Karen and I made a New Year’s resolution to do something we challenge all of our intensives couples to do … to hold what we call a “daily check – in.” This is a time where we give each other about 20 minutes of undivided attention to see and hear what’s on each other’s hearts and minds.
To make this goal a reality we had to make 5 commitments … here they are … you can modify them to make them work for you.
Commitment #1: Find a time and place: Some spouses are morning people … some aren’t; some have flexible schedules … others run like clockwork. Add the dimension of having active children in the home and finding an optimal time and quiet uninterrupted place for your check-in can be a challenge. But this is an essential step in making this a part of your regular routine.
Commitment #2: Promise to be physically, emotionally and spiritually present: The power of this time together only works if you are “all in” on connecting with each other. If your heart and head isn’t in the right place … ask for a few minutes to clear your “distractions” so you can be fully focused on what your spouse wants to share with you.
Commitment #3: Don’t Discuss Your Marriage: This is a time to talk about what happened at work … or home. It is a safe place to share whatever is on your hearts and minds outside your marriage. It is not the time to bring up controversial marital, parenting or financial topics that will lead to conflicts between you. Instead, it’s a chance to truly support each other in other areas of your life.
The power of this session comes from your ability to actively listen to hear what’s on your spouse’s heart and then respond to each other’s expressing with empathy and without judgement. Since the issues have nothing to do with your marriage, it’s much easier to express support and understanding of your spouse’s worries and stresses. Here’s some examples of phrases that you want to share during this time:
- I’m feeling frustrated at work …
- I’m tired and need to schedule some down time … or
- I’m excited about what’s going on at church …
Commitment #4: All emotions are welcome: This connection time is an opportunity to express irritants or issues, both big and small. If your partner shares sadness, fear, or anger and it feels uncomfortable, it may be time to explore why.
Allow this space to be a place of celebration too. If you have a victory at work mention that. Beyond sharing frustrations, a relationship is about sharing and relishing in the victories of life together. That’s what makes it meaningful.
Commitment #5: Don’t surrender to failure: Let’s be honest … you will not get this done every day. Don’t make getting started harder by blaming one another. One of you simply ask … hey when can we meet for a check in? I really miss our time together.
Pursuing your spouse’s heart is the key to building intimacy in your marriage; and setting up a regular time to connect heart to heart is an easy way to begin that process.