Over this past weekend my husband and I took some much needed time away. We have had so much going on that even when we’re together it can feel like we’re roommates, or co-workers, or maybe even the top executives calling the shots in our business of this life. These aren’t bad relationships to have but in my opinion, and very limited observation, having them in marriage is how a great relationship devolves to a good one. I know, a good relationship with your spouse doesn’t sound all doom and gloom but the operative word there is devolve. It’s going in the wrong direction because unchecked, good can roll down to tolerable. Eventually, wondering why the two of you bother and going your separate ways. Well, this is a slippery slope that I am in no way even willing to risk even getting near.
So what did I do? I went against every anti-planning bone in my body and I chose a weekend 6 weeks out that we would have a break. I set up a sitter for the kids and provided my husband with plenty of notice that while I didn’t know what, we were doing something together because I missed him and us. When his reaction wasn’t what I hoped for I found a way to discuss calmly in a separate time my intention and my why. All of this to say, the planning went well. I did all of the things I profess to be passionate about. I was reflective about why and how I wanted this to be a priority. I was objective in what the problem was and what my part could be in the solution. I took action consistently that supported my plan and was to the benefit of everyone. If you’re sensing a ‘but’ because this is too early in the post for a happy ending, you’re right.
We planned to drive 5 hours from home to bike and be near the lake. Minutes before leaving my husband decided the weather wasn’t great so we wouldn’t take the bikes. We got a later start than intended. I didn’t have as much time to pack as I wanted (and in a world where my husband sees me in glorified PJs every day I did plan to look like something while away) and therefore didn’t get to put together any outfits just haphazard tops and bottoms without enough socks. We got to the hotel late and slept a little later than I wanted followed by a truly lovely day where we most certainly could have biked. I didn’t feel great all day so that was a fun add to the hours and hours of hiking we did. All of these things ate away at me and detracted from our trip. I was constantly getting these little nagging reminders in my head of why it wasn’t perfect. Why I didn’t look perfect. Why I didn’t feel perfect. Why the scenery and the forecasting weren’t perfect. I could have let that pull me in an entirely unproductive direction that would have eaten away at our relationship if I allowed the time devoted to us be overcome by my nitpicking.
So how did I combat this terrible mindset? By telling that little voice to shut up, not dwelling on it, and picking any one of the 1000 of great things to focus on.
Voice: Shouldn’t have listened to him, bikes would have been fine in this weather.
Me: Shut up. Isn’t it great that since we’re hiking we can hold hands and talk more?
Voice: What did you do before this weekend that made you sick? Couldn’t you plan better?
Me: Shut up. This fresh air and activity is going to be so good for me. I’m so thankful I’m feeling well enough to be out here enjoying it.
Voice: There is so much more that you could be doing this weekend. Why didn’t you stay home for a work weekend just the two of you? That would have been time for you and productive.
Me: Shut Up! All of the stuff will still be there tomorrow. Today we build on us because without us none of that matters.
I’m not going to say this worked every time. I still said ‘I told you so’ on the weather more than I needed to. I allowed myself to pout on not feeling well. I got annoyed that the ride home didn’t go exactly as I wanted it to but (this is the good but) I utilized a muscle I had been building for my mindset to combat the negative self-talk. I pushed myself to refocus on the positive, creating a better experience for both of us. This is a practice, not something I’ll ever be perfect at. You need to build that mindset muscle. When the stakes are high you’ll be ready to flex and turn the spiral of your mind around to support where you want to be and where you want to go. Listen for your own voice and tell it to stop and make the conscious decision of what you’re going to allow yourself to focus on.