“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” —African proverb
My husband and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. In his card, I printed out a message from an email he had sent to me ten years ago, detailing his own personal vision for the marriage and family he wanted to have. Today, while we are not a mirror image of his vision, we are pretty close, and it was a wonderful thing to recognize and celebrate.
Over our 10 year relationship, we have had many ups and downs, like most couples, but when it finally came down to hitting our stride and learning what we need to keep our relationship healthy, we found it is all about connection.
When we take the time to connect with each other, we take the time
to problem solve,
and to enjoy each other’s company.
When we make time to connect on a daily basis, we both feel more loved, supported and understood. We feel like a team, facing life together.
But it takes a conscious effort, and it isn’t always easy.
Sometimes, I’ll pause during the day and realize that I miss him. The feeling comes with a sensation of not having seen him in a while, when in reality, I saw him only that morning and all evening the evening before, but we were both busy with personal projects and didn’t take the time to consciously connect. And, if days go by like this, I feel a distinct sense of unease – less loving, more guarded – until we’re back on track.
But it takes work. It takes time. It takes prioritizing our relationship, over other things we may need to do. Something that isn’t always easy for busy couples, long-distance couples, parents of newborn or small children or couples who don’t understand the importance of regular, daily, conscious connection.
In her article, Five Hours to a Better Relationship (part of a four part series on improving relationships), Christine Carter of the Greater Good Science Center talks about the importance of regular connection with your partner. In the article, she introduces John and Julie Gottman’s “magic five hours a week, ” in which they recommend connecting for:
- two minutes every weekday morning to share your plan for the day,
- twenty minutes each day when you arrive home,
- five minutes throughout the day to express gratitude for one another,
- (at least) five minutes of daily physical affection;
- and two hours a week to get to know each other better.
Putting this advice into practice as often as we can, my husband and I make sure to greet each other, mindfully, each morning as we pass in the kitchen. We take time to say hello and goodbye with eye-contact and a kiss. We connect during the day via email or text when we can.
And each evening, we have tea.
Having tea together, each evening, has become the cornerstone of our relationship, a wonderful way for us to consciously connect each day; something we both enjoy and prioritize.
Our evening “tea,” (which doesn’t always involve tea, although it typically does for other health benefits), involves a set time when we turn off the television and our computers and sit down for a cup of tea. We use this time to check-in with each other, talk about our days and look ahead to the week ahead.
The most important thing about tea is that all electronic devices are turned off and we focus on creating a conscious connection. And of course, taking time to connect doesn’t have to involve tea or be in the evenings. It should be a time, place and environment that work best for your relationship; one you are able to commit to on a daily basis (as much as possible).
Ideas for Creating Conscious Connection
Checking-in with each other, telling stories about your day and sharing anything you have on your mind, is important for daily connection, but if you still have time afterwards, or find you need ideas to spark conversation to create a stronger connection, the following links offer some ideas.
- A recent New York Times Article lists the 36 Questions that lead to love discussed in Mandy Len Catron’s Modern Love Essay, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This. While you have already be (or were once) in love with your partner, the questions might still spark some interesting conversation.
- Take a quiz to discover your personal love language profiles.
- For more direct questions to check-in with your partner, Power of Two provides 8 Essential Relationship Questions to Ask.
Resources for Building Conscious Connection
If you aren’t feeling connected to your partner and feel that you need some intervention before beginning to build in daily time for connection, Love and Life Toolbox, offers some practical advice in 8 Ways to Spring Clean Your Marriage (or long-term relationship).
Additionally, on February 12 and 13, Relationship Coach Monika Hoyt is hosting a free virtual Authentic Relationship Telesummit with interviews with experts in the field of relationship psychology covering topics on the science behind lasting love, tips for an authentic relationship, healthy communication tools, tips for enhanced connecting and intimacy and more. You have to call in to listen, but Monika shares an event schedule, so you can plan to call in to the topics you are most interested in.
What about you? Do you have any habits, rituals or advice for maintain a conscious connection in your relationship? If so, I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for Reading!
Sharon, Author, The Conscious Parenting Notebook