14 Minutes That Can Bring You Closer
Published December 27, 1979. By now the Christmas presents have probably been put on the shelves or back into boxes for storage. As you sit there trying to recover from the seasonal celebration may I ask what you gave your spouse for Christmas? Was it the usual shirt, tie and socks or nightgown and perfume?
When it comes to gift giving, we frequently think of material things and such have their appropriate place during the Christmas season. But there is one gift we all desire but relatively few give or get. It is the gift of time.
It is unusual how a husband and wife can live in the same house, sleep in the same house, sleep in the same bed, share the same meals, travel in the same family car, and yet spend so little time together on a person to person basis. In fact, Dr. Stephen Glenn of the Family Development Institute in Washington, D.C. has reported that on the average, a husband and wife in the United States spend approximately 13 minutes a day talking to each other on a personal basis. You are probably thinking right now that you and your spouse spend more than 12 minutes a day talking to each other. But do you? According to Dr. Glenn, meal times do not count because “conversations” such as “please pass the butter” or “is there any more casserole?” are less than helpful to strengthen marital relationships. Most table-talk is nothing more than simultaneous monologues, and with children present it is also difficult to carry on an on-going conversation about where the marriage is or is not going.
Other types of time together might be classified as “duty time” or going places a couple are supposed to go. These may include PTA meetings, special engagements, and even church meetings, depending on one’s religious orientation. At such functions there is little time for personal interaction.
Watching movies and television doesn’t count either unless you have acquired the knack of intimate conversation over popcorn or conversing regularly every 13 minutes during commercials. And much of the so-called conversation that does occur between husband and wife often deals with the mechanics of day-to-day routines, of running the home and rearing children.
How much time do you and your spouse really spend each day talking together about your relationship, about personal concerns or how you feel about each other? Do you attain the national average of 13 minutes, or do you fall short? When the children were in bed, the television off, and all other distractions minimized, so you could simply talk about each other to each other?
If you start out with just a few minutes a day you could soon be average. Then if you want to be above average, you can add one more minute a day, for a total of 14 minutes.