Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thirty Minutes? A Week?

Yesterday I heard the most jaw-dropping fact: on average, a couple will spend 30 minutes per week catching up with each other.  Thirty minutes per week of really talking -  about their jobs, their days, their dreams.

This little tidbit came on top of me looking at the clock each night this week at 11pm or so and asking myself When exactly does this happen?

After the dentists appointments and the school pickups and supper and bike riding time and emptying the dishwasher and sorting the laundry and searching for the permission slips and exercise classes and [oh hey!] work - paid and unpaid, of course - and lunch making and bill paying and crawling under the beds to retrieve Lego pieces and Polly Pocket shoes and stupid grocery shopping nope scratch that we won't get to the store..........

When exactly does this happen?

When exactly do I stay friends with my best friend?

When exactly do we get to talk about the screen play he might write when he wins the lottery and is needing to wind down from running a successful vineyard during the day?   When do we get to get things off our chest, to relate funny stories from the day, to gossip about the latest on Facebook, or to hatch hare-brained schemes to get bike lanes built through town?

When do we get to act like people who love each other, instead of business partners?

For all intents and purposes, we 'have it easy' - I am a stay-at-home-mom, he's got a really understanding employer who supports working from home on occasion, or an early night traded for a late night later in the week.  We 'get' to have him home for supper a few times a week, and then I completely understand when that means he hauls out the laptop for work after the kids are in bed.

"Having it easy," however, isn't the same as blissfully co-existing in total harmony.  We still want to carve out time for our own pursuits, our own private thoughts, a little eyebrow tweezing, a quick read-through of the latest in the European Champions League.  (InterMilan won today!) Add 'me-time' to all of the above, and you've got the recipe for how you end up at thirty minutes per week.

So if we're finding it hard to connect - if we're finding it hard to find the time to sit down and really talk - how hard must it be for so many more families!  Families trying to manage shift work, families trying to encompass two careers, families struggling with health issues or behavioral issues, families who are pulled in a million directions every single day?

Instead of throwing in the towel here, instead of saying with a heavy sigh "it's so HARD to be a modern family" - can I suggest something crazy?   I want to share with you a quote that came home from school last year, a sort of "Message from the Principal" thing.   We got things like this every week, and I don't know if the principal would even remember this if pressed.  But this quote has stayed with me every single day since then:
We live in a culture of busy-ness.  I do not think we will change this, but we can make choices for our children and ourselves.  Do we model for children a peaceful rhythm of activities in our own lives? [...] Do we carve out time for kids to be, to think, to create and to dream?
In our marriages, in our families:  there is so much at stake when we fail to connect.  Try, this week, to be more than average: aim for more than your thirty minutes with your significant other.   Try, this week, to connect and listen to the whole vineyard pipe dream, or the earth-shattering blog post, or, just listen to each others' quiet.

I'm guessing you won't be sorry you did.


Cheryl said...

Great. Post this right after hubs leaves on a business trip - after being away all day today somewhere else!

I do notice that after the kids are in bed we retreat to our respective computers. Once in awhile I convince him to watch TV with me. Urgh.

oboyorganic said...

Great post!

In the past year I have known of 5 friends getting a divorce. My husband continues to say that the economy is taking a toll on marriages but it has to stem from somewhere else.

We tend to spend less time together during the week at night, but on the weekends we love to work outside in the yard, hike and camp with the boys and just sit with a glass of wine in the evening or coffee in the morning.

I feel so guilty that I am working all the time...scarifies we have to make when starting your own business.

I also think having a weekend or even night away makes a HUGE difference.

kirsten said...

I completely agree! It almost 'resets' the thermostat so that you miss the connection when you're not getting to talk.

I think what I'm trying to articulate is a mindfulness - not so much about the 30 mins, but about really *knowing* when you connect.

Cheryl - we are SO prone to the 'each to your own computer' syndrome. Its so depressing!

Evolving Mommy Catherine said...

30 minutes. Wow. I think some nights we are better than others. I find the hardest thing to balance is "me-time" and "couple-time."

Diane said...

i'm divorced. it's the ONE thing i knew would NEVER happen to me when i got married. our families just didn't divorce. we belonged to a church that didn't believe in divorce. it just WASN'T going to happen. i think we had more than 30 minutes a day with one another particularly when we were living outside the US. but things happen--no need to list them off here i am only too painfully aware of the mistakes i made. but, my point being here, you need to find ways to spend time "together" even when you're apart. don't laugh but the little notes in unexpected places that demonstrate and effort to share a thought (and maybe even a "sweet" to go along with it :-), or a quick email note that says you're thinking of him/her and want to send some love along--well, it's not the real and best thing but it's better than nothing or letting the stuff of life take it's toll on your relationship.

ChocolateAddict said...

I love that, it is so important to stay connected through the mayhem!

Heather of the EO said...

Wow. 30 freaking minutes, huh? yeah, sounds about right. And I love your perspective on it. how so many families have it harder and so it's good to also strive harder in the space we do have for connectedness. I heart you. The End.

Kara said...

30 minutes? Oh, that is just jaw-droppingly sad ... and, yet, I can see how it can happen. I see the moments fly by and the days go and things get busy ...

Thank you for the good reminder not to take each other granted and to make time.

Here's to being above average!

Linda said...

I try to ignore polls and surveys. They don't exist in my strange world!

Alissa said...

WOW. That's insane. It seems like now that we have a child it's really hard to talk anymore. I hope this changes very soon!

"Queen" Vic said...

This makes me laugh a little, b/c my fiancee INSISTS on catching up as soon as we get home. I think we might average 15 min/day on a bad day.
I guess it really is important to make time, because as much as I harp on him about it, it really does matter to share what happens in your life.
Thanks for writing this!
(Stopping by from SITs)

Come check out my wedding planning blog (or lack of planning)

Amber Page Writes said...

It really is hard, but worth doing. We're a two-job family with a thirteen month old, and I feel like we as a couple always come last. Boo.

hezro said...

Okay, I now think my husband and I must be freaks of nature because we apparently talk to each other a lot. I think a big contributing factor is because we have a RULE about going to bed at the same time (I will spare you the complicated details.) We've been doing this for like twelve and a half years now. The up shot is that we almost always chit chat for at least half an hour before falling asleep, in addition to any chit chatting we already did over the course of the day. I guess "the rule" is a pretty good thing. Not only does it give me a shot at falling asleep before his loud breathing keeps me up, it might also keep us from getting divorced. Woo hoo! (Or it might cause us to GET divorced because it drives my husband crazy when I pipe up to 'say one more thing' after like five minutes of silence. He only needs about two minutes to fall asleep.)

Missy said...

Just got a chance to read this and I accept the challenge! We have a similar situation - stay-at-home mom, very flexible employer for my husband, and as a family, we see a lot of each other. But as a couple, we are conversation challenged. I didn't really think about it that way until I read your post (what does that say about me?), but I really doubt we spent even 10 minutes on REAL stuff every week. We spend hours on logistical details and the stuff of day-to-day life, but not LIFE.

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