Marriage Tool #5: The Shared Activity
During our first few years of marriage, Ted’s favorite late night companion was the website Free Republic.
Free Republic, an online gathering place for the politically conservative to discuss the latest in politics. You see, prior to our union, freeping, as it’s called, was Ted’s go-to, end-of-the day, wind-down activity, one that he brought with him into our marriage. Most nights, after I went to bed, he’d still be curled up on the couch with his laptop (yep, those were the dark days before iPads) having “spirited conversations” with other freepers.
While there wasn’t anything wrong with this in his pre-Ashleigh days or even in moderation after our wedding, it meant that our heads rarely hit the pillow at the same time. Maybe one or twice a week. Most evenings I’d head to bed, while he logged in a few more hours of screen time.
And, the truth is, it left us feeling a bit disconnected.
Perhaps you can relate. It could be that after that initial newlywed bliss wore off, you and your spouse have discovered that syncing your bedtime routines — or just your routines in general — is a challenge. If so, I’m here to encourage you.
You see, things are now different at our house. Twelve years into our marriage, it’s rare if we don’t climb under the covers together, at the same time. These days, when we say goodnight, it’s lights out for both of us. (Although, I’ll admit that lately we’ve both been spending a few minutes before drifting off to sleep playing Frozen Free Fall on our first-generation iPads. It’s rather addicting, you see.)
So how did we get from there to here?
The number one thing that’s aided us in this change has been … drum roll, please … Marriage Tool #5: The Shared Activity. We are now intentional to end each day with a shared experience.
For us, this involves a retreat to the couch together to watch a favorite show. Ted with his Sleepytime tea. Me, with my hot chocolate. Both of us ready to hear a shared bedtime story. Over the years, we’ve not only taken in tales of 24’s Jack, but of Lost’s John Locke, Monk’s Adrian Monk, Psych’s Shawn and Gus, and Alias’ Sydney Bristow. When each night’s episode or three is over — depending on just how many cliff hangers we’re dealt — we head to bed, together, theorizing what will happen next to our new favorite characters.
And do you know what we’ve found? Going to bed at the same time is good for our marriage. Even if there are nights when Ted plays Frozen Free Fall in bed a little longer than I do. When we end the day together, we feel more connected. For us, indulging in a shared activity has been a simple, yet highly effective way to unite us on a consistent basis, to help us take the “his” and “hers” of life and better cultivate an “ours.”
If you want to feel more connected on a daily basis, make shared activities a priority.
The Shared Activity doesn’t mean you have to go to bed at the same time (although, if your schedules allow, I highly recommend it). What it does mean is that you are intentional to carve out time each day to do something with each other. Maybe you have coffee and devotions together in the morning. Perhaps it’s hitting the gym together or talking over dinner. Make a plan and start putting it into action this week. And, if you find that the shared activity you decide on doesn’t work after all, pick something else and give it another try.
Make sure that your shared activity actually includes connecting with each other. While Ted and I watch TV together, this isn’t simply a side-by-side activity. We go on to discuss and dissect what we watch afterwards, of course, but sometimes during. We relate it to our lives and sometimes even current events. We aren’t passive in our viewing or in the time we spend together. For us, it’s an opportunity to be intentional, together.
This is Tool #4 from my free ebook 5 Simple Marriage Tools You Should Know. You can receive the book free when you subscribe to my email newsletter. You can sign up using the form at the top of my website. You can read Tool #4 here.