One major question I ask couples is, “how do you cultivate your marriage and spend time with each other? Mos of the time, I get,”Not much, we are just too busy. It is what it is!” I hear this new catchphrase, ‘It is what it is’ a lot. It explains everything that is boring or monotonous in our relationships. Cliché’s can be a way we initially start out a connection with our partners. We don’t want to seem cold or unfeeling to our partner even if at the time we don’t really care.
As our relationship progresses, we don’t want to get stuck at this first intimate level. If overly used, clichés’ can kill any possibility of your marriage advancing to the next level because the relationship can’t go to the next level, because you keep your partner at arm’s length.
People use clichés because they don’t want to be judged or criticized for having a specific opinion, or are just so self-absorbed would rather not engaged in deep conversation because other viewpoints might affect their own worldview.
How do we overcome the Art of the Cliché in our own relationship? We must reclaim the goal of spending time together. I like to call it, relaxed engagement. Matthew Kelly in his book ‘The Seven Levels of Intimacy’ calls it carefree timelessness. It’s significant time, two to four hours that you spend with your spouse without an agenda. You may say to yourself, “I already spend time with my spouse.” That may be true, but is it the type of time that isn’t influenced by the sense of urgency and to-do lists. The time with our spouses is often spent after work, after the kids are in bed, and definitely when you’re not tired. This type of time will not get us beyond this first level of intimacy that we so desire and the love we would like to provide our spouse.
So what steps do we take to create this sort of relaxed engagement?
- Schedule it. Before the weekend is out, set up a day for the month of August and set a date. To carve out this amount of time together, will require you to take a day off from work, or if it’s on the weekend and you have kids, you will have to solicit help from your parents, friends, or a babysitter. Start small, maybe once a month and try to build up to as many days as your monthly schedule allows.
- Remove all distractions, no cell phones, I-Pads, anything. Communicate to children as well as the babysitters. Contact us for emergencies, only!
- Allow your time to be moved by the day, no agenda or expectations.
- Finally, let go of the cliché! Start the conversation with a thought-provoking question. You just might learn something new.