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As I sat with my friend, having dinner, I was struck by how many couples were sitting opposite each other, engrossed in their cell phones, with only an occasional comment to their partner. Or they were simply sitting quietly, looking out the window or watching the activity in the restaurant, each deep in their own thoughts, with emptiness reflected on their faces.
Where was the active engagement in conversation? Where was the listening, gesturing, offering points of view, and laughing? Moments in time that offered opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle and connect with each other instead were spent absorbed in trivial things.
Relationships take time to develop. They require ongoing conversation, face-to-face interaction, discussion about problems, listening, and then responding.
Relationships require feedback for better understanding, validation, and confirmation of feelings.
Relationships require being in the present moment with each other and a willingness to work together.
Good conversation is intentional. Good conversation is necessary to maintain a strong relationship.
Too often, couples get mired down with work or other obligations. When they finally take time for a dinner out, their conversation gets caught up in all the problems they are facing to the exclusion of their goals and plans for the future. One person often dominates the conversation, and the night ends with frustration and depression over the problems they are facing.
“This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
— Psalm 118:24
We have 24 hours in every day. How much of that time is spent in purposeful discussion?
When you spend time with another, being in the moment is imperative. Otherwise, the conversation has no meaning. It doesn’t mean you can’t talk about problems, but problems should not be the only thing.
We only have that moment. Any moment in time holds the promise of discovery, reflection, or opportunity.
In The Art of Living Consciously, Dr. Nathaniel Branden, speaks to the need to take responsibility for where we are at any point in time. “Living consciously is a state of being mentally active rather than passive.”
We live in a fast-paced world, with everyone going in different directions, oftentimes fragmented and disconnected. We are faced with drastic changes in our worldview that challenge our values and beliefs. There is less and less time to sit and enjoy each other’s company.
It isn’t just how we say or interpret what was said. Words themselves used in different contexts can have different meanings.
Consider the word “work.”
We think of work as something we don’t especially enjoy but are required to do. And yet when we are “working” on a project we like, such as painting or cooking or creating or maintaining a garden, we don’t think of “work” the same way. It is something we enjoy – it is the effort used to accomplish things that give us deep satisfaction and joy.
I believe that many marriages would not end up in divorce if there were regularly scheduled times to “be” in each other’s company, without phones or iPads, to-do lists or complaints.
We schedule time away with the “guys” or “gals,” but do not see the need to schedule purposeful time with our mates to share our love and let them know how much they mean to us, focusing on their good attributes rather than the things that irritate or displease us.
How important is your marriage? How important are your relationships?
When we make a commitment to spend quality time with the people we care about and love, we will be rewarded with incredible blessings.
Life isn’t a “bowl of cherries” where everything is great, and we are given all the love and attention we crave.
Life, instead, is a challenge to ferret out the important and work hard to build on that.