These days it seems everyone is overbooked, over scheduled, and overwhelmed with life. This creates a belief that we need to be “on” all the time to respond to messages or get tasks done. However, always being connected means that our relationships suffer. Take these steps to disconnect and actually increase loving interaction.
Turn off the Cell Phone Now
Seriously! The cell phone, for those who remember, was once a clunky brick of plastic that seemed like a novel idea at the time. Now, however, the technology has become so compact, efficient (mostly) and integrated into our daily lives that not a day or even an hour goes by without us checking our phones. Yet the phone can also be a real barrier to loving interactions. For example:
- Your attention is focused on the screen, not on your partner.
- It’s a habit to “zone out” playing a game or checking social media.
- There is the temptation and even the desire to check every text message or notification that you receive.
The first step towards disconnecting is being able to turn off your cell phone, at least for a little while, so you can focus on your partner. To get started, try it when you have dinner. I guarantee they will appreciate it!
Schedule Time Together
As mentioned above, we live in an overly-scheduled world and there are lots of demands on our time. So, as the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” This means, if you find it impossible to have unstructured time, then enter a designated time in your calendar to spend with your partner. Don’t consider this time optional. Treat it as important as any other meeting. Sit down with your partner before the start of the week to plan this time. It could be:
- Taking a stroll together each morning. Bonus points for walking the dog at the same time!
- Arranging a lunch date during the week.
- If you both like to work out, why not schedule a time to exercise together?
Try to schedule these activities around the same time each day or week. That way you get into the habit and will feel more comfortable building your schedule each week around these “meetings.” Keep at least an hour free for these moments. Don’t forget to turn off your cell phone!
Be Physically Active Together
Working out is just one way you both can disconnect and also be physically active at the same time. Being physically active requires that you be more present as you focus on the task at hand. This means you are less likely to check your cell phone. Some ideas to consider include:
- Going for a hike.
- Enjoying a bike ride.
- Playing a sport you both enjoy.
Whatever it is, make sure the activity is one that you both enjoy doing together.
Okay, this sounds very “old school” yet there is something to be said about sharing the same space while reading together. You can share ideas, read passages aloud, and enjoy being together in silence. You can use an e-reader device for this activity, but remember to turn off your cell phone!
Check-In Each Night
Get into the habit of doing a nightly check-in, such as after the kids have gone to bed. Use this hour to talk about your day, how you are feeling, and anything else that you believe requires a conversation. There is nothing better for communication than just sitting down and talking.
We all want to have loving interactions with our partners, but the fast pace and distractions of modern life pull us away. Keep in mind that it is possible for all of us to stay connected by taking these simple steps.
Denise Kautzer is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and a Certified Public Accountant whose practice is located in St. Paul, MN. You can view her website at www.denisekautzer.com or contact her at email@example.com.