John Curtis, Ph.D.
In my book, I discuss the importance of using a business model, and I do that for a variety of reasons. It’s new and different, frankly. It’s something most folks can relate to. And what I mean a business model is about the importance of writing a joint vision statement together. Just like a corporation, and your partner need to write out a vision statement for your family and future.
Sit down over the kitchen table, and write in certain terms the areas or dimensions of your life. It could be lifestyle. It could be leisure. It could be career. It could be spirituality. It could be lifelong learning. Begin to identify those categories that are measurable things that you want to achieve and the dates which you want to achieve them. It’s just like a business does a business plan or an organization might do a strategic plan.
You may say, “I want to get my MBA the time I’m 35. I want to get a new computer Christmas. And, I want to travel to Europe in 2015.” Things like that. Just begin to write those measurable objectives out on a regular basis, and that becomes a bit like a roadmap so that you can monitor along the way how well are you are doing against those measurable objectives. I think that can be really key to help folks feel they’re on track.
It’s easier for men. It’s a gateway activity because a man may quickly say, “Oh, yeah, we do this at work all the time because I’m on the sales team. Now, I’m doing it at home over the kitchen table, and it makes perfect sense to me.” Women can understand it also. But, it’s easier for a man, because it’s not a touchy-feely approach.
Now, the other side of the coin, just like it worked when you have a job description, you have marital objectives. You need to have a performance feedback method in place. So I recommend couples do that also. I recommend that they do it on the regular basis depending on the situation, even if the couple is happy, healthy, things are fine, and there are no big traumas. Maybe it’s only once a year. Newlyweds have lots of changes going on. Or maybe somebody’s laid off, you move to another town, or just had a ba. Maybe you need to do it once a month, but to sit down and give each other constructive feedback about how well you see the person doing against their job description is important. For example, if they said, well, I will do the housework, the groceries, and taking care of paying the bills online. But then you find that you’re getting late notices in the mail and running out of milk all the time. Then, guess what? Somebody is not doing their job.
So it could be as simple as filling out a form, where you have the task that one person is supposed to accomplish. Write out 1.) Does not meet expectations, 2.) Meets expectations, or 3.) Exceeds expectations. So both of you do that about the other. Then, you sit down and exchange forms. It’s a proactive, positive decision, not in the heated battle. You lay it out on the table, literally. You can say, “Here are the 11 tasks that you said you would do. In seven of them, you exceed my expectations. In three of them, you meet my expectation. There’s only one that isn’t quite working out, let’s work on resolving that together.” So you talk about it just like you would at business meeting.
I really advocate for couples to consider using a business approach and using the tools right out the world of work that most anybody can relate to. Vision statement, job descriptions, performance appraisals, medians and retreats, branding and marketing, mergers and acquisitions are all things that can be used for couples that are creating a future together as well.
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