When we were first married, Husband and I were not the best at communicating when we had plans with other people and thus when we would not be available to each other. I’d have dinner plans with a friend and would forget to tell him until one hour before, leaving him upset that he was on his own for dinner that night. Or, he’d forget to give me his drill dates for Army for the month, leaving me upset that we’d have to back out of the weekend plans I’d just made with other couples.
If you’re married, this probably sounds familiar. Good, constant, consistent communication takes practice. Lots of practice.
Older, wiser married women in my life suggested buying a big wall calendar, placing it in a prominent location in our apartment, and being diligent about updating it. That way, all our commitments and plans were in plain sight. If you want to schedule something for the household it is your responsibility to first check the family calendar. If one of us commits to doing something thinking the day/evening is free (because the calendar says so), but the other does have plans that they haven’t written on the calendar, that is their fault, and they better help figure out what to do about the new conflict.
This system has quelled so many potential arguments. At the beginning of each month, or as soon as we know we’ll have a commitment, we take a few minutes to write all our upcoming events on the calendar as well as verbally notify one another about what’s coming down the road. Once an event is on the calendar, it gets priority should a conflict arise. Of course there are exceptions for big things: weddings, funerals, important family events that crop up. But there’s no more arguing that “You didn’t tell me you were going out with your friends tonight!” or whining along the lines of “Really? You want to stay in and watch Netflix? You agreed to come volunteer with me tonight!” The family calendar has the final say.
Husband thinks organization in any form is boring, so we try to jazz up this task as much as possible. Last year we shopped for a calendar together and chose the illustrated, highly energizing “America!” calendar, which featured gems such as this:
This year, I won a hanging calendar that features inspirational quotes at a bridal shower, but in the spirit of keeping organization and communication fun, we’re thinking of picking up this calendar, too:
Whatever theme you might prefer, we highly recommend a family calendar. Know what each other is planning, know when you’ll be expected to tag along, and avoid arguments. It’s a good recipe for a happy new year.