How we make decisions can greatly reduce stress in our lives. No where is this more impactful than in a marriage.
Here’s a 10-minute exercise my wife and I have been doing for years when one or both of us are stressed.
We call it a whiteboard session.
We sit at our whiteboard (or computer, pen+paper, etc) and go through these 3 steps:
- List out everything on both your minds.
Problems, commitments, questions, todos, frustrations … everything. Just write it all down. This process cultivates awareness of what’s on your mind (often stress can come from knowing there’s a lot of stuff but not being able to get your arms around it). Doing this with a spouse is a great way to increase communication (which is key for great marriages).
- Organize the list.
Group like things, start to order/prioritize. Is anything urgent? Put that toward the top. Any dependencies? Put those things together. The process of both talking about how to organize is (again) a great way to communicate.
- Decide how to handle the most pressing things.
Now let’s act. Which items need to get done next? Put them on your calendar or to-do list.
A bonus activity that can help is breaking step 1 into “What’s going well?” followed by “What’s not going well?” This can help by starting things on the positive.
While this activity is especially helpful for marriage, any partnership can use this process to get unstuck and move forward. I’ve also used this alone at times.
The act of writing down what’s on your mind, being a little more present, and intentionally becoming aware + making meaning + taking action is liberating. (tweet this)
This process above is a variant of a better decision process teams can use. You can use it with up to 8 people (a facilitator is a must once you go beyond a team of 3).
Every time my wife, Katrina (she writes @deliberatefamily), and I go through this, we find ourselves better able to breathe and more confident about moving forward.
Yes, I married up. 😁
The last lesson about reducing stress is that it’s not something many people share publicly. It’s easy to get jealous of everyone’s “perfect life” on social media when you only see the happy times.
But everyone has issues. Every company/marriage/parenting/relationship has parts that are very frustrating. We just need to work extra hard to remember that in today’s hyper-connected world.
Take time to do the activity tonight or tomorrow and see if you can reduce stress in your marriage!