15-Minute Marriage Make-Over: Communication

It’s February and the chubby cupids and bright red hearts adorning every window shop, as well as the “Book Now and Celebrate Your Love With Us” signs plastered in front of every restaurant, couldn’t let you forget; it’s Valentine’s Day.  Again.

I love my husband.  He is my best friend, and my soul mate, but I have to say I categorically hate Valentine’s Day.  This “holiday” is merely another excuse to sell themed stuff, and make you feel guilty if you haven’t planned a fancy meal out.  At its core there is only one message worth noting, buried deep under piles of stuffed teddy bears and expensive red lingerie.  If you are one of the incredibly fortunate people to have found another stranger living on this planet that you want to keep, celebrate that love.  Don’t do it one day a year, make February 14th every day.

It was this message that inspired me to ask my husband for one gift this Valentine’s day.  He looked at me shocked when I posed the question, as we have not really celebrated this holiday in all of our years together.  I asked if I could I have 15 minutes of his time to invest in our love every day this month.  It may not seem like a big request, but if we ask ourselves honestly, how many days in the last month did you spend 15 uninterrupted minutes with your partner?  How many of those minutes were used to discuss your love, your partnership?  More likely than not, days often pass by without any quality time together, and if you get it you often find yourself venting about work, or talking about what new feat the baby managed that day.

The Book

My inspiration for my Valentine’s day gift is the phenomenal and highly recommended book “15-Minute Marriage Makeover” written by Dustin Riechmann who is a marriage counsellor and writes a positive relationship building blog at EngagedMarriage.com.  This short read, less than 100 pages, packs a punch, and we love it so much it is part of our Perfect Madness Toolkit.  This book takes you through 4 weeks, each with a focus on the 4 main aspects of a relationship; communication, romance, sex life, and finances.  Each day a simple task is provided within the theme of that week, and you are to use the 15 minutes you have set aside for you and your partner to work through it.  At the end of each week a one hour session is used to wrap-up what you have learned and bring it all together.

Celebrate for One Month Not One Day

So I welcome all our Perfect Madness readers to escape the confines of Valentine’s Day conformity and celebrate your love for a whole month not only one day.  Each week of the month of February I will share our favorite 15 minute exercise, and if you like what you read go out and get the book and join us!

Week 1: Communication

This first week we are taking a step back and focusing on building our communication skills.  Everyone knows communication is the foundation for any good relationship, romantic or otherwise.

My favorite exercise from the week; find your 15 minutes.  How simple of a request, and yet how difficult it can be to find.  We have built this life with our partner, they are central to it.  Yet within this life we also have a career, maybe some kids, friends, and hobbies.  Often  when time gets more and more occupied and we plan ourselves thinner and thinner, the first place we take from, is the place which always forgives and understands; the relationship with our partner.  I was astounded when we sat down to complete this first exercise and read through the task.  My first thought “Oh well, this will be easy.  Couple of minutes max  Just a warm-up really.”  How wrong I was.  You see my husband and I have fallen into a trap.  In our attempt to allow each other time for work, time with mates, time for exercise, and time for self-investment, we have started to tag-team parenting.  We both spend lots of time with our 4 month old son, Finn, and manage to have a relatively well-rounded life despite the young age of our munchkin.  But we don’t spend enough time together, and we absolutely do not spend enough time together alone.

I have to admit we failed our first task.  It took us nearly a half hour, double the allotted 15 minutes, looking at our schedules to try and discover an elusive 15 minute period during which we were both free and our little one was asleep.  In the end the answer was obvious.  Instead of sitting down in front of netflix every night with our dinner, we have decided to sit down at our dining room table and have a proper meal together.  Every night.  Now we have our 15 minutes to invest in our marriage, and in the simple exercise of finding it we have already identified an area in need of improvement, and more importantly how to action that improvement.

Well after we finish our one month challenge, we plan to keep this change in place.  It seems we have found the new face of date night with a baby; bottle of wine and a home-cooked meal replace a glass of the house red and restaurant cuisine.  But the most important element to a perfect date is still there, flowing conversation with my best friend.

Stay tuned for Next Week: Romance!

Main photo by Leland Francisco.