1% in 2014

Each new year many people start off strong, with lofty goals and ideas to implement.

There’s nothing wrong with these resolutions – I make them too.

But, what if I were to challenge you that if you only focus on 1% – this next year could completely transform your marriage?

Put another way, if someone challenged you to “give a full 1% of your time each week” to each other, to just be together, peacefully sifting through the bits and pieces of your lives; giving space for your love to recover, heal, discover and grow… how would you respond?

“1%?  Really … that’s nothing! We give a lot more than that!”

Really? Do you already give that much?

More precisely, it’s 1 hour & 40 minutes & 48 seconds per week. Heck. Round it off to 1.5 hours, or  0.89%.

On the face of it, this does not seem an unreasonable request. But how many of us enjoy this real living together  for this 1% of the week?

One survey suggests that 16% of couples manage a weekly date night, but I suspect this is often a movie or some other kind of entertainment not geared toward the quiet interest and seduction I’m suggesting.

Westerners have forgotten the present. Bit by bit they have whittled it down to nothing, and to retrieve it, they must undergo a genuine re-education. ~ Jean-Louis Servan-Schreiber

As you’re reading this, ask yourself – what real living am I hoping and planning to fully enjoy today?

Blaise Pascal mused that most of us spend our energies planning to fully live and to be happy sometime in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. “It is inevitable” he writes, “that we shall never be happy, as we are always planning on a time which we rarely reach,” … that of really living with each other, in the present.

Pascal suggested that our lives are full of tasks and distractions which stop us from getting to the good bits!

The day runs out before we get to the living. Even more sobering, our lives may run out as well.

We may need help.

I’m going to suggest that nothing breaks into this madness better than sitting idly with your lover, “practicing the presence” of each other.

I urge my clients to “just show up” in each other’s lives without much fuss. Be 100% present. Think of how easily, happily and perhaps even deliriously we did this in the early days of love together. Suddenly it was 3 a.m. Timeless, wonderful, so good.

Think about your spouse right now. Is this your experience these days?

I know, naysayers will cry “life changes!”

Kids, work, aging, bills, driving, more work, resentments, and that awful “creeping separateness” which leaves us, perhaps not as enemies, but maybe as roommates!

Ok then. How about this.

In 2014, focus 1% of your life on some sort of dreamy, healing, restoring and enlivening bliss. You can keep on as usual in the other 99%.

I’m going to suggest that this 1% experience will have a striking impact on the other 99% of your life. It can also be addicting.

Many are nearly always tempted to shelve the “1% experience” as it seems a bit of a waste of time.

Don’t.

Practicing the presence of each other can almost be done in silence, and perhaps sometimes should be. Words are so often used to push each other about as we try to negotiate a better deal for ourselves. (In therapy I often encourage couples to make love, to go for a long walk, and to enjoy an entire meal, all in complete silence. The results are sometimes quite fantastic!)

If you have plants in your home or office, then you know the importance of watering. It takes 2-3 minutes of your time, but the result is amazing.

This 1% is just the same. Water your relationship for a few minutes each week and it will thrive (as opposed to just “getting along ok”); if you don’t water it, it will die.

If possible, see if you can agree upon a time that might work for you each week.  i.e. – when the kids are in the pool, or at lessons, or a regular drop-off at friends or the grandparents.

Each week this 1% (watering the plant so to speak) is a picking up of the ongoing conversation of this elegant relationship.

Here’s an easy and revealing possibility for your next 1% time together:  Begin to talk through these two questions together…

What are the things that fill my life, that for me … just aren’t the really living parts! The tasks, the details, the responsibilities, etc. that keep surfacing moment by moment throughout my days; the things that never seem to get done?

What are (dreaming a bit) the “really living” things I’d love to enjoy with you WAY more? The things that may have got marginalized, the things that perhaps once filled our relationship and living together, the things I’d like to bring back?

One of the things just might be … spending my 1% with you each week.

Pick up the watering can. Go wild!

*Adapted from Todd Sellick of A Private Affair

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