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Using “The Pattern for Growth” to Fine-tune the Agile Checklist for Becoming Better Husbands

How can we apply organizational principles and the wisdom of living prophets to become better spouses? 

This article explores this concept, blending the principles from Atul Gawande’s “The Checklist Manifesto,” Agile project management methodology, and the “Pattern for Growth” as provided by our faith in an effort to become better Presiding Husbands.

**Simplicity in Complexity**

Navigating the intricacies of married life can sometimes feel as complicated as flying an airplane or performing a surgical procedure. Responsibilities and tasks that need to be fulfilled, feelings to be understood and communicated, and mutual decisions to be made are all part of the daily routine. There is a great deal of complexity embedded in these day-to-day operations, which can feel overwhelming at times. However, a tool as simple as a checklist, proposed by Atul Gawande in “The Checklist Manifesto,” can help us manage these complexities with simplicity and grace.


A checklist (or protocol) is a concise compilation of important points or steps that ensure a task’s smooth execution without skipping any critical element. In the context of being a better husband, a checklist can function as a simplified guide to ensure we don’t overlook any aspect of our relationship and responsibilities. It can include reminders for everyday tasks, personal goals for self-improvement, or items to foster communication and mutual understanding with our spouses.

For instance, you could have checklists for various aspects of your relationship:

* **Daily communication**: Set a list of reminders to ask about your spouse’s day, share your feelings and thoughts, and ensure that you both are on the same page on key issues. 

* **Shared responsibilities**: A checklist of household chores or parental duties can ensure that work is distributed evenly and nothing is left unattended. This fosters a sense of teamwork and fairness in the relationship.

* **Spiritual growth**: Create a checklist of shared spiritual goals, such as scripture study, family prayer, or regular temple attendance. It’s a way to ensure that you’re growing together in your faith.

* **Quality time**: Make a list of activities to enjoy together, such as date nights, walks, or service projects. This can help ensure that amidst the hustle of life, you’re investing time in building and maintaining your relationship.

Remember, the power of the checklist lies not in the complexity of its items but in its ability to transform overwhelming complexity into manageable simplicity. The checklist becomes a tangible, actionable plan, helping us to be more organized, thoughtful, and deliberate in our roles as husbands.

The checklists shouldn’t be rigid but flexible, ready to be modified according to your changing needs and circumstances. Like Agile methodology and our faith’s Pattern for Growth, the key is consistent adaptation and improvement. In this way, the checklist becomes a living document of your journey to becoming a better husband, rooted in simplicity amidst the complexity of life.

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**The Agile Husband**

Borrowed from the world of software development, the Agile methodology promotes flexibility, collaboration, customer (or in this case, spouse) satisfaction, and an iterative (repetitious reviewing and revising) approach to achieving goals. As husbands striving to improve, we can adopt this mindset and approach to make consistent, beneficial changes in our relationships.

**Breaking Down Goals**

In Agile methodology, complex projects are divided into smaller, manageable parts known as “sprints.” These sprints allow teams to focus on one aspect of the project at a time, testing and refining as they go. Similarly, we can break down our marital improvement goals into smaller, more achievable tasks. 

For instance, if your broad goal is to improve communication with your spouse, identify the tangible actions that make up this goal. This could include setting aside time each day for uninterrupted conversation, actively practicing better listening skills, or regularly sharing your feelings and thoughts with each other. 

**Iterative Learning and Adaptation**

Agile is built on an iterative process of planning, execution, reviewing, and adapting. This approach ensures continuous learning and improvement. Similarly, in our roles as husbands, we should anticipate that our first attempts at improvement might not be perfect. 

For instance, you may find that your aim to have daily deep conversations with your spouse is unrealistic due to your schedules. Rather than abandon this goal entirely, adapt it. You might decide to aim for meaningful conversations three times a week instead. In this way, Agile teaches us to learn from our experiences and adjust our plans as necessary.

**Regular Feedback**

In Agile project management, regular check-ins (known as stand-ups or retrospectives) ensure everyone on the team understands their roles and the progress being made. As husbands, it’s essential to frequently communicate with our wives about our goals and progress. Openly share what you’re working on and invite her to share any contributing insights she might have. Women can often provide valuable vision and perspective that can help you adjust and improve your plan. 

**Empowerment and Responsibility**

Agile emphasizes empowering teams to manage their work. This principle can also apply in our roles as husbands. Take responsibility for your part in the relationship. Recognize that you have the power to make significant positive changes in your marriage. 

**Serving Your ‘Customer’**

In Agile, the aim is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable work. In the context of marriage, your spouse is akin to your ‘customer.’ The goal is to understand the elements of her environment that will help maximize her development, attend to them effectively, and adapt as these elements change over time.

