I started this morning with a huge to-do list. After my yoga practice, I sat down at my laptop to start cranking away at all the things I wanted to get done. Everything that I needed to do was written out on a piece of paper. I was ready to start crossing things off the list. First, I would write a couple of articles about mindful relationships. Then I would schedule relationship coaching sessions with clients. Then I was going to plan activities for an upcoming couples retreat here in Bali.
I was in work mode and, somewhat ironically, the last thing I wanted to do this morning was to stop working and start loving. The last thing I planned on doing was to support my wife emotionally.
But then my wife walked in.
It didn’t take me too long to realize that she wasn’t in a good mood. She brought up an area of conflict in our marriage that we’ve been discussing for a few months now. It’s a conflict that might never be fully resolved.
I didn’t want to talk with her about it right then. All I wanted to do was get my work done. Didn’t she see my To-Do list? I was in get-it-done mode. Get-it-done mode doesn’t leave a lot of room for love and listening.
I sensed my frustration rising. All I could think about was the work I wanted to do. Even as she spoke, my mind was still coming up with ideas for articles to write and retreats to create.
I picked up my laptop and put it in my bag. I decided that I wouldn’t be able to get any work done at home today, so I would need to go somewhere else. I was ready to head out, angry that she was keeping me from doing what I needed to do in order to support our family.
What she was trying to remind me, though, is that there is more that I need to do to support the family than just work. I need to do more than support the family financially. I need to support her emotionally.
I took a deep breath.
I realized that in order to make the best use of this moment, I needed to stop working and start loving. I needed to find a way to give my wife the love and emotional support that she needed right then.
The work can wait. The writing can wait. The To-Do list can wait. Sometimes the love can’t wait.
I closed my laptop.
I allowed myself to be present for this difficult conversation that we keep having. When I felt myself wanting to tune out of the conversation, I consciously brought myself back to it. I worked to open myself up to love in this moment. I practiced listening with love.
At first it wasn’t easy. I was torn. My mind kept carrying me back to the work that I wanted to do. My heart kept pulling away and wanting to close off.
I realized just how much I think about work.
I took another deep breath and just allowed myself to be with my wife Lindsey.
Stop Working and Start Loving
As soon as I made the commitment to use these moments to start loving, I realized that she and I grew closer. Lindsey could sense that I was present for the conversation. She could sense that I wasn’t thinking about work.
As we had our conversation, we both softened. We cuddled and we kissed. I realized that it had been too long since we had taken this time to be with each other lovingly.
We ended up spending the next four hours together. After working our way through the difficult conversation, we treated ourselves to a day at the spa. We went to a lovely spa here in Bali. It has beautiful jacuzzis, saunas, and steam rooms. We were the only two there. We relaxed in the jacuzzi and looked up at the ornate Balinese stone carvings that surrounded us. It was like we were on our honeymoon. We felt love and intimacy in a way that we hadn’t in a long time.
I knew that I still had work to do. I talked about this with Lindsey and told her that after our mid-week getaway to the spa, I would need to catch up on work. She fully supported me in that.
From the spa, we went and picked up the kids at school and then Lindsey took care of them so that I could complete the work I needed to do.
Leave the Office at the Office
I realize that you might have a job that you need to be at a specific time for a set number of hours. I did that for years and I understand the challenges that that presents to you.
What I encourage you to do, though, is to leave the office at the office. When you walk through the door and arrive at home, simply be at home. Be present to spend time with your partner. Be present at the dinner table. Be present in the bedroom. And when you return to work the next day, be fully present to that.