space by choosing a day, let’s say once a month, to meet up and hold space for one another.
I call this a Marriage Meeting.
If you stop and think about it, we hold business meetings to ensure the smooth running of a company, we hold staff meetings to check that the employees are doing ok, and we visit regular parents’ meetings with the teachers at the school for our kids.
But we never dedicate the time or energy to actually check in on our own marriage. Why is that?
* I use the word ‘marriage’ in the loosest sense of the word. This could be a relationship, partnership or any kind of friendship where you are building a co-life together.
You may like to investigate what mindset coaching is and how it can help unleash your inner strength.
What Is a Marriage Meeting?
A marriage meeting should be fun and in harmony. It isn’t an opportunity to voice all your criticisms. On the contrary, a marriage meeting is a safe space for sharing with each other.
Its power goes way beyond the simple act of having the meeting. It builds new trust as you discover each other’s vulnerability all over again, like when you first met and there were no feelings barred from the conversation.
The marriage meeting has 3 simple sections to it.
- What went well this past month?
- What didn’t go well (this past month)?
- What will/would I do differently?
It’s super important to follow the structure and the rules for a marriage meeting as that’s what creates the power it has to increase our connection.
The Three Essential Rules for a Marriage Meeting
There are three rules and they must be agreed to 100% before each meeting.
- I will not speak when it is my partner’s turn.
- I will listen with 100% attention and an open heart.
- I will use non-accusatory language when I speak.
Other Tips for Success in a Marriage Meeting
- The meeting should be a warm and fun experience.
- Always speak with care for your partner.
- Avoid accusations, instead share ‘your’ feelings.
- Truly listen to your partner whenever they are speaking.
- If you feel accused, bite your tongue until it’s your turn to speak and then don’t accuse your partner of accusing you!
- Compassion is key.
Question One: What Went Well This Month?
When your partner is talking about what went well this month, you may find it surprisingly touching or interesting to hear what touched them, which moments they appreciated most and which points were the most important from their perspective.
This first question is a lovely activity in its own right and it enriches the habit of appreciation and gratitude, both of which produce more positivity in a relationship.
Partner A answers question number one while partner B just listens. When partner A has finished, partner B will take his or her turn to speak about what went well this month.
This is a great activity for getting us to focus more on the positive and to recognise what we have that we are lucky for.
Question Two: What Didn’t Go Well?
This is your opportunity to share the things which you would like to be different. When you speak in this section it’s important to speak in sentences which begin with ‘I’ rather than ‘you’ and to keep your speech to how you felt rather than accusing your partner.
This isn’t about blaming one another, it’s about sharing how you feel. When we can do that openly and when our partner understands or gets a glimpse into our hurt feelings, then our relationship will begin to change.
For example, if your partner had told you to ‘shut up’ and you had hated it, rather than saying, ‘Well, you told me to shut up so that wasn’t exactly a good experience for me, was it?’
Instead, try focusing on you and your feelings: ‘I felt sad when we were at our neighbours and you didn’t want me to speak. The actual words you used made me feel as though you didn’t love me and that made me feel even more scared.’
Remember, your partner should just be listening to you. This is not the moment for defending our actions or offering our opinions.
If you promise to keep respect for your partner at every moment, you’ll be surprised at how many difficult topics you’ll be able to unravel and share and heal effectively.
Question Three: What Would/Will I Do Differently?
This is when the magic happens.
This is your opportunity to think about what your partner has said and to decide whether there’s anything you could do differently.
For example, if you were the partner in the example above and you’d said ‘shut up’ to your other half, you could offer to be more aware of using kinder ways to express your feelings at that moment.
But what if you can’t offer to change?
That’s also fine, as long as it’s spoken with compassion.
For example, let’s imagine that my partner was fed up with me being vegan.
That isn’t something I would be prepared to change, so instead, I would express my understanding that he gets fed up with it. Just understanding can go a long way to healing.
I would also explain that I don’t feel that it’s something I can change because it’s the essence of who I am.
Remember, compassion is key.
When to Hold a Marriage Meeting
Choose a time of the month that fits with you, for example, at the beginning of every month, in the middle of every month, at the end of every month or the first weekend of the month.
Once you’ve decided on the aim of the schedule, make sure to stay flexible. If you’re having a stressful day on the first of the month, leave the meeting for when you’re both feeling more at ease.
Of course, if you’re always stressed, then it would be best to set a time and a day and keep to it.
How Often Should You Hold a Marriage Meeting?
I’ve found once a month to be a perfect frequency for a marriage meeting but it will totally depend on your individual situation. If you both enjoy the experience and have plenty going on, you may choose to increase it to twice a month.
Alternatively, choose once a month but know that you can always call an emergency marriage meeting if necessary.
Troubleshooting a Marriage Meeting
- My partner accuses me even though we’ve agreed to the rules. The best thing to do is to keep being non-accusatory yourself and to gently point out how you feel. Take several meetings and don’t expect change to occur in one session. People get into the habit of speaking in accusatory ways and sometimes aren’t even aware of it. The first step to change is awareness.
- When it comes to question two, my partner says there’s nothing wrong. In this case, share the rule that even when things are going beautifully, you have to decide on the least beautiful moment of all the beautiful moments and speak about that. In other words, you always have to find something to share, even if it isn’t a full-blown problem.
- We end up arguing when we try the marriage meeting. Persistence is key. Wait until you’re both calm and then discuss what you think is going wrong. Which of the rules is being broken? Allow yourselves time to change and hold repeated meetings to grow the necessary skills. If you end up in arguments, you’re even more likely to benefit from the experience and skills that come from incorporating marriage meetings into your life.
What Will The Marriage Meeting Change in Our Relationship?
- Increased listening skills
- Encourages compassion for your partner’s point of view
- Strengthen the bond because you’ll have a safe space to share your feelings
- Allows you to raise topics that would have been swept under the carpet in the past
- Increases your gratitude and appreciation
- Allows you to choose which areas of your relationship could do with improvements
- Deepens your love level as you reach new levels of vulnerability.
Final Thoughts on Deepening Your Relationship with Marriage Meetings
No matter what it sounds like to you when you read this, I recommend you give it a try.
Approach it with an open heart and invite your partner to a marriage meeting. It isn’t therapy and it doesn’t mean your relationship is broken, so be sure to create an invitation that resonates with both of you.
This is about setting aside some time just for your relationship and giving it the priority it deserves so that it can flourish.
Mindset coaching is another way we can achieve transformation in our relationships either alongside the marriage meeting or starting before you feel ready to invite your partner.
Let me know how your relationship has grown because of holding marriage meetings! I work with people who want to experience a different reality to the one they’re creating and by harnessing the power of the mind as well as concrete techniques such as the marriage meeting, my clients can turn around their lives and achieve their goals.
Get in touch for a free consultation or to share your story!