Why I Added a 30-Minute Mandatory Meeting to My Husband’s Google Cal

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The idea of a recurring family meeting sounds tedious, but I’ve reached the point in my marriage where I have found them to be a standing, cannot-be-cancelled necessity.

How come? We’ve entered the era of the “family firm” as parenting expert and economist Emily Oster defines it. I’m also no stranger to the Slackification of American parenthood. (I’ve set up my fair share of Google docs and Trello boards in an effort to organize the chaos of marriage, motherhood and career.) Still, at the encouragement of my therapist, I realized the necessity of a dedicated—and weekly—sit-down with my husband where we look each other in the eye and sort out the details behind both small- and big-picture to-dos.

We set a time limit. But we also set a Google calendar reminder so it doesn’t go forgotten.

Our goal is to proactively address obstacles and trouble spots that are bubbling up and stay on the same page about the week ahead (but also life). So that might mean these 30 minutes are spent sorting out date nights where we need a babysitter, but it also could involve giving the other person a head’s up about a stressful workday on the horizon. (Hey, it helps to give notice that one of us might be out of commission, emotionally-speaking, that day.)

Back to those Google docs: Throughout the week, we’ll use them as a digital brain dump of sorts for our individual mental loads as they relate to our marriage, but also our 5-year-old. Ahead of our weekly chat, which takes place every Sunday night, a time when we’re both typically at home, we sort our list into a loose agenda to help keep the conversation organized and focused. (This helps us stick to the time limit, too.)

There’s also a major marital benefit to family meetings or huddles as relationship coaches and co-authors of The Argument Hangover, Jocelyn and Aaron Freeman, describe. It helps us put guard rails on the things on our mind—like the fact that we need to plot out holiday travel plans or streamline school drop-off so it’s less stressful—that have the ability to frustrate us or lead us to boil over at inopportune times.

Instead, the priority is on organizing our needs—both emotional and logistical—into a time when we’re both feeling receptive and respectful. The Freemans take it a step further, suggesting family meetings are also a good time to refill each other’s “love accounts.” On their Empowered Couples podcast, they’re clear: If you never check in on your relationship or ask ‘how are we?’, that takes a toll. Family meetings are a great time to ask about each other’s romantic needs, too.

In the short-term, family meetings can clear the mental clutter in a way that makes you walk around feeling like the logistics have been better managed. But in the long-term, as a couple, it can help you develop a closer connection and a better understanding of how to be true partners as you navigate the life you’re actively building together.

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Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...