REAL Couples – REAL Issues – REAL solutions.
This blog is in a series inspired by real conversations between real couples preparing for marriage. The words they have spoken were inspired by using one of the guided conversations that comes from a self-guided course available at www.OnlineMarriagePreparation.com.
STEP ONE: How do we define our issue?
We need more quality time without distractions.
STEP TWO: Why is this important to me/us?
Bride: Within the last year I’ve become more easily irritated even over little things. My patience has dwindled because I’ve been feeling increasingly less loved and unappreciated. We’ve stopped doing the things that were most important to me when we first started dating. I communicate my love by spending quality time and this is the way I receive love, too. We used to have plenty of quality time and we made it a point to put distractions away (phone, turn off the TV, etc.) and have conversations. Now, it seems that the distractions are ALWAYS there. I know we have the potential for an amazing life-long relationship as long as we remember to nurture that relationship, and we won’t be able to have a good relationship if we don’t feel loved and connected to each other. If we cannot come to an agreement that allows for quality time and your screen time, then we should not get married because I will not live the rest of my life this way. I do not feel like we are partners when we don’t communicate.
Groom: I have noticed that I don’t get love back when my fiancé isn’t happy and spending quality time together with me is what makes her happy. I need to work on this so that we can have a happy time together. We need to feel love with each other rather than be 2 bodies living at the same place. I know I need to give more effort into this issue by not playing with my phone or being distracted. We need more quality time for us. I need to see what I can do to not cause this issue.
Bride’s Feelings: Hopeful, sad, open, fed-up, willing, ignored, uncomfortable, tense, optimistic, worthless, tired, angry, depressed, powerless, confused, frustrated, lonely afraid annoyed overwhelmed
Groom’s Feelings: Hopeful, sad, open, willing, guilty, uncomfortable, tense, confident, confused, frustrated, determined, motivated, encouraged, afraid
STEP THREE: What will a better future look like for us?
Bride: When this is resolved I will be thrilled and excited for our future together because I know we have the ability to get through anything together as along as we are communicating effectively. I need to remember to breathe when I feel angry and speak calmly and with kindness to remind you that that is the time to emotionally connect to one another and deepen our understanding for each other. We could eat dinner with us at the kitchen table and have a conversation instead of watching TV during dinner every night. And we need to put our phones away while we are out eating at a restaurant and have a conversation instead. We could have scheduled days for “dinner dates” and scheduled TV & dinner days. We could be more flexible with our schedule and plan ahead making sure we both know which time is supposed to be quality time and which time is open to whatever.
Groom: When this is resolved I know I will feel more loved by you and hence closer to you. I will feel accomplished that I could do something right towards our relationship. While talking I need to put away my phone and not be watching TV. I need to pay more attention to you. Maybe we could plan time together free from distractions. You can express anything and bring to my notice anything that is bothering you or things that I need to stop doing or start doing. We could spend more time together and go on dinner dates. Have a scheduled conversation every month to talk about issues. Plan fun games with just the two of us. Plan stuff with some close friends.
STEP FOUR: What are our best ideas?
Idea One: Schedule at least weekly dinners at home.
Idea Two: Plan quality time adventures (activities that we can do together where its more about us talking and being together and having fun than about the activity itself)
STEP FIVE: What will I/we actually do?
Bride: I will help to plan adventures and clearly state that this is supposed to be an adventure date during specific times so we both understand the expectations of minimal phone usage and communicating as the primary goal. And we will work out an at-home dinner date and dinner & TV schedule so we both have a balance of what we want/need.
Groom: I will plan that during dinner and when on dinner dates, I will not look up my phone and other things that will be distracting. I will try to pay attention to you at all times. We’ll work out a schedule so we can expect what we both need and make time for special activities.
STEP SIX: How will we know that we’re making progress? We will be happier together and there will be less anger and more patience and love. Our relationship will be stronger and more balanced between connecting and screen time.