The “business of marriage” may conjure up visions of pre-arranged marriages or couples who are no longer in love with each other but stay together due to financial issues. That is not what this is about. This is about how to apply successful business practices to your marriage to keep your marriage from becoming a business.
Business management can be defined as “the process by which a company gets its employees to produce the greatest results with the least amount of effort using the resources available to them.” A marriage is a partnership that will likely grow to include children and become a “small business” called a family. The strength and health of the partner relationship is key to the “business” being successful. So what are essential practices of businesses and how can you apply them to your marriage and family?
Patrick Lencioni, best-selling author of several books on business management including The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, has outlined eight practices that can transform a business and in this case, your marriage.
- Engage Workers
- Reward Effort
- Be Vulnerable
- Stay Committed
- Seek Clarity
- Create Cultural Cohesiveness
- Focus Team Effort
- Hold Regular Meetings
All of these principles are valuable to contemplate and apply, but principle #8 is particularly useful for relationships, whether they be businesses or not. Couples can use principle number eight to achieve the other seven principles, and also to protect their together time from conflict.
Here’s how it works: The couple decides on a time to have their first meeting. Ideally, this is a weekly time of no longer than 30 minutes that is set aside to take care of business. The first meeting is different from subsequent meetings in that this meeting establishes the goals and the agenda for the couple’s meeting. By committing to weekly meetings and the agenda/goals, the partners are engaged and committed to the success of the marriage and are also creating a culture of cohesiveness (or “oneness”). Here is a sample outline agenda:
- Affirm positives from the previous week e.g. wins at work, improvements from last week’s list of “areas for improvement”
- Areas for improvement
- Safe time/place to bring up concerns e.g. time together, inattention to household chores, budget
- Weekly schedules
- Upcoming important events
- Other appointments
- Date night
- Dinner/grocery planning for the week
A similar agenda can keep couples on the same page throughout the week and avoid the pitfalls of unmet expectations. Additionally, by setting aside a time to discuss “areas for improvement” it means that there are fewer daily “nags” or arguments. The understanding is that for bigger issues during the week, each person agrees to table the discussion until their meeting. This space between event and discussion allows emotions to calm and healthy communication skills to be used to work as a team to problem solve. Willingness to be vulnerable and ability to clarify is enhanced in this setting.
An additional bonus to having couple’s meetings is that by following an agenda and keeping minutes of your meetings, you are creating a journal of your journey together as husband and wife. This tool is a wonderful way to produce the greatest results in your marriage with the least amount of effort using the resources available to them thereby allowing more energy for the fun of marriage!
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