How Stretching Pays Off…in Yoga and Marriage

Physical Trainer Assisting Woman With Leg ExerciseI’m a big fan of yoga. It brings many benefits. Yoga improves posture and flexibility. It improves our mental state so we’re more centered, intuitive, and accepting of what comes our way. It purifies us mentally, cleansing our minds of the negative aspects of our thought patterns.  

This is all wonderful on an individual level.

How about when it comes to relating to your “significant other?” Can you imagine how good it would feel to have a way to keep clearing the decks, to regularly clean up the mental and emotional clutter that tends to accrue in close relationships?

Actually, you can do this: by holding a weekly marriage meeting with your partner, using positive communication skills.

Spouses who are able to hold effective marriage meetings increase romance, intimacy, and teamwork. They deal with issues promptly and smoothly, usually arriving at win-win solutions.

What is a Marriage Meeting?

A marriage meeting is a short, gentle conversation with a simple, loosely structured agenda. Effective meetings foster more intimacy, romance, teamwork, and smoother resolution of issues.

The meetings provide a simple way for today’s busy, often overextended couples to improve their marriage and work through challenges by committing to meeting with each other once a week without distractions.

The agenda is followed in this sequence: 1) Express appreciation and gratitude for each other; 2) Coordinate chores and responsibilities for the coming week; 3) Plan fun “together” time as a couple, such as date nights and vacations; 4) Address and work through problems and challenges.

I’ve been teaching the marriage meeting program for over 18 years to couples (married, engaged, or committed) and to therapists. Follow-up studies of couples who continued to hold the meetings after participating in one of my Marriage Meeting workshops show that virtually all of them gained a significant increase in marital happiness.

Marriage Meetings and Yoga

It takes willpower and discipline to add a new routine to an already busy life. Being willing to change and to create change are qualities that inspire you to join a yoga class and move your body in new ways. Similarly, it can feel like a stretch to converse with your partner differently from your unusual way, with guidelines, agenda, and new communication skills.

Yet doing so reaps huge benefits. Many basically healthy couples can decrease the need for and cost of therapy, or eliminate it totally, by establishing this simple routine on their own.

How to Hold a Marriage Meeting

Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted, gives guidelines and step-by-step instructions for holding Marriage Meetings. If your marriage is already good, marriage meetings will keep it thriving. If you are facing unusual challenges, the meetings can help the two of you get back on track.

By following this program, couples find that they have a safe forum in which to air grievances or bring up sticky subjects, such as career changes or frustrations with the amount of housework that needs to be done. They become more flexible, creative, and resourceful as they stretch themselves into a great way to reconnect every week.

As a therapist, I’ve found that some couples who are not yet ready to hold the meetings and their own can succeed when I coach them through the process.

Communication Techniques Apply to All Kinds of Relationships

The positive communication skills prescribed for marriage meetings actually serve people in all aspects of their lives, from work to school to extended families to friendships.

When to Conduct Your First Marriage Meeting

Marriage and Relationship educator Sarah Karmely has been successfully counseling brides-to-be for over twenty years. Her advice to all: “Hold a weekly meeting with your husband. Ideally, start holding the meetings before the wedding, so you’ll get off to a good start for making them a habit.”  

I couldn’t agree more.

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