How Justin and I Prep for Important Discussions

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I shared in this post that Justin and I have a routine of taking some time at the beginning of every calendar year to set some goals for the new year, reflect on the year prior, and generally discuss if we are heading down a path we want to be heading down.

You can read more about what kinds of topics we cover in this post.

Recently on Instagram Stories (come follow along!), I shared that we set up another “meeting” to prep for the Fall and I received a few questions via Instagram inquiring to know more about that time. I hope this blog post helps you as I shed a little bit more light on how Justin and I prep for serious discussions.

Justin and I have been married for 11 years! Like any long term relationship, we have the normal ups and downs, but I can genuinely say that I feel like we are both strong communicators and that has led to a lot of clarity and alignment for our marriage through the years.

Since almost everything we had anticipated for this upcoming Fall seems to be flipped on its head, we knew that we needed to make some decisions about our future, mostly focused around the kids, in August. So we picked a date, put it on the calendar, and had about a week to prepare individually for our chat.

A few topics we covered were school plans (we are doing 3 different things for education for our 3 kids), athletics, childcare, and a few others.

We spent a few hours covering all the topics we knew we had to cover, and ultimately finished the conversation with clear plans on what our next steps are! We both hate wasted time, so the fact that we can both efficiently and quickly talk through a few different topics is a great success in our eyes.

A few tips for handling serious or important conversations with your partner:

One. Set a date in the future when you are going to talk. This gives each of you time to think through and process on your own, before coming together to work on a solution or plan. Everyone processes through things differently, and time (if you have the ability to wait) allows for a sound, well-thought-out decision! 

Two. Have a list of topics you need to cover. This seems elementary, but it’s helpful to have a few bullet points of things you want to talk about so you don’t forget something. 

Three. Set tangible actions to follow up on the conversation. There’s little value in discussing plans and then not acting on them. Spend time to clearly set expectations for each other on who will tackle what, and what kind of timeline is expected. 

These tips have helped Justin and I communicate well throughout the years. Generally, I am a quicker decision-maker than he is, but he typically thinks of potential outcomes that I wouldn’t have imagined. Giving each other time to think on our own gives us both the ability to feel confident in our joint decision making.


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Hildy says · 08.12.20

This is such good advice! We don’t usually set a date to discuss things, but we do give a heads up, maybe a day or two in advance, so the other person isn’t blindsided by a “heavy” or important discussion. We also tend towards a more circular pattern of discussing, especially with big decisions- we’ll talk about it first, but we don’t usually make any final decisions until we circle back a day or 2 later, so that we each have time to think about any other potential issues/ideas that we may not have thought of immediately.

Madison says · 08.13.20

Yes, follow up is so important! We tend to follow this conversational cadence as well.

Linda Culp says · 08.12.20

You two are wonderful role models for a successful marriage. If couples took more time to do this, a lot less divorces would occur. I’ve been married almost 33 years and I’m still learning helpful information! 😘

Renee says · 08.12.20

I love this!
I’ve been doing a monthly relationship check-in with my partner of 2 years since the beginning of summer. We modeled it on a structure we found on this podcast We love that there’s a dedicated time to talk about all the things that you might want to say, “when the time’s right,” and because the check-ins have a regular cadence, they don’t have the same emotional weight of, “Hey, i want to talk about this tough thing. Can we make time on Friday?” that might otherwise come out of the blue.

Through this process, we’ve caught a couple of things early that might have wound up festering and building up a bunch of resentment if we didn’t have a safe space and dedicated time to address it. So good! highly recommend!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog says · 08.12.20

Thanks for the tips! 🙂

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

Abigaile says · 08.12.20

What are athletics?

Macy says · 08.14.20

Sounds like a transactional meeting agenda and how I talk to colleagues.

Alisha says · 12.11.20

Thank you for sharing this information. I think this will be very beneficial for my husband and I!