Do you have 22 minutes to grow a better marriage by dating each other? You may think you don’t have the time to date anymore. You used to date and spend quality time connecting with each other before you married. It was before you had as many responsibilities with “scratching” out a living, taking care of your family, your home. Plus, there are other demands upon your time.
And when (and if) you do have any spare time, you just want to “veg” out and do mindless things. You may think there isn’t the time available to just be together to closely connect as you did before life became as complicated.
But how’s that working for you? How’s that working for your relationship? Maybe it’s time to re-think your priorities. As Dr James Dobson said, “We must work to protect ‘what God has joined together’ with all the creativity and passion we can pour into it.” We agree! Dr Dobson continues, “This is done (in part) by taking time for romantic activities despite pressing obligations and over-committed schedules.”
Take 22 Minutes
What it comes down to is that if we don’t take and make the time to spend quality time together, we’ll lose out big time. We’ll still have all the demands life can dump upon us. But our relationship with each other will eventually erode to the point where there will be little left.
So, what can we do if we’re over-committed, time-wise, and stretched financially? How can we carve out time to be together? Well, Cindy and I came across something a few years ago in a magazine article that we found to be highly successful. It’s something we found that gives us some “quality” date time. It’s called the “22 Minute Date.”
This was based on an experiment that was conducted with a number of couples who were “happily married.” But they said they needed a “boost” in their relationship. Can you relate? Here’s how it worked:
22 Minutes to a Better Marriage
The couples agreed to take the time they might have spent watching a television sitcom a day (22 minutes when you subtract the commercials) and instead, talk.
- They were to make eye contact and converse with no children present.
- There was to be no radio in the background and of course, no TV. Also, there was to be no meal going on at the time and no doing dishes.
- They were told to turn on the answering machine (or ignore the phone).
- They were to focus on what’s positive in their lives. This wasn’t the time to bring up past hurts.
- They were to do this for one month.
At the end of the month the couples evaluated what this had done for their relationship and their lives. They said this was more rewarding than they had ever dreamed possible. They also admitted that it seemed awkward at first. And they found that they were looking at the clock a lot. But after a while they began enjoying the time and found the 22 minutes flew by. (Cindy and I find this to be true in our own “22 minute” dating times.)
22 Minutes to Reconnect
We believe one of the tragedies in marriages today is that many couples talk “at” each other without listening to what the other person is truly saying. We’ve found the 22 Minute Date a great way to re-connect and begin to listen to each other. So now, what we’re asking of you is to “try it —you may like it.”
To make this easier on you, we want you to know there are some wonderful resources available, designed to be “conversation starters.” One of them has been a small book published by Focus on the Family titled, Creative Conversation Starters for Couples. It has questions aimed at helping you to connect (or re-connect) with each other. It works best if each of you answers the same question.
So, here are some starter questions for you that came from this book. They are ones you can use on some of your 22 minute dates (both the husband and wife are to answer the same question).
• What was the most memorable date we ever had?
• If you and I went on a date together and we had [very little money] to spend, what would you like to do?
• In what ways are you different from your parents and siblings?
• In what ways do you think our parents’ marriages have affected our own?
• If you could have the autograph of any living person in the world, whom would you choose?
• What are your three greatest strengths? What do you feel are my three greatest strengths?
• In your opinion, what are the five most important things a man needs to understand about a woman and her needs? … How about vise versa?
• If you could personally witness any event in history, which one would you choose?
• How can we make our marriage more of a true partnership?
Stop and Start Again
Keep in mind that you don’t have to tackle all of these in one sitting. Just stop when you need to, and start up again where you left off the next time.
We also have more questions that are posted on our web site in the Communication Tools topic. In all of this, remember:
“Be imitators of God therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.“ (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Steve and Cindy
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