“There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.”Homer, The Odyssey

20140826-075234-28354663.jpgAdmirable as it may be, but living with someone else, whether you live with your elderly parents, a roommate or roommate, a spouse or significant other, or with 100 strangers in a college residence, has its moments.

Around the time we became engaged, RM and I started periodic meetings which we call “The State of the Union” – yes, it is a pun. Yes, I came up with it. It seemed appropriate for our cross cultural relationship and marriage, and it seemed to sum up the importance of being intentional about how we go about life together. We were pretty good about these meetings happening once a month mostly via skype using an emailed agenda and notes (you’ll see the basic agenda we use below) until I arrived here in April. Although we’ve been having regular budget meetings, the State of the Union meeting went by the wayside for a while, until the last few months. We remembered how valuable they are.

Interestingly, one of my colleagues in Newcastle shared that she and her husband have regular “business meetings” as time they set aside to talk about the business of life together and as time they know they will have to discuss important, but perhaps difficult, topics.

This is not about being clinical or seeing our relationship as proprietary or transactional, rather it is about intentionally checking in with each other in the midst of life by setting aside some time. This may even be the basis for your own family meetings with children also involved.

I cannot for the life of me remember where I found the original outline for the agenda, but needless to say we have adapted it for our circumstances. I’ll share the skeleton of the outline for you to use as you might. As I mentioned above, this may also work for roommate situations, or extended families, as well as couples.

We have been less and less scheduled about these, but we will continue to make time for them as we both appreciate them when we do it. We also do not claim to be experts on marriage – we’ve got one year under our belts – but this is working for us. Take from it what you will.


SOTU Agenda

Start with Prayer…

Part 1 – Appreciation

I appreciate….

When do I make you feel joyful? Content?

When do I spark distress?

What should we do differently?


Part 2 – Making it All Work

  1. Scheduling/logistics/touching base
  2. Budget Review
  3. House(keeping)
    1.  Projects
    2. Maintenance

Part 3 – Good Times

  1. Date of our next date?
  2. Trip plans…
  3. 101 Items Status
  4. Plans for the future
  5. Goals
    1. What is our main personal goal for 2015?
    2. What is our main goal for our marriage in 2015?
    3. How can we support each other for these goals?
  6. Staying Physical
    1. work out goals?  plans?  progress?
  7. Traditions
  8. Caring for others
    1. Approach to giving
    2. Community Service

Part 4 – Problems/Challenges

  1. Bringing Home the Bacon
    1. RM job issues
    2. A job issues
  2. Life Management
  3. Marriage

Part 5 – Wrapping Up

  1. Review of action points and responsibilities
  2. Schedule next SotU
  3. Pray

That’s it – it can take a few hours on the first few tries but mostly we can keep it under an hour now. If it would be helpful to have a downloadable document let me know! Like everything I’m sure we’ll keep adapting it to suit our needs over the years – we already foresee that this could be a nice blueprint for a family meeting style situation.

Do you do something like this?

Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.

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Anna Blanch_Gill Gamble_blogAnna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born writer and photographer. You can follow her adventures on 31 ButtonNot A Pedestrian Life, or Facebook. More of her photography can be viewed here. For more domestic things take a look at Quotidian Home or her previous website, Goannatree.

Anna Blanch Rabe
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