Q: I am the moderator in a new Spousal Forum that launched several months ago. We planned our meetings for the year. A member needs to miss a meeting and proposed changing the meeting for another date that month or to skip that month and instead just meet the next month. How do you recommend I handle this situation as moderator?


A: I always like to preface answers to questions like this with “Every Forum is unique. Do what works best for your Forum.” That said…

Regarding your situation, I agree with your instincts to hold the meeting regardless of whether someone has to take an absence. I’ve actually seen new Forums wither up and die from an inability to schedule meetings frequently enough in the early stages. It can even impact more mature Forums. The connections start to sag, the momentum is derailed and the commitment level sinks for everyone. I love that you tried to find an alternative date. It shows a genuine interest in attendance and a real desire to keep the entire group together for your next meeting. But in the absence of finding an alternative date, I support your decision to proceed with the original meeting schedule.

I know of several Forums that have a protocol in place when a member misses a meeting. The person who misses is to reach out to each Forum member individually at some point after the meeting (and before the next meeting) to share monthly Updates one-on-one. This helps the missing person not feel quite so disconnected from the group and vice versa. For whoever gave a presentation/exploration, additional time should be spent on the call to ask about the exploration topic and offer any additional experience-sharing to the presenter.

While perfect attendance is nice, it may not always be practical, especially in today’s busy world. By connecting one-on-one with each member after the missed meeting, the missing member will feel more connected and help the entire group feel more informed and “whole”.

I hope that helps! 😊