In our household, I imagine much like yours, our days are quite full. The morning starts early and is quickly filled with tasks that demand completion. We’re diverge outside our apartment door and each go the way of our own to-dos. Austin and I rush through our day at work, running to the post office on our lunch breaks, picking up final dinner items on the way home, and getting food on the table (hopefully) by seven.
And then comes the part of the day that we most look forward to: those evening hours of freedom. They are few, but they are ours. For just a little while, we do what we please, rest how we please, and enjoy one another how we please.
But, more often that I would like to admit, I find that rather than reconnecting and resting, we merely coexist next to one another on the couch, each occupied by our own book, site, or iPhone app. While this is sometimes necessary (and even refreshing in its own way) our physical proximity may change when evenings come, but our relational proximity remains unaltered. We can go days spending our working hours apart and evenings spent the same; we may share a couch, but not much more.
Even as much as we want to connect, a tension remains: we want to give our best energy to one another, but our energy has been spilled throughout the day. But we have found a few small ways in which we can be intentional that help our tired little selves reconnect at the end of a long day.
1) Make dinner conversation count. Generally, when we get home dinner is the first thing on the docket. Whether it’s ready when I get home or we make it together, we always sit down together. And during those thirty minutes my energy level is at its best, so I ride the adrenaline of the day and pour it into our mealtime conversation. It can be simple questions like, “How was your day, dear,” or more probing questions like, “Did you read anything interesting during your lunch break,” or “ Tell me about how you’re feeling about your upcoming work trip.” Take the conversation past the facts of the day (“what did you do”) and into the personal interpretation of those facts (“how did you feel about _____”). I find conversation comes most naturally when my energy is still high, and dinner is a great segment of time for us to catch up.
2) Do the same thing kind of nothing. For Austin and I, our tendency is to plop down on our couch with our own preoccupations, and after about an hour we realize that it’s almost time for bed and nothing has passed between us since dinner. I cannot tell you how much I love it when Austin shuts his computer and, without a word, scoots over to me and looks at my screen asking, “What are we reading?” It doesn’t have to be finding a new hobby together, but reading off the same computer, reading the same newspaper, or watching the same show gives us something to talk about and helps our paths cross, rather than running parallel to each other all evening. If we’re going to do nothing in the evening, we try to do the same kind of nothing.
3) Form a bedtime habit. The thing that makes me feel most connected to Austin at the end of the day is when we end the day on the same page. We have made a habit of climbing in bed, turning out the lights, and praying together right before sinking into sleep. Austin will search under the sheets for my hand, hold it tight, and one of us will pray for our night of sleep and the day that will follow. Sometimes our prayer is only thirty seconds, maybe a minute; but ending our day by being spiritually unified welcomes the next day with the same.
What about you? What helps you and your man connect even on tiresome days?