Try This At Home - Working Date
While the Fun Date is the number one assignment I give to couples who want to improve their marriage, the most impactful assignment is the Working Date. Couples who commit to a consistent Working Date find their marriage changes significantly, and for the better.
Regular staff meetings are an important part of any successful business. When run efficiently they provide a forum for keeping everyone up to date and on the same page. They also allow us to head off potential problems before they begin causing damage.
We often fail to realize that at one level our marriage is a business.
A husband and wife are partners in the business of growing a strong marriage and home. Very few marriages, however, schedule regular business meetings to manage the work of their marriage. This is the intent of the Working Date.
A Working Date is a regular hour block each week when a husband and wife come together to work on their marriage. In contrast to a “Fun Date” where no business is allowed, the working date is set aside to do the business of marriage.
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This assignment is available as a PDF handout. Feel free to download and print it.
Well run business meetings follow a set of rules or guidelines designed to keep them focused and efficient. Robert’s Rules of Order is the most common set of meeting guidelines. Robert’s Rules is too formal and restrictive, but good Working Dates establish basic guidelines, or rules also. Over the years, I have learned the following are valuable:
- Set aside a consistent hour in your week for a working date. Keep the time sacred, don’t allow other opportunities or commitments to crowd it out.
- Each spouse is responsible for getting themselves to the meeting on time. When scheduling a time, pick a place to meet. You can always move it, but have a standard meeting place. “We’ll meet every Tuesday at 8:45 (or right after the kids are in bed) at the dining room table.”
- Begin the meeting with an affirmation of each other. State something specific you have noticed in the last week that you appreciate in your spouse.
- Pray. Just a quick word of prayer that God would guide you through your working date should be sufficient to start you on the right track.
- Agree on an agenda. This might be from an ongoing list of items or it might be the “hot topic” of the week.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes (20 minutes if this is a particularly hot topic). Choosing a timer that will beep when the time is up frees you both from the task of monitoring the time.
- Begin the discussion. Take turns and use good communication skills (see IntimateMarriage.org for our recommendation). Call a “Time Out” if the conversation becomes too escalated.
- The timer going off is the equivalent of a 2 minute Time-Out. Both spouses go silent when the timer goes off. Take 2 minutes to reflect. Is the meeting going well? Are you actively listening to your spouse? Do you feel you are being heard? (Not do they agree with you, but have you been heard.) Are both of you calm enough to move forward?
– If either of you do not want to go forward, the meeting is over.
– If both feel you are making progress and agree to keep going, you can set the timer for another 30 minutes and continue the meeting.
– You CANNOT go past the second timer for ANY reason. This is a critical rule in the process that cannot be broken.
- If you have unfinished business at the end of your Working Date, it can either wait until next week’s meeting or you can schedule another Working Date. (No sooner than 6 hours.)
- End the Working Date with an affirmation (encouraging what each other did that worked well in your Working Date) and a prayer if you wish.