Tuesday, December 1, 2009

10 Magical Daily Minutes That Will Improve Your Marriage

If you are like most married people, you work, take care of your children, worry about paying your bills and staying healthy, and spend a lot of your “free time” on laundry, grocery shopping and home maintenance. Working on your marriage and strengthening your bond as a couple may not even make your to-do list.

But what if I told you that devoting just ten minutes a day to your spouse can produce magical results?

As a marriage and family therapist, I know how important this “couple time” is, not just to husband and wife but to children who gain when their parents are in a happy and stable relationship that centers on them and not on their children.

Everyone has ten minutes to spare, whether at the beginning of the day or after they come home from a day of separate activities to reconnect with their spouse for what I call “the daily magic ten minutes.” Doing so will set the remainder of the day or the evening right for everyone in the family.

Couples with toddlers and very young children can do this too. Of course, they will need to make sure their children are safe when they plan their alone time. If your children are slightly older, you might make this new habit into a game. I urge parents to tell their children playfully, “Unless the sky falls in, or a whale eats you up, or there’s blood, please don’t interrupt us. Mommy and Daddy need to take a break. But we’ll be done in ten minutes.” Put a timer where they can see it so your kids will know when the time is up. If you have children who are old enough to watch their siblings, you can pay them to baby sit while the two of you go off to seek a quiet place to chat with each other.

Daily Magic Ten Minutes Rules
You and your spouse are taking the time you deserve and need in order to keep in touch as spouses and as people once again – and not as parents or employees. As a result, certain topics are off-limits.

No talking about what the children did that day or what happened at work.
This is precious time you are taking for yourselves, perhaps in your bedroom with the door closed, perhaps over a cup of tea or a glass of wine.

Talk about whatever you want unless it's problems. If the ten minutes allotted turn out not to be enough, pick up the discussion again the next day right where you left off. Or contract for more time later in the evening.

Some topics you might want to explore together as you get used to this new habit are: books you want to read, trips you’d love to take, hobbies you would like to pursue, purchases you would like to make, thoughts about where you would like to live when you retire, and what you might like to do when you reach retirement age.

Whatever you talk about with your spouse, I hope you have fun with this new time together. Sooner or later, children leave home. And when yours do, you will find that your empty nest will not be a problem. Instead, it will present a continuation of your ability to deepen your relationship with your best friend, the person you married.

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