Over the years, Timothy and I have found that our relationship has cruised along quite swimmingly. This year, April 2020 marked our 15th year of being married and we’re happy to say we’ve survived many a high and low. But at the beginning of this year, we came to a point of realising that we need to stop taking it for granted and truly investing in our relationship and connection.
So, this is how we did it and are continuing to try and do so. (That’s one thing you need to know about us, we’re not perfect and things can shift and change at a moments notice – but this is our battle plan)
Many years ago, while asking a friend for any marriage advice on how to make it work for the long run – this friend shared this principle of 1•1•1•1. It may have been in teaching, but none the less, we put it in our back pocket for when we felt it was time. Well, as of January 2020 – we felt it was time. Due to the added responsibilities being added to our already busy lives, we are so aware that it is in these moments that a couple can so easily be swallowed by “auto pilot” behaviours and start to just pass each other by.
We sat down and got our butts into gear and decided to apply this principle intentionally.
The principle is – in a nutshell
1 connection a day
1 date a week
1 night away in the month
1 week away in the year
Looking at this – you may respond differently to it, depending on where you’re at in your marriage. In the early years – this looks easy, right? there’s no distractions, it’s just the two of you and making this happen can be easily written into the calendar. But, if you’ve been married for a while with a schedule that doesn’t even seem to stop – you may also look at this and say, “where am I going to find the time?” Which is honestly how we looked at it for a long time because of little kids and not making the effort – like, for real.
But, from either point of view – we decided to actually stop the excuses and make it practical for ourselves and apply it to our family life in a way that made sense for us.
1 Connection a Day
We have made sure that we spend at least 20 minutes just connecting about our day and really listening and hearing what our days have been like. This was and has always been easy for us – I think that’s why we didn’t really feel we needed the other “1’s” for the 15 years. We were always touching base and connecting in short bursts daily. So for yourself, look at a 20 minute slot in the day and grab a coffee or pillow away from the kids and the noise and just talk about your highs and lows of the day. Do share with us how that works for you – or even if it doesn’t – we can always learn from each other and new nifty tricks might pop up from it.
1 Date a week
Ok, it was this one that I have always, ALWAYS felt was like “marriage over achieving” – don’t judge me. I really did. I honestly didn’t know how to wrap my little wifely head around how to spend extra time planning a date or having the energy to have this added responsibility to either of us. We’re on the go all the time and it’s hectic. BUT, when we broke it down at the beginning of the year – we took the pressure off because we realised that if we’re applying the four 1’s principle – we can make the “night away” a planned special rah rah and bring the weekly date down a notch. So, what we do is take a slot when the kids are all at extra murals and go and grab a coffee or take a walk or just do something silly with the two of us. Where we just get to be the two of us for an hour, alone! Best pressure removal ever! Dates don’t have to cost money or be fancy and movie romantic – it’s about connecting.
1 Night Away A month
This, my dear friends has been the life saver for us! Also – thank you to all the Air BnB’s of this world. (Ok, lockdown kind of messed it up – but we got our groove back) We set aside some budget every month to find cute little air bnb’s around Cape Town that we could try out. Got our support system in place to have the kids seen to monthly on the same rotation so that no one felt burdened or the kids didn’t feel left with people we don’t trust. Set up the calendar for the year (Covid messed that up too) and it was amazing for three months. And, just so you know, the one month we couldn’t afford to go to a BnB and so we did a “Staycation” and had the kids picked up and sorted as normal and we just had the house to ourselves without them. Ordered take out (cheapies) did a movie online and it worked! Just for those that can’t afford going away – this also works. The main thing we like to do on these night’s away (besides the rest and “relaxation” *wink *wink) is, we like to dream together. We talk about what we want to do in our lives one day, what we hope for our home, what we dream for our kids and each other. The key is to dream and not talk about where we’re at at the moment. It’s healthy to dream together and not get bogged down with the struggles of the everyday. By doing this together – we’ve often come out of it with both of our hearts uniting on something and then pursuing it together outside of the everyday stuff – and it pumps us up to not only see how little dreams can come true but also how God is listening in our conversation and then steps in to provide for those dreams.
1 Week away a Year
Ok, so we haven’t quite done this one yet because it was only due later this year. So when we do it, we will definitely share the benefits and the Macguyver moves we did to get it right. We did write it up in the calendar and we were all set to go at the beginning of October but with the current events – it’s proving a little difficult to get right. But we are getting our heads together to do it for sure.
This has been a lot – and I’m hopeful it’s helpful to anyone out there, no matter where you are in your relationship journey. The Bible says, “where there is unity God commands a blessing.” Where better to get connected and make sure you’re trying to continuously be on the same page than in a marriage. I do pray for those that are “missing” each other and aren’t finding it easy to connect – I pray you “find” each other and start towards building strong.