My parents and our dog Gus. He doesn't have anything to do with this story, but at least he's cute.

My parents and our dog Gus. He doesn’t have anything to do with this story, but at least he’s cute.

I’ve been in the midst of a very busy time with work – getting the preparations done for the book launch, ramping up with new clients and nursing sick kids back to health.  My husband came home from work tonight and we started right into cooking, talking logistics and all the while, we hardly even made eye contact.  This was NOT the way I wanted to start the evening or our week.

Just then I remembered how my parents handled their post-workday routine.  I was a child of the 70’s and it was still the days when my dad could make a commitment to be home at 5:30pm every night and keep it.  After he changed out of his work clothes, my parents got a drink (anything from tomato juice to vodka, depending on the day) and they sat down together in the living room to talk.

My sisters and I knew their after-work time was sacred.  It was a “no-kid” zone for 30 minutes while they talked.  It was their way of transitioning from the day and becoming present with each other.  Once they had their time together, my sisters and I knew we would get their full attention at dinner.  As much as I wanted to be in the room with them, there was something wonderful about seeing my parents connect with each other first.  I didn’t know it at the time, but this really was one of my first lessons in the power of presence.

I felt inspired by this memory tonight and suggested to my husband that we just take a few minutes to sit before we got into the thick of the evening’s activities.  He agreed and we connected for about 15 minutes.  It wasn’t a huge amount of time, but enough for us to breathe, make eye contact and share the highlights of our day.  I can’t help notice how different our evening has been.  Everyone at dinner was present and in a good mood.  The kids were strangely cooperative and right now, as I write this blog, my husband turned off the TV and initiated a game of football with the boys.  I’m not saying that presence will create a picture-perfect evening every time, but it sure made a difference for us tonight.

My parents celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary in late December and as I look back on it, I now see their commitment to presence with each other was the foundation of their successful marriage and thus the foundation of my life.

Experiment:

Make an agreement with your spouse (or yourself) to set a few minutes aside this week to become present with each other.  Use that time to take a few breaths and make a connection.  See what that does for the rest of your day…you might be surprised by the impact and power of your presence.