It was time for their once-a-month date out. And this month, they were going hiking. Not exactly her idea of a romantic time, but he really enjoys doing these kinds of things – being outside, one with nature, that sort of thing. And she wanted him to know she loved even this about him, even when she didn’t totally get it or feel the same way.
As they were hiking, they didn’t talk. In fact, except to see how she was holding up, he hadn’t said anything in a while. The trail was easy for an experienced hiker like him, but for her, the slight inclines and declines were proving challenging enough that not only was she struggling to keep in step with him, she was struggling to keep a good pace and good breathing. Forget having a conversation – all of her energy and thought was going into the next place to step and watching where he had been before her. And she still wasn’t quite keeping up. She was going as fast as she could, and he was taking a leisurely stroll so as not to get too far ahead of her.
As she walked behind him, her mind flickered “Well, I certainly can’t lead a conversation right now. Why isn’t he? We could be talking about all sorts of things, uninterrupted, and he’s not saying a word. Why does he want to bring me out here and then not say anything? I wish I could keep up with him. But anytime I get closer, he still doesn’t say anything. I wonder if he’s having any fun. I really don’t like this.”
When they got to the trail head, he turned and looked at her. “Thanks for doing this with me. I know it’s not your thing exactly, but I love being out here with you.”
Amazed, she made a mental note to do more of this kind of thing with him.
So, call me a marriage geek, but I am, so let’s just try to get past it.
There are two kinds of time we spend together as husband and wife. One kind of time is face-to-face time. This is the talking, and sharing, the connecting and studying each other. This is the stuff that we as women tend to look at as the time we like to spend with our husbands.
The other kind of time is shoulder-to-shoulder time. This is the doing an activity together, or separate activities in a close proximity to each other. This is quieter time with more doing or being and less talking. This is the time that husbands tend to crave as time well spent with their spouses.
So, let me ask you a couple of questions:
1. In our story, what kind of time were they spending together? [Shoulder-to-shoulder]
2. What kind of time was the wife wishing they were spending together? [Face-to-face]
3. What did the wife conclude as the end of the story? [You’ll have to read the rest of the post for my answer to that one]
Face-to-face time for women, in general, is easy. We get together with our girls friends, we talk, we laugh, we have stories to tell, we cry. We grow our connection through our communication.
But if you’ve ever gotten to witness bro-bonding in their natural habitat, unspoiled by wife and kids around, it tends to be quieter. More activity based. Ever seen a group of men standing around a BBQ? They might be asking some questions about meat, charcoal v. propane, and how many of them have lost an eyebrow in a freak explosion, but the conversation isn’t what’s bonding them. It’s the shared activity of BBQing.
I’ll be the first one to put my hand up that this NEVER EVEN CROSSED MY MIND as a way to show respect to my husband. I’ve said it before – I thought my husband was SUCH a great listener – because I never stopped talking. Even when my husband and I went hiking in a couple of feet of snow, I tried my darndest to keep a conversation going the entire time. Only when I had no breath left did I figure out that I could simply enjoy the experience WITH him and didn’t need to always be talking.
In my marriage, this has led me to do a few things differently. One is that my husband doesn’t like background noise. So as soon as he in work mode, I turn off the TV and sit or do dishes quietly. Also, I tend to pick up a book a lot more often just to be around him when he’s working. He doesn’t mind if I do something else as long as I’m close by.
This has also caused me to look at our date-night activities. Most of our date night activities involve face-to-face time and don’t get me wrong, I LOVE IT. But I can see how that’s not always what my husband would prefer to do. Recently as we rode bikes for miles, I thought “look how FULL he is right now” and I want to repeat that.
So a conclusion a wife might draw from this is to be mindful of face-to-face and shoulder-to-shoulder time. It is important that the time we spend together fills up both people in the relationship – through communication and connection and also shared experiences.
I dare you today to think of something you and your man could do shoulder-to-shoulder. It might be hiking, or gardening, or cooking, or reading a book, or watching him while he fixes something. Whatever it is, put it on your calendar to do it in the next week.
Share below what you did shoulder-to-shoulder with your man.