One night a few months back, my boyfriend and I told one of his friends about our impending move in together…
Our friend’s eyes grew wide, as though we had just announced we were planning to scale Everest.
“Living with someone can be…” he trailed off, searching for the right word. “Challenging.”
He told us that when he and his wife first moved in together, it was not without speed bumps. One person would silently stew or else blow up over something the other person didn’t even realize was an issue. After a number of such incidents, they instituted something they call House Meeting, which is a dedicated time each week when both people sit down to air grievances, share anything that came up that week, and generally check in about how everyone is feeling. He said it was a godsend.
“What I’ve found is that when you put a little distance between the thing that pissed you off and the time when you talk about it, you realize it’s not actually that big a deal,” he said. “It forces you to sit and process before you react. And because you know there will be a time to talk about everything, you don’t stew in the meantime.”
Fast forward a few weeks, when we had completely forgotten about our friend’s suggestion. Cue everyone sulking around thinking things like: Why was that rice pot still soaking in the sink? How hadn’t we realized that we keep completely different hours? Why didn’t I seem more appreciative that he had sold or donated pretty much all of his “wagon wheels?”
But then, we remembered our friend’s advice. In our household, I have re-named it Weekly Board Meeting, so coined because it allows me to justify “catering,” AKA snacks. Everything is better with snacks.
Having that time set aside makes it feel like communication is a priority, like drinking water or paying the electric bill. In a world riddled with busy schedules, dirty dishes, et al., it saves us from ourselves.
In self-help books and therapists’ offices across the land, the idea of a weekly meeting has been circulated under the banner of a “weekly review,” a “marriage meeting,” a “family check-in” — even a “radical truth conversation.” But the name matters not. Make up your own name! Build your own ritual around it! One friend finds it helpful to have relationship conversations while taking a walk. The more authentic it feels to you, the better. I am simply here to say, it works.
Do you have any relationship rituals? Or ways that help you communicate? We’d love to hear.
(Photo from Crazy Rich Asians.)