If you follow me on Pinterest, which I highly recommend because sometimes I go buck wild with pinning awesome ideas, you may have noticed that I've been posting a lot from a website called, The Dating Divas. I'll talk more about that experience in a later post, but something great that I gained from the experience was learning more about a game called, A Private Affair.
Created by Dr. Todd Sellick, and his wife Jan, they have put together a game that allows couples to bond and reconnect. A Private Affair is a game of questions that can easily be played if you have an afternoon together or just five minutes in the car. When I came across this, I thought, How neat! This is perfect for couples, especially young, military couples. Relationships can be tough, with varying levels of difficulty depending on circumstance, but I can only speak on my experience of being one half of a young, married couple. We (I'm generalizing all military married couples, just roll with it), often times get married at a young age because we're on our own, separated from our families for years at a time, and even though we're married, we often don't get to spend a lot of time with our partner. These same problems occur for those who are dating or in other types of relationships.
I decided to contact Todd and Jan and they shared with me a post about the 1% Experience. Dr. Sellick encouraged me to re-post it below and I think it's a great idea that anyone can apply to their relationship.
If on your wedding day someone challenged you to “give a full 1% of your time each week” to each other, to just be together, peacefully sifting through the bits and pieces of your lives; giving space for your love to recover, heal, discover, grow, and to simply really enjoy each other…
what might you have said?
Kim: At the time, I was a junior in college and so wrapped up in everything that was happening. I was marrying the love of my life and studying at a fantastic university, life was grand. I also had a lot of ambitions in becoming a military officer and because of that, saw most of my life as already having a distinct path. I would have thought that giving 1% of my week would have been easy peasy.
More precisely, that’s 1 hour & 40 minutes & 48 seconds. Heck. Round it off to 1.5 hours, or 0.89%.
In the face of it, this does not seem an unreasonable request. But how many of us enjoy this real living together as a couple, for this 1% of our week? One recent survey suggested that 16% of couples manage a weekly date night.
Kim: When Ryan and I first got married, I didn't have a summer job because it was really difficult to find one in SoCal. We also only had one car at the time. Despite having little money and only one vehicle, Ryan often put together double dates with his fellow Marine friends. However, as I went to my station, things became more complicated. There was distance and then when we reunited int he same household again, our schedules were just completely different. We rarely fit in date nights.
I’m going to suggest that nothing breaks into this madness better than sitting idly with your lover, “practicing the presence” of each other. With my clients I urge them to “just show up” in each others lives without much fuss. Think of how easily, happily and perhaps even deliriously we did this in the early moments of our falling in love together. Suddenly it was 3 a.m. Talking, touching, searching, timeless, wonderful, so good. Think about your spouse right now. Is this your experience these days?
I know, the naysayers will cry “life changes!” Kids, work, aging, bills, driving, more work, resentments, and that awful “creeping separateness” which leaves us, perhaps not as enemies, but maybe as foreigners!
Ok then. How about this. 1% of your lives in some sort of dreamy, healing, restoring and enlivening bliss. You can keep on as usual in the other 99%. I’m going to suggest that this 1% experience will have a striking impact on the other 99% of your life. It can also be addicting. My wife and I started with 1%, but I shamefully confess that recently, this has gotten out of hand, and we are sometimes checking out for up to 2.5% of our lives!
We are nearly always tempted to shelve the “1% experience” as it seems a bit of a waste of time. We usually grab our 1% fairly early on Saturday mornings, and the temptation to “get things done” when the roads are quiet and the shops mostly empty… is quite strong. But then, at least one of us makes the other stop, and the lazy few hours begin.
So far, we have never been disappointed. Practicing the presence of each other can almost be done in silence, and perhaps sometimes should be. Words are so often used to push each other about as we try to negotiate a better deal for ourselves. (In therapy I often encourage couples to make love, to go for a long walk, and to enjoy an entire meal, all in complete silence. The results can be amazing!)
At the end of my work-week, the last thing I do before leaving is to water the plants (currently five) in my office. It takes me just 2-3 minutes. I do not have degree in botany or plant sciences, and forget how photosynthesis really works, and yet, the plants are thriving and regularly need re-potting. My clients think I’m great with plants! Ha! Amazing.
The “1% Experience” is just the same. Water your relationship for a few minutes each week and it will thrive (as opposed to just “getting along ok”); if you don’t water it, it will die. It really will. Basic science.
Keep in mind that this “lazily being together” is much easier to agree upon and to look forward to, than a time that we might be setting aside to “deal with issues.” (Ugg!) It should look great in a movie; the couple lingering quietly over a few cups of java, together watching life go by, musing over a few random thoughts and observations, perhaps fondling each other some, and “letting their minds leak” out in bits and pieces.
When we meet again each week for our 1% (watering the plant so to speak), we often refer to it as once again “picking up the threads” of our relationship, of the ongoing conversation of this unique and spicy friendship (marriage). Almost any thought will do, and we’re away. Think about it. When you first fell in love, as you were arranging to meet to be together, you neither worried about what you might talk about, or even if you’d talk much. The being together was the imperative; delicious, necessary, often hot and sometimes timeless. “Look! It’s almost 3:00 a.m. again!” Practicing the presence of each other.
Here’s an easy and revealing possibility for your next time together (join the “1% Experience” club): Begin to talk through these two questions together…
What are the things that fill my life, that for me… just aren’t the really living parts! The tasks, the details, the responsibilities, etc. that keep surfacing moment by moment throughout my days; the things that never seem to get done?
What are (dreaming a bit) the “really living” things I’d love to enjoy with you WAY more? The things that may have got marginalized, the things that perhaps once filled our relationship and living together, the things I’d like to bring back?
Kim: These questions really touched me as I thought about how at the age of 23, I've let so many things block aspects of my life and my relationships. Even though my partner and I have been married two years (versus 25 years), we have kind of fallen into this steady pattern of everyday life.
The concept of dedicating 1% of my week to just connecting with Ryan seems like an amazing and attainable plan. I truly think that this is something worth trying out with any type of relationship. I would like to also dedicate more time to maintaining my friendships back home and also here in Montana.
Thank you to Dr. Todd Sellick and Jan for sharing this great article and not only that but they're offering a copy of their game, A Private Affair! If you can't wait, check out their site and purchase the game for $29.99. You'll get a box of 500 hundred cards, split into four color groups where you can alternate from basic questions to sharing intimate thoughts. The cards ask intimate questions and can be very personal, but are a wonderful way to connect with your partner.