Weekly [relationship] stand-ups

You’ve probably heard about daily stand-up meetings at work. But have you ever tried a weekly stand-up meeting at home?

Several years ago, back when were were just dating, my now-husband Jason texted me with the phrase anyone dreads most: “Are you free tonight? We should talk.”

This naturally sent me down a spiral of despair. What’s wrong? What is happening? What did I do?!

When we met up later that night, he shared an observation with me: We are very different people. And, as it turned out, there were quite a few little things I’d been doing all along that really bugged him — the clingy way I texted him even when I knew he was working a full day of tech in the theatre, the way I behaved with certain friends of his, even the way I sometimes kissed him felt a bit “off” to him.

I listened patiently to each of these concerns and then laughed.

“None of these are that big of a problem,” I responded. “Look, you should just tell me on days when you’ll be nonstop working, and I won’t text you. I don’t need to enjoy spending time with all of your friends equally, so you should feel free to have whatever separate friends you like. And as for the kissing, that feels like something can just practice, no?”

By the end of that conversation, it became pretty clear that there wasn’t actually a massive underlying problem that was putting our entire relationship in jeopardy. The real concern was that we hadn’t discussed any of those “little pet peeves” earlier on. As a result, after months and months of dating, they avalanched on top of each other, resulting in one macro grievances session that felt like there was no way up.

Following a long discussion, we both felt pretty good about where we stood and left in much better spirits (and with action items). But I did have one request: We couldn’t wait six months or more anytime we had feedback to share with each other if we wanted this relationship to work. So, starting that Sunday, I suggested that we add a “weekly check-in” to our routine. Each week, we would receive a calendar notification to remind us to check in with each other and give the other person an opportunity to share any feedback — something they liked, something they didn’t, or progress on something we decided to work on together.

While sharing this story with an entrepreneur last year, the idea immediately resonated with him. “Oh! So you have a weekly stand-up! That’s a great idea.”

It’s now been more than six years since that initial relationship debacle check-in, and our “Sunday night check in” has remained on the calendar ever since. Some weeks we have a lot to share, some we have nothing at all. During weeks when we are both out of town, we skip it altogether. But it’s been one of my favorite relationship habits.

Our weekly stand-ups don’t exempt us larger-scale conversations or prevent the unscheduled Big Talk. But it does mean that, whether good or bad, we try to set aside time to assess how we’re doing on a regular basis. And this explicit opportunity to give and receive feedback has helped us cultivate a culture of open communication that I believe gets stronger week after week.

Happy Sunday.

Written by

GM @USV, alum of @StackOverflow and @NorthwesternU, board member at @CompSci_High and @NUalumni, co-founder of #BeyondCodingNYC

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