Embracing an Agile mindset in marriage allows for flexibility, promotes open communication, and enables continuous growth and improvement. It allows us to learn from our successes and failures and to make meaningful, incremental changes that benefit our relationships. It reminds us that progress, not perfection, is the ultimate goal.

**The Power of Planning and Action**

In our journey towards becoming better husbands, one key aspect is understanding the importance of planning and acting on those plans. This concept aligns with the principles of Agile project management, Atul Gawande’s “Checklist Manifesto”, and our faith’s Pattern for Growth. Here’s how you can delve into the process.

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The first step in the “Pattern for Growth” is to discover what you need to work on. This is a time for honest introspection, possibly a deep listening session with your spouse, followed by time spent alone with God for clarification and revelation. Ask questions such as:

– What can I improve in my relationship with my wife?

– Are there communication habits I need to develop or change?

– How can I better support my wife in her development and challenges?

– How can I demonstrate my love more effectively?

Listen with an open mind and heart. Seek Divine guidance during this process. You can use prayer, scripture study, and feelings from the Holy Ghost to aid your discovery. It’s also helpful to remember the Agile principle of adaptive planning here: be ready to adjust your focus based on new insights you gain during this discovery phase.


Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, it’s time to plan. This is where concepts from Agile project management and the “Checklist Manifesto” come in. Agile methodology suggests breaking down complex projects into smaller, manageable tasks or “sprints”. Similarly, a checklist can help you create an organized, step-by-step approach towards your goal.

As you create your plan, try to break down your larger goals into specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) tasks. For example, if your goal is to improve communication, smaller tasks could include scheduling regular times for open and honest conversations, committing to actively listen when your spouse speaks, or reading a book on effective communication.


Having a plan is great, but it’s only effective if you act on it. Action is an integral part of the growth pattern and central to Agile and the checklist methodology. Agile teams work in sprints, executing their tasks in a given timeframe and then reviewing their progress (Reflect). You could adopt a similar approach.

Use the checklist you created to help stay focused and consistent. Check off items as you complete them, and remember that every small action brings you closer to your goal. But, keep in mind that the journey to becoming a better husband isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Patience and persistence are your allies here.

In this journey, remember that action should be driven by love, empathy, and a genuine desire to improve. While the checklist and Agile methods provide structure and direction, the heart of your actions should always be love and respect for your spouse. As you act, rely on the Holy Ghost for strength and guidance. Trust in the Lord’s timing and remember that He is there to support you every step of the way.

In conclusion, planning and action, guided by sincere self-reflection and spiritual guidance, are critical for becoming a better husband. As you go through this process, remain patient, stay committed, and celebrate each small victory along the way.

**Acting and Adapting**

As Latter-day Saint men striving to become better husbands, it’s crucial to understand that any plan or goal is only as good as the actions taken to realize it. We must, therefore, act in faith on the plans we have laid out for ourselves. This involves a commitment to follow through on your plans consistently, keeping in mind that the goal is not to achieve perfection, but progress.

In the “acting” phase, take the plans you’ve developed and put them into practice. This may involve daily actions like saying a prayer for your spouse, setting aside dedicated time to talk about their day, or simply doing a household chore that your spouse typically handles. It might be larger actions too, like planning a surprise date or arranging for a special family gathering. The key is to be proactive and intentional, making sure your actions align with your plan.

However, there’s a phrase often used in Agile project management – “inspect and adapt,” which is equally crucial in this journey. As you act on your plans, take time to reflect on how these actions are affecting your relationship with your spouse. Are there observable improvements in your communication? Do you feel closer and more connected? Are there things that you tried that did not seem to work, or even caused friction?

It’s essential to keep an open mind and be willing to learn from both your successes and your failures. Your initial plan might not be perfect, and that’s perfectly fine. The goal is to learn from your experiences and use those insights to continually refine and adapt your plan. Seek to improve line upon line, precept upon precept, 1% at a time.

This is where the “adapting” part comes in. If something isn’t working as expected, don’t hesitate to change your approach. Agile methodology teaches us to respond and adapt to change rather than following a rigid plan. Similarly, your approach to becoming a better husband should be flexible and adaptive. For example, if you find that your attempts to help with certain chores are not being well-received, it might not be because your spouse doesn’t appreciate your help, but rather that those chores are not the ones that your spouse would most value assistance with.

As you act and adapt, remember to maintain open lines of communication with your spouse. Your spouse can provide valuable insights and perspective that can help you modify your actions and plans in ways that will be most beneficial to your relationship. 

