few weeks ago, we were exhausted. We had been working a ton, Jess was right in the middle of her school quarter, and life just felt really overwhelming. When I asked Jess what she wanted to do on our day off, we eventually came to the idea of a picnic in a local park. So Jess packed a lunch and we grabbed a blanket and headed off to the park.
We sat down and had the first bit of our lunch. Once we had finished, we had the weirdest feeling. The “lunch” checkbox had been checked off in our brains, and we were ready to go do whatever was next. Except there was nothing that was next. But we still had the anxiety about needing to start off on the next task. We talked about that for a bit, then decided to consciously stop. I laid back on the blanket and just stared at the sky through the tree leaves for what felt like forever.
We just stayed there, not doing or saying anything, just being together. We had consciously left our phones in the car, so there was nothing to distract us. For almost four hours, we stayed on that blanket, talking some, staying quiet a bunch, and just being in each other’s company. No TV, no phones, no checklist, just a sunny day, the shade of a tree, and an empty agenda.
I think that was the first time I’ve stopped to do nothing for that long in years without somehow being distracted. It was amazingly refreshing and utterly foreign to me at the same time, but it was an important reset in my mind and in our marriage.
Intentionally stepping away matters
As we talked about how long it had been since we truly disconnected from the world, we started to realize just how stressed we can get when we don’t intentionally make the effort to step away from life for a bit and how essential it is that we do that as a couple regularly.
Sometimes the best thing for your marriage is nothing. Deliberate nothing.
Conversations get deeper
Something else interesting happened. As the hours went by, the conversations that did come up were deeper–the time helped us to actually process through things and allowed us to talk openly about our dreams, our struggles, and our fears. Being able to relax fully and have no interruptions, checklists, or time pressure helped us to feel safe in opening up about the deeper things that we’d set aside for too long. Those deep conversations are important–they bring connection and emotional intimacy in your marriage.
It’s a time to unload
By allowing ourselves time to sit in whatever feelings may be there, we can process and truly feel what we’re feeling. If its joy, we can savor it. If it’s sadness, we can actually deal with the emotions rather than running away and hiding behind a to-do list. Talking about our feelings with our spouse helps us to release the bad ones and enjoy the good ones. And we get the added benefit of feeling closer together.
It’s a great mental reset
Time to just relax without any distractions does wonders for our emotional health and our marriage. By being able to de-stress and process what’s on our hearts with each other, we empty out our mental inbox and power our brains down for a bit. When we head back to the world, we feel refreshed, de-cluttered, and more mentally free.
So how do you get started?
This one’s pretty simple, but here are a few steps to get started:
- Clear several hours’ worth of time, preferably at the end of a day.
- Grab some food
- Go somewhere peaceful where you won’t be interrupted
- Leave your tech out of it
- Turn your brains off
- NO ADULTING
- Take your time
By removing any future commitments, you can allow yourself to relax without feeling the pressure of a mental countdown to a responsibility. It allows you to shut the grown-up part of your brain off for a while, which is amazing.
This could be homemade, take-out, snacks, or whatever you prefer. Just make sure you bring enough that neither of you will end up hungry for several hours. Having a bit extra is good!
This could be a park, the beach, a hiking trail, or something else. Getting outside is a great way to feel refreshed!
Phones, tablets, laptops, and anything else electronic has no place here. Leave it at home or in the car so you’re not even tempted to look and check the time. It was an amazing feeling to be able to sit and not even know how long we had been there…and not care because it didn’t matter!
From here, just go with the flow. Enjoy nature. Go where the conversation leads you. Let there be silence. Share openly. Listen deeply.
Relax and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t try and solve the problems of the world or balance your budget. That’s adulting, and that’s the opposite of what you’re going for!
Relaxing can be hard sometimes. For me, I have to consciously tell myself that I’m not going to be done when I’m not mentally stimulated. Taking the time to sit through feeling antsy leads to some of the best experiences–don’t steal that from yourself with impatience.
As we left the park, I felt more relaxed than I have in so long. All the bottled-up stress and pressure seemed to dissolve over the course of a few hours. It’s an amazing feeling and one that I hope you become familiar with too. It’s so worth it.
When was the last time you and your spouse did nothing together? What could it mean if you took some time to do nothing today? Share your thoughts in the comments–we’d love to hear from you!