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An 'executive session' for top family management

Ever thought of your family like a corporation?

The top management, in a two-parent family, would be those two parents. Probably the mom would be the CEO and maybe the dad would be the CFO.

Like any top management team, they would probably want to have an executive session once a week to review how things are going and to set some goals and perhaps make a few policy adjustments.

That might improve the organization and generate better results. It might cut down scheduling conflicts and get both managers on the same page. And it might even improve the relationship between the two managers as they work together on their common interests and objectives.

Early in our marriage, at the suggestion of a wise mentor, we started having a “Sunday Session” each week as a couple. We went through the schedule for the week ahead, did a little evaluating of the week just passed and tried to clear up any unresolved issues in our relationship and deal with any concerns we felt about the kids.

At first, it seemed a little odd to have to have a meeting with the person you live with, but the longer we did it, the more we realized how much we needed it and the more hooked we got on holding it “religiously” each Sunday. In fact, we decided that living together was the very reason we did have to schedule an actual meeting — a time we could count on to get a little more organized and to communicate a little better.

We decided that Linda was really the general partner for the “Inner” (what went on inside the home and inside the family) and Richard was the general partner for the “Outer” (what went on outside in the business). We had equal ownership in each, but the general partner, spending more time in his or her domain, could give a little report or update to the limited partner.

We also added an element that we simply called “testimonies,” in which each of us took a few moments to express our feelings and beliefs to the other. This quickly became our favorite aspect of the weekly Sunday sessions because it was the time that positive feelings got expressed and negative feelings got aired out and resolved. And we found that in the somewhat structured and spiritual setting of our weekly meeting, offense was seldom given and any festering feelings were let out and cleared up.

We figured out that even the setting and the environment for the Sunday session mattered. If you held a high-level management meeting at the water cooler or in the hall, it wouldn’t be as effective or meaningful as if you held it in the boardroom or the executive offices. Likewise, we found that if we just chatted in the car on the way to church or made a couple of catch-up comments on the way to bed, the experience was nowhere near as effective as actually sitting down in a conducive setting at a specific time.

In those first years, we would meet at the kitchen table or later on at the desk in the den, usually early, before the kids woke up, or late, after they had gone to bed.

More recently, we sit down at the “Taj Table,” an inlaid black marble table we shipped back from a stonemason’s shop in Agra, India, near the Taj Mahal. The table lends a certain gravity and weight to our meetings, or at least we imagine that it does.

It’s something that all of us know — that our marriages are our most important relationships and that our families are our highest priorities, but having a regular weekly meeting about the whole thing can provide the reminders and the refreshers that might help us to do a little better job on them both.

Single parents may want to try a similar meeting with older children or even with a grandparent. The bottom line is that something regular and structured can sometimes bring a bit more order to things that are not.

Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog and visit the Eyres anytime at