Lastly, remember that patience and kindness towards oneself are virtues in this process. Changing habits and behaviors takes time, and there will be days when it seems harder than usual. On those days, remind yourself of your commitment to become a better husband and the eternal perspective of marriage in our faith. Your consistent effort and the desire to improve will be the driving forces of positive change in your relationship.

**The Guidance of the Holy Ghost**

Seeking to become a better husband is a noble endeavor, but it can also be a challenging journey filled with moments of uncertainty. This is where the counsel and guidance of the Holy Ghost become instrumental.

As we learn in Doctrine and Covenants 8:2, the Holy Ghost communicates with us in our mind and heart, providing insights, comfort, and direction. As we pray and ask for guidance, the Holy Ghost can enlighten us on what we need to work on in our role as husbands. This Divine guidance could come in various forms – thoughts, feelings, or impressions. 

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For example, you may feel prompted to be more patient with your spouse or to spend more quality time together. You might get the impression to express your love and appreciation more frequently or be more attentive to your spouse’s needs and concerns. These insights can help you refine your checklist, make your plans more aligned with Heavenly Father’s will, and ultimately become a more loving and understanding husband.

Relying on the Holy Ghost also means seeking confirmation for your plans. As explained in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8, you can study your plan in your mind and then ask Heavenly Father if it’s right. The feelings of peace and assurance from the Holy Ghost can confirm if your path aligns with His will. 

At the same time, the Holy Ghost can provide comfort and reassurance when you face challenges or when progress seems slow. Remember, change often takes time, and growth happens gradually. During these times, the Holy Ghost can provide the necessary encouragement and strength to keep going.

Importantly, as you make an effort to follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost, it’s crucial to cultivate an environment conducive to the Spirit. This includes regular prayer, scripture study, attending church services, and striving to live a life consistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ. The more you invite the Spirit into your life, the more receptive you’ll be to its guidance.

In essence, the guidance of the Holy Ghost is a critical component in your journey to become a better husband. It not only provides direction but also offers comfort and confirmation. As you continually seek and heed this Divine guidance, you’ll find yourself growing closer to your spouse and becoming more like our Savior, Jesus Christ.

**Celebrating Progress**

Progress, no matter how small, is a cause for celebration. It signifies that you are moving forward, learning, and growing. It’s essential to acknowledge these milestones because they provide motivation, affirm your commitment, and create a positive outlook on your journey to becoming a better husband.  Intentionally taking the time to internalize and celebrate your progress is very important for the fortitude of your brain chemistry.  Sometimes other people, including your wife, will not be in a position to celebrate with you.  It is good for your brain to experience the feel of “Well done my good and faithful servant” from He whom we seek to impress.

Specifically, recognize your accomplishments, whether it’s having successfully maintained open communication with your spouse for a week or remembering to help out with household tasks consistently. Don’t overlook these ‘small’ victories; they are signs of improvement, proving that you’re making strides towards your goal.

If she is of a mind to receive it in an edifying way, celebrate your progress with your spouse. Not only does it show your commitment to her and your growth and self-improvement, but it also gives your spouse an opportunity to celebrate with you. For example, if you’ve made an effort to listen more and talk less, and you’ve noticed a positive change, share this with your spouse. It opens up avenues for communication and strengthens your bond.  Sometimes, this is best done in written form as part of you sharing your daily DPAR from the Pattern for Growth.

Primarily, celebrate your progress through personal reflection during your Man in the Mountain time with God. Take time to consider the changes you’ve made, how they’ve improved your relationship, and how you’ve grown as a person and a husband. You might choose to journal these thoughts and reflections, providing a valuable resource to look back on and learn from in the future.

Additionally, thanking Heavenly Father for His guidance and assistance is another form of celebration. This acknowledgement can come through personal prayer, thanking Him for the strength and wisdom to make positive changes. This gratitude can strengthen your relationship with Heavenly Father and remind you of His hand in your life and marriage.

Lastly, remember that the journey to becoming a better husband isn’t just about reaching the destination; it’s about appreciating and learning from the journey itself. Each step forward, each act of progress, is a testament to your commitment and love for your spouse.

In essence, celebrating progress involves recognizing your growth, sharing this growth with your spouse, reflecting on your journey, thanking Heavenly Father, and learning to value the journey as much as the destination. By doing this, you are not just celebrating your progress, but also reinforcing your commitment to continuously strive to be a better husband.

In conclusion, becoming a better husband is a journey that requires patience, effort, and a sincere desire for self-improvement. By incorporating the principles of the “Checklist Manifesto,” Agile project management, and our faith’s pattern for growth, we can become more proactive, mindful, and effective in our roles as husbands, growing closer to our spouses and Heavenly Father.

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