10 Nov SEPTEMBER – Set aside more quality time
Set aside more quality time.
It’s remarkably easy to let your work, the gym, kids (if you have them) time with friends and family interfere with your marriage. Life revs up and suddenly you and your spouse realise that you haven’t had a one-on-one conversation about anything important or personal in what feels like forever. Oh, sure, you’ve spoken with each other: “What time will you be home for dinner?” “How much money is left in our spending account this week?” But that kind of conversation is so monotonous and not so invigorating or romantic!
Since beginning my project, my marriage had been coping a major workout. I had set resolutions to improve how we show and give affection, how we compliment each other and offer each other proofs of love. All tactics had reaped excellent rewards and we were much happier for it. This month was all about improving upon the time we spent with one another. Due to the nature of my job, I often rolled on in after work, ate dinner and didn’t engage. I wanted to take advantage of our time together.
In order to be more present in my time with my husband, I needed to make our time together more purposeful. In order to do so, I vowed that I would make the effort to put our devices down. It is hardly romantic to sit on the couch next to each other scrolling facebook and instagram. Yet this seemed to be our go to of an evening. In addition to this, we always sat down and had dinner together of an evening. I also wanted to make better use of this time and work on our conversation tactics at the dinner table. The old “how was your day Honey?” was getting a bit tried and tested and never seemed to elicit any meaningful conversation. We also spent time together of a weekend, going for walks or having a coffee together and I wanted to better use this time to have more meaningful discussions. To prompt high quality discussion, I drew up a list of questions Matt and I could ask each other at the dinner table. This plan for action aligned with my commandment to ‘ask questions’ and ‘listen.’
Some examples of questions we could ask each other included:
“What were 3 good things in your day today?
“What are 3 things you are grateful for?”
“What are you aiming to improve today?”
“What are you hoping to achieve today?”
Engaging in activities of mutual interest with your spouse is one of the many keys to a happy marriage. My husband is obsessed with finance and property. Just like I spend hours of my week researching and listening to podcasts on happiness and wellbeing, Matt liked learning about savvy ways to invest his money. Our interests are at opposite sides of the spectrum and sometimes, this caused conflict for us! This month, my husband told me about a new book he was reading ‘The Barefoot Investor” (I highly recommend you read it) and how it was a simple way to think about money better as well as communicate with your partner through the use of financial date nights! Yes, you heard me – a sexy date night, where you sit down, specify your savings and strategise how to pay bills and manage debt…HOT! The most hilarious thing about that last sentence is that my husband actually does find that very sexy. I saw an ideal opportunity to connect with him through this book and the date nights so I agreed to read it at the same time as he did.
When you invest in love, you invest in life. My husband and I have always gotten along. We spend lots of time together, travel and engage in exciting experiences. This month wasn’t about creating those times because they were lacking. I was about focusing in on the “normal” time that we spent together and making the most of that. It really emphasised my commandment to ‘be in the moment.’ I wanted to appreciate and savour every minute and every second. I wanted to move away from the idea that quality time is about planned experiences like trips away, walks along the beach or fancy dinners. Throughout the month, I was mindfully aware of how we engaged in conversations, I took the opportunity to point out how much I loved him or appreciated him over breakfast. Matt was over the moon when I talked to him about finance, agreed to save money and discussed plans for our investment future. He would beam at me as we wrote up our budget and tell me how much he appreciated that I was involving myself in the process. I was proud of myself for making the effort to engage with him on a topic of his choice for once. As we read our book together, one chapter at a time, we had more and more things to talk about. It allowed him to share his excitement and interests with me. What also came from this was increased happiness for him. He shared that his anxieties about money were tamed when he felt like he could talk to me about our future. We go out to dinners, have planned a weekly morning coffee date and we go on walks together and yabber away for the entirety. And in all honesty, there are still those times where we sit down and look at our phones and don’t engage. I am not going to pretend like we are perfect! But all in all, we have improved and can both attest to it.
My idea of happiness is feeling great in my day to day life. I want to be sitting at the dinner table, strolling the markets or walking the dog and and be happy in that moment and in my marriage. I want to feel a sense of appreciation and mindfulness of the simpler things in life. What came from this was an attitude and mindset that allowed me to be grateful for the small things. I’m happier. Not because everything is perfect. But, because I choose to focus on the perfect moments.