It was right before my wedding, and seemingly out of nowhere my dad turned to me and said:
“I have one thing I want to tell you about marriage, and if you listen to this advice, you won’t need much more. Spend 20 minutes of every day focused on each other. No matter how busy your day is, you have to find the time to intentionally focus on one other.”
I thought for a second, but it made immediate sense to me.
I’d already seen how busy weeks made us miss each other, even if we’d technically been sharing the same space. How sometimes, we’d get into bed after a really long day and for the first time in hours, look at each other with no screens or stresses, plans or pretenses, questions or expectations between us. How in those moments we’d really see each other and say “hi!” — totally realizing we’d been disconnected for hours. And how too many of those days strung together made me feel a little incomplete.
On the flip side, I know how perfect our relationship is when we’re on vacation — when being together is the point. How nice it is being in boring places like airports or on a long drive, just us + the world. That feeling on the couch when we turn off the TV, close the laptops, push the iPads, iPhones and magazines to the side, hug it out and breathe.
I knew immediately that my dad’s advice was truth. But like any child talking to a parent, out came the questions.
“Does eating dinner together count?”
“No. You need to be focused on only each other.”
“Okay…but what if we can’t do 20 minutes? Sometimes I feel like we can’t even do 20…”
“Then do 15, 10, or even five.”
“Yea? That still works?”
“It’s not as good, but it’s better than zero.”
“Hmm…O.K. Thanks dad, I totally understand why this could work.”
With so many of my friends getting married right now, I’ve been sharing my dad’s advice with a lot of people. And everyone seems to think for a second, but inherently understand it immediately. They’ve all gone on to share the thought with others, so I wanted to get it down somewhere for even more to consider.
Maybe this one simple idea can help a marriage or two — or at the very least, inspire a few couples to turn their focus to each other for 20 minutes, really see each other, and say “hi.”