For couples, adding this one thing to your routine may leave you feeling more relaxed, connected and ready to tackle the week ahead.
Stephanie Booe, a content creator and motherhood blogger in North Carolina, made a now-viral video about the ritual that has kept her seven-year marriage stronger than ever: scheduling a weekly meeting with her husband Alex. Since it was posted on Instagram in January, the video has been viewed more than 12 million times.
Every week, over a cup of tea, the couple dedicates 45 minutes to looking at the family calendar and mapping out the coming week.
“In our meetings, we talk about appointments, meetings, dinners or time with friends that we have planned, as well as meal planning, groceries, overall budget, weekend plans and how we can serve others during the week, ” Booe told HuffPost.
Usually, both parents do this on a Sunday evening after the children are asleep. They started implementing these weekly checks about a year ago on a casual basis. After seeing the difference they made, the meetings are now a “non-negotiable” part of the week.
“We have two kids, and we both work so as you can imagine, our schedules can get a little chaotic at times,” Booe said. “We were tired of feeling scattered and out of sync. We had to find a way that we could not only connect, but to sit down and organize our lives in a better and healthier way.”
“It’s 100,000% worth it,” she said. And her only complaint is that “they didn’t do this sooner.”
This practice improved Booe’s marriage, as well as the daily functioning of their family, she said. In one case, they noted that they argue less since a weekly meeting was implemented.
“We don’t have any misunderstandings like, ‘Wait, I didn’t know you were empty,’ and we don’t fight about what’s for dinner because we’ve already dealt with all these things,” a said Booe. “We go into the week knowing what to expect and we know what we have for each dinner. That way, if one of us is busy or has to work late, the other person can skip dinner because the food is there and the meal is already planned.”
It helps their home “run like a well-oiled machine”, she said, and creates a strong foundation for their family.
Adam Albrite is a marriage and family therapist at Act2Change Therapy & Wellness Center in Atlanta. He told HuffPost that weekly check-ins like the ones the Booes were doing are “fundamental to relationship stability” and can “increase relationship satisfaction.”
“Regular meetings are good for building trust and a sense of security between partners. They’re like little reminders that even though life is crazy right now, at least I know you’ll show me next Sunday,” he said. “That can be powerful when you’re coming from the love of your life.”
The consistency of this practice can also help regulate the nervous system by reducing stress and uncertainty, Albrite added.
“Routine meetings are good for building trust and a sense of security between partners.”
– Adam Albrite, marriage and family therapist
He encourages couples to have weekly meetings because they “de-clutter the practical parts of adult love relationships”. However, he admits that the idea might not appeal to everyone.
“Does it feel sexy and spontaneous? It certainly doesn’t look that way on his face,” Albrite said. “In fact, some couples even avoid this type of structure for fear of over-engineering their lives and relationships. Others avoid this idea because of childhood motivation – for them, family gatherings only happened when something was wrong or as a punishment.
For that reason, he recommends couples ease into the process slowly and without it feeling too formal.
“I fully support these meetings feeling casual at first,” Albrite said. “It’s hard enough to start a new habit without it feeling like just another meeting at work or just another calendar item. So, my suggestion is to always start slow and casual. The best lifestyle interventions have a soft launch, start simple, and ramp up over time.”
“The point is to connect and try to put out fires before they even happen.”
– Stephanie Booe, maternity blogger and content creator
If you’re interested in trying the weekly meeting, Booe has some advice: Get started. Choose a time to sit down and chat and be intentional about it. You will work out the kinks as time goes on.
“Make sure you both come to the table with ideas or topics to discuss so that one person doesn’t feel the pressure to lead,” she said. “Talk about the hard stuff! Talk about the budget and shout at each other if someone is overspending. Talk about meal plans and what meals you both want to have. Talk about who will cook or get the groceries. The point is to connect and try to put out fires before they even happen. So be real and raw and talk about the things that will help your family move forward.”
Some people told Booe that the marriage feels “business-y” when they have a weekly meeting on the calendar. But she said it’s a way to be proactive about keeping the relationship healthy.
“Marriage takes effort. It takes work. This is what marriage looks like in real life. Sitting down with each other and talking about the hard things to make sure you’re both working to move that needle forward,” Booe said. “Instead of thinking of this as a ‘business meeting’, think of it as a ‘dream session’. A time when you and your spouse can sit down and dream together.”
You can talk about things like vacations you’d like to take and how you’ll save up for them, for example.
“It’s all about your attitude, and if you’re in a negative headspace, you’re not going to have any fun with it,” Booe said. “But if you take a step back and change your mind, you’ll see that this is an opportunity for you to build the life of your dreams with your best friend and that alone deserves 45 minutes out of your week.”