The other day Jason and I had our first 5 minute Stand Up meeting. The day prior, I didn’t know what a “Stand Up” , or Scrum, meeting, was. He, on the other hand, has known about, held, and attended these types of meetings at his places of employment over the years. He also facilitates group conversations, conference calls, team retreats, and regularly communicates with his bosses and teammates regarding his schedule.
Baby, now that we have 7 of these under our belts, Stand Up meetings are going to be part of our lifestyle, but with our own little twists and personal touches, like laughter, “the circle of trust”, and a smooch to close it out.
If I may be so bold to say, the 5 minute Stand Up meeting may quite possibly be the very thing that eradicates, or at least decreases, the growing divorce rate in the world. Sound far-fetched? Don’t be so quick to judge…instead, try it and see what happens.
Let’s rewind and give you a bit of history so you are able to see the bigger picture…
Jason and I have been married over 21 years now, and prior to that we dated for 2.5 years. We did a joke-of-a-premarital counseling book via my church, cross-country, with only one face-to-face session with an associate pastor who didn’t really know us from Adam. As lovers and best friends, we said, “we do” and jumped in with both feet, at the ripe age of 21. Over the years we’ve been in co-leadership positions together, received the same training, learned our mojo as a couple, tag-teaming our leadership styles, and really have had a pretty good go of it. We’ve read books about marriage and communication, applied some of the principles, gone to a weekend marriage retreat, mentored younger couples, practiced the “10 Second Kiss”, gone on date nights, and continued to hold hands. We have also remained friends, been in couple Bible studies, prayer, and accountability groups, and fostered and been part of beautiful friendship circles where we have dug (and continue to dig) into the true grit of one another’s stories, leaving very little unexposed.
We have also hurt each other’s hearts fiercely, me with words, gripping tightly to offenses, erecting heart walls, and pridefully thinking I can do certain things without his help…him with few to no words…which, in my heart and mind, speaks millions of potential messages.
I will admit I am a verbal (or written) processor. Jason is an internal processor. I am passionate and animated. He faithful and stoic. For anyone who knows us, it’s a joke that he speaks very few words in a day, so when he does, baby, you better perk up and listen. The truth is, for his job he speaks lots and lots and lots of words, but I’m not that girl that’s going to buy the line about him using them all up with his colleagues and so when he’s off work, he has nothing left to talk to me about, but just relishing in the comfort of home, my unconditional love, and down time.
One of my best friends asked after a year of knowing me if Jason was mute. I’m NOT kidding. So when she learned he could indeed speak, she wondered if he liked her or not, given he hadn’t spoken any words to her.
He talks to me. But there’s that part of marriage where we don’t want to have to draw or drag or nag something out of someone…or that part where we expect or think they should just know what we are thinking or what it is we want from them…
Don’t get me wrong, he and I talk, and he talks to his colleagues and his friends and family. But on any given day when we’re juggling homeschool, a famously curious preschooler, a career from home, searching for time in a day for me to get in some writing, and all the ins and outs of life in general, many marriages lack intentional communication. Some are great at regular date nights. We are. Ask our babysitter, Bina. But 2 hours, once a week or every other week, don’t make a marriage go round, and certainly don’t allow it to run deep. That’s just maintenance.
In December as we were driving cross-country for the holidays, this happened in the car:
Jason: (out of the blue, nonchalantly…) Hey, next weekend when we get to Denver we’re having breakfast with Gary Bruegman (a marriage counselor).
Me: (cool with it, not in a paranoid voice…) Ok. Why?
Jason: (casually, matter-of-fact…) Because you said you wanted to do some marriage counseling.
Me: (uhhhh….) Yeah, I’ve been saying that for 21 years, but, sure, I’ll take it…
No. It was not up to Jason to make the phone call. I could have made a phone call years ago. The funny thing is, we’ve already told Emily that as a pre-wedding and post-honeymoon gift, we are giving her and her husband a couple years worth of marriage counseling…to start out with great resources and a neutral third-party advocate, basically to learn how to hear one another. Emotions and feelings and passion run deep, but a couples’ first year and first fight can throw up some pretty powerful walls, and we want to encourage the art of conversation and communication, as well as quick and true forgiveness, for our children and the important people in their lives before they are too shut down to call a counselor…because when you call a counselor as a last resort, often the walls aren’t just walls but fortresses.
Jason and I have learned through trial and error and tears how to fight fair, not to diminish the other person, holding them dear in our hearts, even as we disagree. This wasn’t always the case. When Jason and I were dating and we’d disagree, I had to “win” the disagreement, he had to agree with me, and I needed to be right. Period. I had never learned it was okay to disagree. My parents disagreed behind closed doors, and as one of 3 daughters of a very protective father, his word was law. Set free into college as a young woman, it was my turn to exercise my definitive opinions and decisiveness.
It rocked my world to have a mature, educated man (Jason) say to me, “It’s okay to disagree. We can have differing views and opinions and still be okay. It doesn’t mean I’m the boss of you.”
Huh. Novel concept…
And believe me, we don’t see eye to eye on some things, but we respect one another in the process, hear the other’s perspective, try to honor one another in it, and no matter what, at the end of the day, we choose love above all else. We pray together before bed, always kiss good night, and have tried diligently to practice forgiving quickly. 21 years makes a habit.
But I digress…
So, then, as we were driving to breakfast to meet the marriage counselor (a gem of a man, our dear friends’ dad, and a wise soul who also does weekend intensives…one in which we’ll be participating), this transpired:
Jason: (casually, but deep down, a little sassy…) So, what do you want to talk to Gary about?
Me: (looking sideways, bratty, with a “don’t make me smack you” kind of look…) I don’t know. You’re the one who called him…
Then we both smirked and probably talked about the unknown and adventure of our vagabond lives….
You see, marriage counseling isn’t bad and it isn’t only for times of crisis. In fact, it’s an excellent tool to utilize WHILE you are still friends, still in love, still speaking, still having sex…profound, huh?
Gary didn’t tell us about the Stand Up meeting…in fact, Jason did. He put into words what I suggested, which was simply, “Hey, outside of us praying together and reading the Bible, can we just meet for 5 minutes each morning and give each other a run down of our days?!” But Gary did talk to us about the simple act of connecting through intentional communication…that many marriages have the physical part down, and even the spiritual part, but the emotional parts need tweaking, not separately, but the three working together as a whole.
A “Stand Up” meeting is simply done standing up, hence the name. The idea is to stay focused, on point, and simply check in with your team.
This little tool and intentional 5 minutes of our morning, and sometimes before bed as well, has been quite a gift to me, at least. I’ll see if I can get Jason to write his version and take on it, so as maybe to convince some guys out there that communicating with their wife or girlfriend isn’t the worst thing in the world…and is highly beneficial all around.