By Lavern Nissley
Executive Director of Encompass Connection Center
Most of us go through at least four daily opportunities for connection with our partner and/or children.
Dr. Linda Duncan found in her research that there are four times of the day when a few minutes of positive effort to connect can influence a positive or negative outcome for the day. Want to know when they occur?
1. Sleep to wakefulness
What thoughts and attitudes do you display first thing in the morning? What effect do you have on those around you? What words or rituals do you have? What might affect the day positively or negatively?
For Ronda and me this has probably been our strongest. Nothing starts the day for us quite like a fresh cup of coffee and "Good morning, hon!" Following that up with a RINGS Chat and prayer is a daily connection we'll never abandon.
2. When leaving the house
How do you say goodbye? What are your last words? What are you thinking about in the first 5 minutes after parting? What tone is left for you to remember throughout the day? What makes you want to come home?
This is a connection that is easy to overlook, especially if things are a bit hectic and hurried, or if your partner is still sleeping. It is possible, however, to write a quick love note or text. Ideally, it's a hug and a kiss that aren't easily forgotten.
3. Coming home
How do you prepare your thinking for home? For reconnection? What are your usual attitudes and actions when you arrive at home? What is it most like: Warm reunion? Cold front? Lukewarm water? Other? What is your anticipation level to reconnecting?
Sometimes our reconnection with pets is more passionate and energetic than with our spouse or family members! After hearing a story over the weekend to that effect Ronda met me at the door yesterday jumping up and down, her tongue out like a dog! What a great moment!
4. One person goes off to sleep
What messages do you send to loved ones? Do you have bedtime rituals (really important with children and spouses)? Do you wind down to get ready for bed or do you merely “crash and burn?” What are your last words of the day to each other?
We've heard claims of better sleep when the day ends with some sort of meaningful connection. When our granddaughter stays overnight the ritual is an original silly bed time story and prayer. Affectionate words and touches with our partner will help start the cycle of connection all over again the next day.
Putting more thought and effort into these four times a day will make a big difference in your family life.
Remember: It takes two people to dance, but it only takes one person to change the dance. These four connection points are something you can start paying attention to with your partner and children – even if your partner is not a willing participant.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.