If your relationship is good, you shouldn't have to "work" on it, right?

Fairy tales promote the effortless happily-ever-after marriage myth when we are at an impressionable age. Later we view romantic movies and read novels with happily-ever-after endings.

Consequently, it's easy to develop unrealistic, fantasy-based expectations about marriage. Many of us spend more time maintain a car -- checking tire pressure, changing the oil, and getting the recommended inspections, and son on -than we spend on keeping our most important relationship in good working order.

Obviously, we humans are more complicated than cars. We have infinitely complex bodies to maintain. We also have feeling, different ways of thinking, different hopes and dreams. And then, when you put the two of us together...

Benefits of Weekly Meetings

Holding a weekly marriage meeting takes a small investment of time each week and yields a great return: more intimacy, romance, and teamwork; and smoother resolution of the kinds of concerns likely to arise in any close relationship.

Some people resist the idea of a formal meeting with their spouse. They think it sounds like work. Why not just talk about things as they come up? Talking on the fly sounds very nice, and that is fine if you are able to do this effectively.

But you might want to mention something when your partner is watching television, reading a book, or is otherwise occupied. You might be waiting for a right time that never comes. And if you do bring up a sensitive matter when it's the last thing your spouse is in the mood to discuss at the moment, you might feel like you have entered a minefield.

Similarly, your spouse may want to discuss a concern when you are busy. It is easy to take one's partner for granted, to forget to express appreciation. Chores can pile up or not be handled well. You may forget to plan dates and other enjoyable activities. By scheduling a time for a marriage meeting, you will get to reconnect every week.

Communicating with Intention

A wife who attended one of my Marin County, California marriage meeting workshops, continued to hold weekly meetings with her husband. She reports: "At first the process felt contrived, but after a few meetings we got used to the meeting's structure. I learned that it's much better to communicate with intention than to communicate without intention."

Weekly meetings foster direct, positive communication that addresses concerns at a time when both of you are likely to be receptive. You get to feel appreciated and valued, gain a smoother-running household by coordinating chores, and add romance by planning dates. Issues are resolved and challenges are met before they escalate into crises and grudges. Romance can continue throughout your marriage, but this usually will not happen automatically.

One small example of a benefit: When I'm home sometimes I wear a kerchief on my head that makes me feel like I look like a less than attractive peasant from the "old country." So I was happily surprised when during the Appreciation part of one of our weekly marriage meetings, my husband complimented me for looking "cute" wearing the kerchief. This gave me a warm feeling inside and an outward smile. We've been holding these meetings for twenty-seven years. I practice what I preach!

Information is power

You can learn just what you need to know how to hold effective marriage meetings before conducting one. Guidelines, a simple agenda, and positive communication skills are explained in detail and step by step in my book, Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted. Included are way to address the concern of how to convince a partner who's reluctant to hold a marriage meeting to give it a try anyway.

The payoff from investing in periodic maintenance on your relationship is that the two of you can to continue to enjoy love, intimacy, and passion; and an all-around satisfying relationship. Together, you can create and maintain a fulfilling marriage that lasts for the rest of your lives.

Author's Bio: 

Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW, is the author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted (New World Library). She is a psychotherapist and speaker who leads workshops for couples and singles.