You and your spouse have decided to set aside time each day just to chat with each other. You like the idea of a daily coffee break after the kids go to bed. That's great! But, how do you begin?
Let's set the stage for a great conversation:
1. Choose the location. This sounds like a no-brainer, but if your life is as busy as mine, it's a good idea to pick a place. While meeting at home is ideal for regular conversations (my husband and I have a favorite couch in our livingroom where we usually chat), sometimes schedules necessitate meeting elsewhere. Coffee shops are a great place to meet, as are parks and beaches. Communication can happen virtually anywhere, but it's important to choose a location and set a time. If you don't schedule it, it may not happen. Skype and FaceTime are good options, too, if one of you is out of town.
2. Eliminate (or at least decrease) distractions. This means you'll need to put the kids to bed or ask them to remain out of the room during your conversation time. Our kids have gotten used to our routine, and it's now second nature to them not to interrupt us during that time. Shut off the TV and any other sound. Put your phones in another room. It's best if they are not within reach because it is just too tempting to pick them up and use them. Keep distractions in mind when choosing your location. Do not choose the loudest sports bar in town or the place where everybody knows your name; otherwise the distractions will be difficult to overcome. Guard your time with your spouse.
3. Adjust your attitude. If work that day got the better of you, or if your kids drove you absolutely insane, be sure to switch gears for your spouse. This is not to say that you can't discuss the bad parts of your day (of course you can, and you should), but check any bad attitudes at the door. Don't take your bad attitude out on your spouse. Rather, share your heart with your spouse and invite your spouse to do the same.
4. Focus on each other. This goes without saying, but it's amazing how many couples spend most of their time discussing honey-do lists, carpooling arrangements, and the family calendar. While these topics need to be addressed at some point, they are not great content for real conversations. Try to focus on each other instead of who needs to drop off the overdue library book. Save the honey-do lists for another time, and cherish these moments with your spouse.
5. Brew some coffee! Or tea. Or drink whatever you prefer. Put your feet up and relax. A conversation with your spouse should energize you and make you feel connected to one another. Sipping a great cup of coffee while laughing, chatting, and reminiscing will help you achieve that goal. It will become a cherished ritual that the two of you share and look forward to each day.
Following these steps will help you get started with your own regularly scheduled conversations. Done consistently, purposeful conversations with your spouse will connect the two of you on a deeper level and improve your marriage over time.