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A monthly routine that keeps our marriage on track


On our honeymoon to Bali in 2016, Charley and I spent time thinking about our intentions for our first year of marriage. What would be different now that we’re married? How can we support this next phase of our relationship? What do we both want out of our first year of marriage?

My husband and I on our wedding day, embracing between two redwood treesPhoto by Ryan Sin

Through these discussions, we landed on a single strategy that has been game changing for us: a monthly family checkin.

On the first Sunday of every month, we have a standing calendar invitation to debrief the previous month and prepare for the next month. We keep track of our agenda items and discussion outcomes in running Google Doc. Here’s how we structure our discussion.

1. Check in on finances.

Prior to our family checkin, we each categorize our individual expenses in Mint. We use this time to discuss our savings goals, our spending and any potential investment opportunities. By ensuring that we each have access to the same information about our finances, we can both meaningfully participate in our family’s financial decisions.

2. Check in on last month.

Next we’ll take a look at the notes and to-do items from our previous family checkin. We’ll cross off anything that we accomplished and make a note if we decide to drop an item. We’ll carry over any items that still need action or attention.

3. Prep for the following month.

Finally, we take a look at current agenda items and add any additional ones that either of us may have. Discussion points range from travel plans, financial decisions, special occasion commitments, bureaucratic crap, purchase decisions and life changes. If any to-do item comes up in our discussion, we’ll write it down and put one of our names next to it.

Here are the notes from our most recent family checkin:

2/4/2018

  • Charley: going through interview processes, getting a job!
  • Settling into our Boulder Airbnb
    • Getting things we need
      • Bedding
      • Kitchen supplies
    • Unpack everything we will need and give it a place
    • Get clear on cleaning responsibilities
  • Keto – aiming to start week of 2/11
    • To Buy:
      • Strips for ketone meter – Charley to buy
      • Fat (mct oil, cream or coco cream)
      • Electrolytes – Charley to research
    • To Do:
      • Natasha: Weekly meal planning
  • Sleep schedule
    • Aiming to be home by 8:30 – heads up if planning to stay out later or running late
  • May/June wedding travel
    • Natasha to book flights

Really simple, right?

In the span of an hour, Charley and I are able to get a handle on what’s going on with our family and how we’re doing financially.

Not only does this routine help us manage life’s small details, it’s also helped us make big moves, like quitting our jobs and taking a mini-retirement in Bali. Without having a firm grip on our finances or being in touch with our shared goals, we wouldn’t have been prepared to make such a big decision.

How does your family, household or community make decisions? What other formats help you facilitate important discussions?

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