How can we reach out to welcome and listen to each other, so that our bond can become stronger?
After a busy or stressful day, spouses often arrive home tired, each having experienced many things without the other and each with expectations for the evening.
Given this, how can we reach out to each other, welcome each other, and listen to each other, so that our bond can be rewoven and not unravel due to lack of time and availability?
Four marriage and family counselors—Mayalen Brault, Bénédicte Lucereau, Nathalie de Castries, and Laurence de Saint Vincent—gave Aleteia some valuable advice, and it begins in the morning…
1IN THE MORNING
The success of a couple’s evening time together “begins with the quality of our morning relationship,” explain the experts. So, before leaving in the morning, you can say a few simple words to your partner, such as “Have a nice day,” or “I’ll be thinking about you for such-and-such a reason …”
These phrases create a discreet and energizing connection that you can keep in your heart during the day in order to better meet up again in the evening.
Small messages of encouragement are also welcome during the day, especially if you know that the other person has an important day ahead (a job interview, client meeting, management meeting, etc.).
2BEFORE YOU WALK IN THE DOOR
In the evening, on the way home, it’s good to ask yourself what state you’re in: nervous, annoyed, happy, calm, exhausted, sad … And ask yourself a few questions: “What do I expect from my spouse? What do I need most? Some rest, a hug, the help of my children, the chance to decompress, or just silence so I can find myself …”
According to the marriage counselors, “It helps to name what is bothering us, our concerns, our worries and put them aside as we hang our coat in the closet.” There will be time to talk about it with our spouse, but ometimes the best thing is to postpone the discussion if we don’t know if the other person is ready to hear these negative things after their own difficult day. Why not share instead a good moment of the day, a source of joy, a meeting, or a conversation?
Before walking in the door of our home, we should also be prepared to find some clutter, and to hear the cries of children. “The important thing is to stay calm and come home with a smile on your face,” say the specialists.
Finally, we mustn’t forget to disconnect in order to be more available for our spouse. To that end, why not put our phone in a drawer or a box designed for that purpose, so as not to be tempted to consult it? “Turning off the television and phones encourages intimacy and reconnection with each other,” say the marriage counselors.
3WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THE DOOR OF YOUR HOME
Once the door is open and the “coat” of worries has been hung up, we can greet our loved ones, starting with our spouse, because it’s important for our children to see their parents express their love. Then, it’s good to “observe what is going on around you: is the atmosphere fluid, tense, joyful, efficient? What are the urgent needs, and how can I help?” say the experts.
4ONCE THE CHILDREN ARE IN BED
For parents to enjoy a moment together, it’s good for the children to be in bed. This requires certain discipline. The schedule must be respected and the children must know that there’s a time for them and a time for the parents. What could be more reassuring for children than to see that their parents get along well together and want to be together?
“Taking quality time every day creates a cocoon for the couple, allowing them to connect, feel good and draw energy from each other,” the marriage and family counselors tell Aleteia.
Sometimes all we need to do is sit side-by-side or face-to-face and look at each other, without saying anything (so many things pass in a look!). Other kinds of quality moments can include sharing a small drink or a dinner, working on a project together, or simply savoring the happiness of just being there. This is also when we can tell each other about our respective days, making sure to ask each other open-ended questions.
“And when it’s not possible to really stop and rest, then making dinner, filling the dishwasher or hanging out the laundry together is already an opportunity to take a little time to talk, share and laugh together,” say the four specialists.
Above all, it’s important to remember that the length of time spent together as a couple must be adapted to the availability of each person. “It can last just a few minutes, the whole evening, or continue in the couple’s bedroom to continue to share a moment of intimacy,” conclude the counselors.