My wife and I see our frequent 4-10 hour car rides, countless dog walks, and moments before bed as moments that provide tremendous opportunity to deepen our relationship. But I always wondered, how do other couples spend this passive time together?
This passive time – or time that we shrug off as just another moment of life – happens day in and day out. By definition, passiveness is not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotion or feeling. In simpler terms, you’re not actively participating during this time.
When we’re too focused on creating epic moments, we forget about the extraordinary nature of the simplest things in life – the ones that we have to be grateful for. We forget that each moment in life has the potential to be something great.
Couples continue to face the growing challenges of balancing their relationship with the many other important things in life. The difficulty of work-life balance combined with unexpected curveballs makes each moment spent together more precious than ever.
If we are not mindful, the collection of these small moments can quickly turn into years gone by.
It is important in a relationship to have the freedom to develop our own passions but our ambitions can simultaneously take us out of growing together in a marriage.
What I feel makes our relationship unique is that we constantly make use of our passive time. We don’t try to make our time together epic in order to achieve happiness, rather we’re aware that each passive moment can be something much more.
Here’s how we make the most of our passive time.
My wife and I have shared many miles together in the car making several trips from Iowa back to our home town in Illinois over the years we’ve been together. Typically, I would express my annoyance with traffic or flick through the radio hoping to find a good station only to change it moments later.
Michelle would read a book and get lost in her own world. Sometimes an hour or two would pass without us saying much to each other.
All of which made the time drag by.
Our trips were kind of boring. We both saw these car rides as a necessary evil, something we dreaded doing. Until we finally changed our perspective about how we spend the time in our relationship, and we recognized this passive time in the car as an opportunity for growth.
We started listening to podcasts during our long, 300-mile car rides to visit family in Illinois. The podcasts we chose were intentionally meant to generate a meaningful conversation. Often times coming away with a new found perspective on our lives.
We’d branch off into our own discussion and share our interpretations of the deeper meaning. Sometimes, we would get so far off topic that we would forget what spurred the beginning of the conversation in the first place.
We would laugh and continue to listen only to pause moments later and engage in another meaningful conversation.
These passive time talks gave us opportunities to reflect on our values together on a much deeper level. We had mutually beneficial conversations about life, passion, relationships, family and everything in between.
Those once passive miles now serve as a chance to reconnect with each other and grow our relationship to a deeper level.
My wife is a work-from-home freelance writer and there is quite a bit of variability in her days. Meeting client deadlines, answering emails and building her own blog are all things that she can do any time throughout the day. While she is great at time management, it is easy for her work to bleed into the evening time we have together.
As for me, balancing work with my new passion in blogging is a challenge. Working a 9-hour day and commuting home doesn’t leave much time to advance my blogging passion.
Especially when you factor in dog walks, exercise and dinner.
We used to try and be as efficient as possible in our evenings – one person walks the dog while the other starts dinner – to free up more time for us both to pursue our passions.
But this relationship efficiency was overshadowing the small moments of togetherness. We were missing out on extra moments to reconnect and grow with each other in addition to our passions.
Instead, we started leveraging our time and doing these things together as our walks have become less of a chore and more of something we purposefully try to do. We fully engage ourselves in our walks, having discussions based around our failures throughout the day and how we can improve. We share inspiring thoughts with one another.
This is our pep-talk time where we give feedback to one another and help each other to re-focus our attention on our goals.
This constant effort of brainstorming and planning everything together allows us to come back to the house refreshed, satisfied that we spent time growing in our relationship.
The Moments Before Bed
Possibly our most important moment of each day is the moment we share in bed in the minutes before we fall asleep. Snuggled close, I put my arm around her as she lays her head on my chest. If we don’t make an effort, this closeness can get lost in the busyness of life.
In these moments, we reconnect through a simple touch. We know what this touch represents, and words are often unneeded as we lie in complete peace. We feel the love as we reflect internally on everything we have to be grateful for.
It isn’t a long “snuggle,” as she calls it, but just enough time to express our love to each other each night before falling asleep. We might chat briefly about the great things we did in the day. The wins, the failures, and what we will focus on the next day as we look for opportunities to become even better.
I give a trademark double-tap on her shoulder signaling her that it’s time to sleep, then we kiss and go our separate ways feeling loved and appreciated.
This, is no passive moment.
No moment is inherently more important than any other and we must always be grateful and explore the many passive moments in our lives no matter how minuscule they may feel.
By being mindful of these passive moments we began to appreciate the simplest of times together as these moments appeared more and more. This open communication and expressly nature of our conversations have led to beautiful and inspiring talks, ones that we will always remember in the collection of special moments in our lives.
As a couple, Michelle and I are blessed and grateful to have the time to do what we desire. But ironically, it is not in the abundance of time we have or the epicness of the things we do that we find the most meaning. It is in the little moments that aren’t even moments at all. The passive time.
All of which give us even more reasons to smile at one another out of the blue.
This is a guest post by Kyle Barichello at Choose Your Wellness, a fantastic site that’s about inspiring people to advance their wellness and create a more fulfilling life. Check it out!