Shared digital calendar

A shared calendar: the essential marriage tool

Your marriage‘s best friend is a shared, cloud-based calendar system.

The longer I am married the more credit I give our shared, cloud-based calendar system for keeping us on track. We didn’t always have one.

Early in marriage, our lack of a shared calendar led to recurring frustrations and many missed opportunities.

One night my wife lovingly made me lasagna — my favorite meal — and called to ask when I was getting home. I told her, “Didn’t I tell you last Thursday that next Wednesday I would be working late?”

“No you didn’t!” She was quite upset — but she wouldn’t have been if we had had a shared calendar.

Worse were the opportunities to connect we missed out on because we were unaware of each other’s schedule.

One night I was going to surprise my wife by coming home early from work — only to discover she was out with friends. The following evening, she was home alone calling asking me when I would get home. I could hear the disappointment in her voice when I told her I had to work late.

I remember thinking, if only we had coordinated our schedules, I could have worked late when my wife was out with her friends, and we could have enjoyed the next evening together.

That missed night together was the last straw for us. We sat down shortly after and created our “shared, cloud-based calendar system.”

How not to share calendars

What is a shared, cloud-based calendar system? It might be helpful to start out with what it’s not.

It is not each of us maintaining individual calendars and sending the other invites.

I asked a couple who came to me for help what was wrong. “What’s wrong?” the wife exclaimed, “he forgot to bring our baby home!”

I asked them if they had set up the shared calendar I recommended when I first met them years before. “No,” they were relying on calendar invites.

I told them — within the context of marriage — I am opposed to calendar invites.

The wife exclaimed — she was quite passionate — “I hate calendar invites.”

The husband defended himself: “She sent me one hundred calendar invites, and I forgot to accept one…” and forgot to bring the baby home!

Calendar invites work well for people you meet with from time to time, but married couples have too much going on. Calendar invites — in marriage — are wildly inefficient.

I am also — to be frank — opposed to written calendars. As I told my wife early in our marriage, “the calendar in your pocketbook doesn’t do me a lot of good when I am at work.” Nor would a calendar on our kitchen wall.

McFadden Shared Family Calendars
Every day can bring chaos and frustration when you have a family. Our shared calendar system keeps us organized and helps us identify opportunities to connect and have fun.

A chief virtue of a shared, cloud-based calendar system is that it is… cloud-based. My wife & I (and our children) can access our shared calendars wherever we are. Any changes any of us make to a calendar are immediately synced across all our devices.

A shared, cloud-based calendar system allows couples to efficiently organize their lives. A shared calendar also serves as an objective record of your life together — you can see if you are making time for each other.

A shared calendar system can also help you do a better job of seeing opportunities coming and taking advantage of them.

I am writing this blog post, for example, the day before my daughters have a random school holiday. Because I saw this holiday coming — thanks to having their school calendar in our system — I arranged to take the day off from work and have planned an exciting day for us.

If I hadn’t seen their school holiday coming, tomorrow would have been a frustrating day for all of us.

So, how can couples set up a shared, cloud-based calendar system?

By now, there are probably more than one hundred apps that can do the trick. I’ve tried several out, but continue to use Apple’s built-in “no-frills” Calendar app.

One calendar out of many

An important clarification is that this Calendar app is not itself a calendar. It is an app that can display many different calendars at the same time. These individual calendars can be generated by any number of different programs.

I have a “Peter – personal” calendar created in Apple’s iCloud. I sent my wife one invitation seventeen years ago asking her to subscribe to this calendar. Ever since, anytime I add anything to my personal calendar, the event immediately shows up on all my wife’s devices. It’s that simple.

My work calendar is generated in a program called Daylite (similar to Salesforce). I sent my wife the ID and password allowing her to subscribe to this calendar — I do have an irregular work schedule, so it’s important for my wife to know it. Ever since, anytime I add an appointment to my work calendar, the appointment shows up on all my wife’s devices. Super efficient.

Below, under “Further Resources,” you can find information on how to share with each other several of the most popular cloud-based calendars.

We find it advantageous to have different calendars for the separate areas of our lives, rather than having all our events on one calendar.

Our shared calendar system is compromised, currently, of fifteen different calendars:

Peter – personal
Peter – work
Anna – personal (with important work events added)
Albina – our eldest daughter
Maria – our younger daughter
Haldane – our daughters’ school
Family – family time
A&P Date – couple time
Hudson – our “pandemic puppy”
Notre Dame – my favorite football team
Health – our various doctor appointments
Meal Planning
U.S. Holidays
Birthdays
Local Weather

Having all these different calendars allows us to give each calendar its own color (our Family and A&P Date calendars are red, for example, signifying no cell phone use allowed during these scheduled events).

We can also temporarily deactivate calendars. From time to time, for example, I will deactivate all the calendars except our Health calendar. Then, I can more readily see when we last went to certain doctors and can see which follow-up appointments we need to schedule.

Sharing calendars promotes teamwork

Our shared calendar system helps my wife and I feel like we are a great team.

In the seventeen years we’ve had our shared calendar system, I haven’t once had to ask my wife if we have anything coming up. I can just take out my phone and look at our calendars.

Much to my wife’s joy — I haven’t forgotten any appointments, either. My poor wife used to lose sleep worrying I would miss an important engagement, and she would remind me — again and again — of events we had coming up.

Before we started our shared calendar, I worried having one might be too restrictive — I value spontaneity — but in practice I have found our calendar liberating.

I no longer have to call my wife anytime I have a question about our schedule. I can make a decision to meet with a friend without having to ask my wife first — I just need to check our calendars first to see if there is a conflict.

In my experience working with couples struggling in marriage, I am convinced 50% of marriage misery would be eliminated if couples just had a shared calendar system. They would do a better job of making time for each other and for fun — and they would avoid all the small frustrations that can build up from frequent bickering over missed and late appointments.

A shared, cloud-based, calendar system is truly the essential marriage tool. Don’t muddle through your marriage without one!

Action Item
Set up — or ramp up, if you already have one — a shared calendar system.

Further Resources
Link – How to share a Google calendar
Link – How to share an Apple calendar – Mac
Link – How to share an Apple calendar – iPhone
Link – How to share your Samsung calendar

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