Retooling For Relationship
I don’t know about anyone else, but for me this last year was filled with surviving. I spent most of my time learning a new way to live with new normal after new normal—but I am so grateful that we did survive. If you are reading this, I imagine you and your relationships overcame so many obstacles that accompanied pandemic life, and for that you should be proud.
Before the shutdown, my husband and I had busy careers that included 300,000 miles in the air between the two of us. Much of that travel was together, but some of it was apart. This year travel almost completely stopped, so what had been working wasn’t anymore. We had to learn how to be together NON-STOP. We are both people who LOVE time together, but we also enjoy alone time. Alone for him became time in his car, as he deemed it his new “office,” and my alone time became a barstool at our counter.
Recently life has picked back up from what felt like a 0 to 1,000. So now, after a year of learning how to be together, we’re now working just as hard to relearn how to keep ourselves connected while we’re apart. We are fighting to release the “survival mentality” and trade it in for meaningful connections as time passes by and once again the busyness of life takes hold.
The “survival mentality” meant we were living in a state of fight or flight, and while that is ok for a time, we can’t stay there forever. Why? Well, our bodies, hearts, and minds get exhausted running on constant adrenalin. It's time to take some steps back and recreate the healthy habits that keep our relationships vibrant and fun! Here are four tools I rely on as I have been stepping back into the healthy rhythms of living.
Carve out space daily to just check in.
Commit to 15 minutes at the end of your work day, put away your phones, and ask each other this one question: Tell me something that happened today? Giving one another your full attention while you each share a part of your day will drive your connection—and maybe even promote more meaningful conversation.
Pro Tip: I’ve learned my husband needs 30 minutes to settle into the house before we have any type of conversation. Know your partner and meet them there.
Make yourself meet friends once a week.
Want to make your marriage/relationship better? Dig into your community outside of them. Guess what? There is NOT one person that is going to “complete” you. I’m so sorry if you are just learning that on this page, but it's true. It takes a village to raise a kid, and it takes a village to be a whole person. Be intentional digging back into relationships with people that make you laugh, hold you accountable, and encourage you to live a big life. We are the sum of the people we consume most, so be careful—but get out there.
Pro Tip: Maybe you didn’t feel as supported as you hoped from your friend group during pandemic life. LET IT GO ELSA. We were all living through pandemic life for the first time. Didn’t hear from your crew enough? GET OVER IT. Reach out to them. Invite them to lunch, or coffee, or drinks. Remember, we all survived differently. Let's just be thankful we survived. CALL THEM TODAY.
Schedule a date night with no phones.
At least once a month, get one phoneless date on the calendar. My husband, Shane, and I have one EVERY WEEK. It is amazing. Usually we laugh and act silly, but sometimes we are actually in a fight—and we STILL GO. It's our commitment. And you know what? We connect. We normally end the night still laughing and being silly, but sometimes it just gives us space to talk things out.
Pro Tip: If you are like we were when we started making dates a priority, maybe talking is awkward—so don’t be afraid to buy some conversation cards or date challenges. Check out fivedates.co or theadventurechallenge.com
Schedule a weekly meeting.
Wait, what? Yep. Think about how many meetings you have at work to stay on track with projects—meetings to keep culture strong and meetings to make sure everyone on your team stays on the same page—we do all of that. So why would we treat our marriage/partnership any differently? Shane implemented weekly meetings in our relationship in July 2018, and we haven’t missed a week since then. We hammer out our schedules, talk about what we are believing in for our careers, discuss how we are praying over our family, kids, and community—and we have a safe place to ask for what we need. It's wild what happens to our fight or flight when we can start counting on having a consistent, safe place to really talk and really listen.
Pro Tip: I’m releasing a meeting agenda in an article online—search “Weekly Meeting” on goodgritmag.com.