Before Michael and I got married, one of our premarital discussions revolved around how to create our own family culture. Together, we brainstormed different “traditions” we’d like to incorporate into our marriage. One of these was a regular family meeting, a practice which we hoped would keep our lines of communication open and free. It would be a time not only to check in with each other, but to re-center our marriage.
During these two and a half years of marriage, our “family meeting” has evolved as we’ve figured out what works for us and what doesn’t. After some trial and error, we’ve settled on a rhythm of meeting each Tuesday to ask each other a series of questions, and then record our responses in a special journal. We call our meeting “Pilgrim’s Progress,” the name reminding us to strive towards continual growth, and to protect us against complacency.
After the first year of trying this idea out, we re-evaluated it and decided to continue this practice of coming together to simply talk. Though initially it felt a bit contrived [which I tend to be against in my relationships with people], I have come to regard these meetings as an essential part of our marriage. Not only does it create a safe space for us to share our thoughts, our feelings, and our dreams, but it’s also a time intentionally set aside to bring up any negative feelings that might have arisen during the week, calling us to a standard of grace and reconciliation. It’s a way to help us foster a habit of open communication and to deepen our love and intimacy.
We then end this time in prayer. Once a month, we also check in with the goals that we set together during our New Year’s personal retreat. We couple this first meeting of the month with a nice steak night at home, which I of course always look forward to.
This routine has helped both of us to grow immensely in our marriage, by teaching us humility in asking how to serve and be served, by nurturing dreams that we hold so dear, by encouraging transparency and truth with one another. Yes, it takes discipline; it takes commitment. There are weeks when neither of us feels like doing it because we’re tired, busy, or simply lazy. Depending on the week, these meetings can take fifteen minutes, or hours. Even so, the experience of allowing my husband to know me, and of learning to know him is ultimately a deeply rewarding aspect of marriage.
At the end of 2016, we re-read our Pilgrim’s Progress journal together, laughing at some of the silly things we said, and reflecting on the difficulties we encountered. We marveled at how in spite of our endless flaws and imperfections, by grace we have grown to love each other more and more, day by day. If at times I feel unmotivated to meet one week, or am unwilling to share, this journal serves a record to remind us of the good times, along with the bad. And as we remember, we fall in love again.