Symphony Night

January 10, 2011

I love Symphony Night!!!   We got this great idea from our sweet brother & sister, Jason & Claire, and it’s such a great idea and has so totally improved our communication as a couple I just had to share.

Webster defines the word symphony as, “something that in its harmonious complexity or variety suggests a symphonic composition.”  Some synonyms that Webster gives us are, “balance, coherence, symmetry, harmony, and unity.”  Don’t you wish those words described your marriage!?

When we were dating & first married it seemed as if our communication skills were perfect.  I knew exactly what Tim meant at all times and he knew what I meant.  It just worked.  It’s sad to say, and I’m not sure why, but over the past couple of years our communication skills with one another have, instead of sharpening and getting better, seemed to worsen.  I’m sure I can’t be the only one who feels this way about her marriage.

Tim suggests that this is not entirely true: that we still communicate the same way as we always did, we just have upped our expectations of each other into realms that are completely unrealistic and so it seems as if we don’t communicate as well when in fact, we would if we would lower our expectations back down to where they were years ago.

Maybe he’s right, I don’t know, he usually is, but I do know that we are not always “balanced” or “symmetric” or “harmonious” or even “unified” and so Symphony Night has been a huge blessing.

The way it works

  1. We each have subscribed to the same dropbox.  (Here is the website to get your own dropbox)  Basically it’s an online folder that more than one user can have access to in order to store files. On our dropbox we have a Word document entitled, “Symphony Night List.”  Whenever one of us thinks of something that we need to discuss with the other person, we open the document and add whatever that issue is to the list. (Of course, this could be all be done on a simple piece of paper as well.)
  2. Every Thursday night (ok, almost every Thursday night) we sit down, one of us opens the document on our laptop and we get to work.  We start at the top of the list and work our way down banging out these issues that need to be handled.
  3. If, for some reason, we don’t come to a conclusion about one of the topics that we discuss, we make a plan to come to that conclusion: we might seek godly council, pray for another week, or put off the decision (if possible) until a later date.

What kinds of things go on the list?

We always start with prayer.  “Pray” is always the first thing on the list and it never gets deleted.  We usually just pray for unity and wisdom in the decisions we’re about to make.

Some examples of things that we’ve discussed during Symphony Nights are:

  • Whether or not we were going to start a graphic design company
  • Which side of the family to visit for our first Thanksgiving
  • When to start trying to have a baby
  • What to do during the upcoming weekend
  • Whether or not to leave youth ministry at our church
  • Books we’re interested in that we want to read together
  • Ideas for home improvement
  • What vacation to take each year
  • Our budget
  • Vaccine shots
  • Whether or not to join the youth ministry again
  • What apartment to move into
  • Whether or not to buy a house or keep renting
  • What Christmas presents we need to buy

I can’t think of any more examples, but you get the idea.  Most of the topics above are pretty huge decisions in our life, however, most weeks the things we discuss are very minuscule–so unimportant that I can’t even remember any of them right now.

Basically, we just discuss what we need to discuss to stay on the same page and to stay current.

If we ever have some sort of disagreement that for some reason hasn’t been resolved, we handle it on Symphony Night.

Finally, always at the end of the list is, “our calendar for the next week,” so we can both be sure of what’s in store and there’s almost never a surprise and an “oh, I forgot to tell you about . . . ”

We always close the evening with prayer–prayer for each other, our family, our friends, our church, any pressing situations or for wisdom about things that for some reason just couldn’t be concluded that night.  We also, in the same folder as our “Symphony Night List” document, have a document called, “Prayer.”  It’s just a running list of the people and situations that we want to remember to pray for or about.

Is a Symphony Night even Needed?

Maybe you and your husband don’t have this problem–maybe you feel like you communicate so well and so often that if you were to implement a Symphony Night it would be 30 minutes of staring at each other trying to think of something that needs to be taken care of because you’ve already discussed everything that needs to be discussed!  That’s awesome!!! And actually, after Tim quit his job in the spring of 2009 to go to school full-time he was home when I got home every day and we stopped having a Symphony Night.  We stopped because the scene I just described was us–we had so much time together and so few responsibilities that we could discuss these things whenever we wanted.  Now, though, that Tim is working full-time, going to school full-time, and we have a baby, Symphony Night is definitely something that we need!

I hope you consider talking to your husband about adding a Symphony Night to your weekly routine if you think it could help.

It’s helped us stay current with one another and it’s helped us use our other nights better.  For instance, instead of staying up late after Wednesday night church discussing some issue, we can just say, “We’ll talk about that on Symphony Night and enjoy each other tonight.”  Symphony Night has cut back on the time we talk about plans and house-keeping issues and allowed us more fun time together!  I pray it helps your marriage, too!


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3 Responses to “Symphony Night”

  1. We decided Symphony Night was necessary not because our communication was “getting worse”, or because our expectations were unrealistic, but because the ISSUES we had to discuss were increasingly complex. For example, some of the issues we discussed in our dating days (which always proved our excellent communication skills) were: Where do you want to eat for dinner? Which is your favorite Lord of the Rings movie? AND NOW THAT WERE MARRIED, the issues we discuss are more like: Why don’t you talk with your dad about that thing he always does? Which category of our budget will this $200 come out of? Does my butt look big in these jeans? (I always ask Claire that), and What will we spend our last $500 on? Food or tuition?

    So, my proposal is that Symphony Night is necessary because of the increasing complexity of decisions to be made AND because having kids means that you wont sit down and have a serious conversation unless you PLAN AHEAD to do it. Just my thoughts. Great post, thanks for the reminder about the importance of communication in our marriage!

  2. Good point–I hadn’t thought of it that way, and it’s completely true. The situations and decisions we are in and have to make are way more difficult now. Thanks, Jason :)

  3. Jessalyn said

    I completely agree with Jason, but I also agree with Katie and Timmy. As your marriage goes on, you DO become more unrealistic with each other, but you ALSO don’t try as hard to impress the other person with how much you care about them (you tend to just assume they know that). So as YOU are expecting more, the other person isn’t trying as hard as they once did (and vica versa). Add on top of that the complicated issues that Jason mentioned and you get a real need to be intentional about loving your spouce through communication.

    Thanks for the post Katie, this is always something I need to be better about and we tend to let these intentional times slip.

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