One thing almost every couple has in common is that they are busy. Beat the busy with your spouse! Schedule 10 minutes to connect each and every day.
“How was your day?”
“Uhhhh, it was . . . . . ok. How was yours?”
“Ummm, busy, but fine.”
OR more realistically:
“How was your day?”
“MOOMMMM! Can I have some milk?”
“Uhhh, it was . . . . ok. How was yours?”
“DAD! FEEL MY WIGGLY TOOTH!”
“Ummmm, fine. Busy, but fine.”
“Knock, knock. . . . . . . . . HEY! KNOCK KNOCK!!!”
Last month while researching for the article The Power of a Good Greeting, I realized Rich and I were doing this “How was your day?” thing all wrong. We were asking each other about our days right when we first saw each other when I was trying to get dinner on the table, Rich was hungry and tired and the kids were conspiring together, somehow determined to not let us have a meaningful conversation.
I wish I could say that we took the time to connect later on when our kids were in bed, but sadly we were usually just so drained that our bodies seemed to carry themselves unconsciously to a screen (TV, laptop, IPAD, pick your poison) and that was that. I’ve said it before, but if you leave free time unchecked, it will sprout legs and walk itself to the nearest screen faster than you can say, “what to do you want to do tonight?”
I’m no calculator, but this daily routine of ours leaves us very little time to actually connect and ya know, talk. Thinking through this problem, we came up with a solution. We call it the 10 minute connect (ok, well I call it the 10 minute connect, Rich calls it, “let’s talk.” He’s anti-establishment like that.)
Every night this month (ok, well almost every night) we take 10 minutes to connect and talk right when the kids go down first thing and it’s been going REALLY WELL. I’ve honestly been surprised at how much closer I feel to him and how understood I feel.
I kind of knew it was going to be really good for me since my love language is quality time, but I’ve been surprised to find that Rich really, really likes it as well. In fact, he’s almost always the one who initiates it (once I gave up calling it the ’10 minute connect’ that is. We hate homework ).
Enough chit chat Celeste, how do we accomplish this magical mystery daily connect??
I thought you’d never ask!
10 Minute Daily Connect How to:
First off, set a time each day when you are both distraction-free. Rich and I sometimes do it while we’re cleaning up the kitchen together, and while this saves time, it just doesn’t have quite the same effect as when we are sitting together with our sole attention on each other.
Second off, once you’ve set your time, commit to it! There was a really interesting study that tried to measure how to motivate people to exercise. They divided their subjects into three groups: Group A was the control group, Group B was given information on the many benefits of exercise and Group C had to set a specific time and place each day to exercise.
- 38% of Group A exercised once per week during the study.
- 35% of Group B exercised once per week
- and an astonishing 91% of Group C exercised once per week
What does this mean for us?? It means that me explaining these benefits of the 10 minute connect means basically nothing to you, apparently 🙁 What a shame. But more importantly, SCHEDULE IT!
Step 1: The Good Stuff of the Day
We start out by asking some iteration of the question, “What was the best part of your day?” or “What was a success you had today?” or “What energized you today?” We change it up, but first we ask each other what was something good that happened that day. We celebrate each others happy moments and successes.
I’ve been surprised to find how often I find myself telling Rich little things that I wouldn’t otherwise discuss with him like blog ideas, little successes the kids had, and how much I love buying Skinnypop popcorn instead of making it myself. Important things like that. It makes me feel so much closer to him and more involved in each others lives.
Step 2: The Hard Stuff of the Day
Then we take some time to vent to each other by asking, “What was something hard that happened today?” or “What did you struggle with today?” or “What drained you today.”
One SUPER important tip here: This is NOT the time to give each other advice!! Unless your spouse asks you explicitly for advice, DO NOT OFFER ANY! This is venting time. If you think you have a solution to a problem your spouse is going through, save it for your weekly check in.
There is something so cathartic and beautiful about knowing you will have a safe place to just get the day’s crummy stuff off your chest without fearing how your spouse will react. Its like therapy. Its wonderful.
Without this safe place, venting can often be confused with complaining or whining, being in a bad mood, a time to judge your spouse, or worse blaming your partner for your problems. We’ve gone through each of these. Typically when Rich would come home and vent immediately I’d be thinking, “Oh no, he’s in a bad mood. Guess we won’t be having an intimate night of connecting after all.” When really he just wanted to get something off his chest and move on.
A specific venting time can save A LOT of misinterpretations before they happen.
So, just to review, if during your connecting time your spouse vents about a co-worker do you
- a) Say, “Well, why don’t you ask her if she can move her station elsewhere?”
- b) Say, “Have you tried talking to your boss about it?”
- c) Don’t say anything but think, “Aw man, he’s in a bad mood. He always gets bothered by such little things! And obviously, he should just talk to her about it.”
- d) Look him in the eye. Listen intently, put yourself in his shoes and then say, “Aw man, that really stinks. I’m so sorry you have to deal with that.”
What’d you pick? If it was anything other than D, re-read this section and then try again.
Step 3: Pray Together
Rich and I typically save our prayers together for the worst possible time: when we’re about 10 seconds away from sleep and can’t really focus on anything other than our pillow. Our prayers are MUCH more coherent, sincere and connecting when we say them when we’re both fully conscious.
- Showing your spouse you hear and understand their struggles (no better time to do this since you JUST heard about what they are struggling with).
- Pleading for their cause
- Celebrating their happiness’s
- Expressing gratitude for them
If you are not prayers, take some time to glean these benefits by expressing your wishes and gratitude for them outright.
Step 4: K-I-S-S-I-N-G
I am such a huge fan of the 15 second kissing experiment that Ryan and Selena over at Fierce Marriage tried out. Two of their findings when they tried to kiss each other for 15 full seconds each day include:
“It’s nearly impossible to kiss for an extended period of time and not feel closer.”
“Kissing is a gateway drug.” – Ryan Frederick
After you kiss your spouse for 15 seconds you are about 68% more likely to engage in more intimate activities, which are, needless to say perhaps the VERY best way to connect with your spouse. (Don’t look up that statistic, it’s based off my personal research with a sample size of 1).
Similarly, the good folks over at Family, Good Things to Come talk about the benefits of a six second kissing experiment. Why six seconds? They say its “long enough to feel romantic, yet doesn’t make the kids late for school.”
You can choose how long you kiss, but I would personally recommend it be longer than five seconds. Because, c’mon, if you can’t spare 5 seconds for your spouse, you are TOO busy!
To re-cap, learn from our mistakes: schedule a time to connect BEFORE you watch a show (this makes you feel better about wasting time together anyway or frees you up to do your own thing) but AFTER you’ve been fed and any children are tucked away. Listen intently and no advice giving.
That’s it! Your challenge is to do this for 10 minutes every night this week! Will you try it? Please let us know how it goes in the comments!!
PS I THOUGHT I came up with this idea myself, but apparently, I unconsciously stole it from first lady, Michelle Obama who discusses the day’s ‘roses and thorns‘ around the dinner table each night. Thanks to reader Diana for pointing this out! Also, she adds a ‘rosebud’ and says one thing they are each looking forward to for the next day- an excellent idea! Thanks Diana!