Let me first start out this post by saying how much I loved date night last week! It was seriously a simple date. We went to a restaurant that neither of us had been to before but had been wanting to go to and then followed it up by a little dessert at a favorite spot down the road from where we were. We brought the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work with us on our date and we asked one another questions from in the book and it was FABULOUS! According to Dr. Gottman, my husband and I are in pretty good shape, but when you read some of those questions, you are pretty much disappointed in yourself for not knowing the answer… for example: neither my husband or I could tell you what each other’s top 3 movies of all time are. How lame are we? Well, not any more! We asked and answered questions, we ate crab and clams and shrimp. It couldn’t have been more splendid.
Now, let’s talk a little about this week’s topic: Turning Towards Each Other. What the heck does that mean anyway? I like to sleep facing the opposite direction….
With all seriousness, Dr. Gottman explains that all of us have what are called bids for attention. True story. Here’s an example in our home (this one happens a lot):
me:” Does anyone else know how to do laundry around here?”
Apparently no one else in my home knows how to do laundry. When I die, they will all be wearing dirty clothes or perhaps this is when they will hire that maid I’ve been asking for.
What was I really saying when I asked that snarky question? I was really saying/asking “I’m overwhelmed with chores right now, can someone please help get the laundry finished?”
Now, that would probably make more sense, but we don’t work that way, do we? How often do we sit down on the couch with a heavy sigh or just hint at what we need/want without really saying it. These are the bids that Dr. Gottman is talking about.
He then teaches us that we need to turn toward one another, not the bed time snuggling, but the reality of answering those bids. So when I make another comment “why is there dog hair all over the rug?” My husband instead of ignoring me, would go grab the vacuum and get it all cleaned up. Doesn’t that sound just like heaven?
I tell you, it is a little slice of heaven. When my husband and I are communicating well and really listening to one another and the bids that we put out, life is pretty darn good.
I’m sure that as the semester continues, I’ll have more to say about Dr. Gottman and the middle chapters of his book, but I’d like to skip to the end… not a spoiler though it is such an important aspect of loving one another. When I read this next section, I was happy and this is what I really wanted to focus this post on, even though my words may not be lengthy, they are important!
Rituals… not the sacrificial kind, but the really good kind. I know there are other families out there that share this ritual with me, but I want to focus on it. Eating dinner. Not just scarfing down food that you barely taste, but really eating a meal together. It doesn’t happen every single night around here, and I am grateful for that, because if it’s not happening then there is something special going on. However, six nights a week we have a meal plan at our home and six nights a week we sit around the table together. We have no electronics at the dinner table, there is no television on and we enjoy the company of our family. We bless the food, we serve the food, we eat and converse. Each night at the dinner table, each person at the dinner table (guests included) have to share a good deed that they did during the day. This is the ritual that I am most proud of in our family. It makes my heart warm and it’s a moment in our day that we share a little bit of the light of Christ that fills our hearts and our home.
Many years ago, our pediatrician told us of a study that was published which stated some horrible facts about children. It scared me and at the time I was a single mom with four children. She taught me how important it was to have regular family meal times, and I immediately went into action. She told me that having regular meal time with your children is the number one preventative measure that can be taken to keep your children from dabbling in drugs, having premarital sex, and delinquency in general. I took a step forward that day and I haven’t looked back. I now relish each night at the dinner table and hearing the good that my children do in the world, even if it’s just loaning someone a pencil.
I challenge each of you to make it a point to have meals as a family around the table with no TV and no electronics. Talk to one another. Learn about each other’s lives and build a ritual that can keep your children safe with so little effort. I promise, the rewards you will reap are worth it.
Share with me what rituals that you have with your family that I need in my life!