For the repeat readers, I was getting a little overwhelmed by the purple, I hope you like the blue.
I went away for the weekend with three girlfriends and remembered why God created a Sabbath day in the first place. We went with the intent of "scrapbooking" which we did a lot of, but we also watched a bunch of movies, read a lot of trivial magazines and ate several very low maintenance meals. On Saturday, three of us never got out of our pajamas. No alarm clocks, no grocery shopping, no cleaning up after anyone but ourselves, no driving anywhere. It was a sort of bliss.
On the way home one of my friends and I spontaneously stopped at Starbucks on the way out of town. We stayed for three hours. I cannot remember the last time I did anything spontaneously that lasted three hours. Probably because there isn't usually enough margin in my schedule for such behavior. Which makes me think I'm doing it wrong. And maybe not just wrong, but not-even-in-the-ballpark wrong.
We were talking about Weight Watchers a bit, because we had both lost a lot of weight on the program (I unfortunately have gained a good deal back). We both agreed that "journaling" points for the rest of our lives probably wasn't plausible, but it was a good jump start method because it made us so aware of our food intake. It's like a measurement of the distance between our driver's license weight reality and our scale reality. When I started logging all my points, the weight began to pour off and I wasn't even keeping to the assigned point total. In fact, I was quite a few points over it. Most of the time. And I still lost weight.
Stick with me here, because this is not an advertisement for Weight Watchers. I still lost weight, because I had been eating almost double (and if I'm really honest, sometimes more) of the points a person my age and height would be allowed if looking to lose weight. So just getting in the ballpark gave me immediate results.
It hit me as we kept talking that this applied to another area in my life. My marriage. Dan and I have both been receiving e-mails from an on-line newsletter called marriagevine. You can check it out at www.marriagevine.com. They hawk books which I never buy, because I own most of the ones that seem interesting already, but they also give a couple of excerpts from the books which are all geared toward maintaining and improving marriages from a Christian perspective. This is a great reminder of ways I can intentionally build up my husband on a regular basis. It's like an on-line accountability partner.
So a lot of these books really play up the amount of time you should spend with your spouse. And what they really emphasize is how much time you should spend with only your spouse. But wait, there's more. Shoulder-to-shoulder time doesn't count (aka watching TV or movies or sports). They are talking face-to-face time. And they say, the ideal is to follow the acronym for TIME:
TEN to twenty minutes to talk together alone every day. (Time in the car or at dinner with the kids listening doesn't count.)
INVEST in a weekly date night (or breakfast or lunch) together for at least four hours. (It takes a couple hours to emotionally connect.)
MAKE a monthly "day away" policy. At least once a month spend eight to twelve uninterrupted hours together to reconnect. You can spend the time doing things you both enjoy: errands, shopping, exercising, or a relaxing activity or hobby. I'm thinking if we both are supposed to enjoy it we can forget errands, exercising and shopping.
ESCAPE quarterly (or at least biannually) for a 48-hour weekend.
Are you laughing yet? Because I was. Kind of like when I looked up my height and saw a 22 point maximum in the Weight Watchers journal. I wasn't even in the ballpark.
So Dan and I are going away for two consecutive nights (yes, folks that qualifies as a 48 hour weekend) in less than three weeks. It will be the first time we have done it since the kids were born. Our oldest is twelve. In my defense, and as a tribute to my parents and sister, we have had many overnights! But I realize we have spent less than half the recommended time alone together for far too long.
And previous experience tells me there are great results when you get in the ballpark.