Disengaging from Distractions

Smartphone_AddictionSteve and I went on a romantic getaway back in April to visit Asheville, NC. If you’ve never seen this majestic town, you really should. Asheville is nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains and is known for some of the most beautiful scenery around. It was our first time staying at a bed and breakfast, and it certainly won’t be our last. What an amazing experience waking up in this quaint manor home for breakfast each morning!

The first morning we were there we were like little kids who couldn’t wait to see what Santa brought them. We jogged down the grand stair case and made our way out to the expansive front porch that was already occupied with other guests sitting at small bistro tables awaiting their gourmet breakfast. Sitting at our small table for two, we marveled at the fresh cut flowers in the small crystal vase, the pleasant music piped in over the speakers, and the glorious smell of Nutella stuffed crepes. Steve and I just sat there and soaked it all in as we relished this precious time together.

As I sat there, however, I began noticing who our neighbors were at the adjacent tables. There was an older couple to our left eating and not talking. Then beyond that couple sat a younger couple, who, we figured out later, were staying in the honeymoon suite. Behind us and further up the porch sat a couple closer to our age. One thing they all had in common: they were all absorbed into their smart phones the entire breakfast. Yes, even the honeymoon couple.

That truly saddened me. Yes, I love my phone and I am on it more than I should be. But, I know what it means to truly value time with Steve and my phone isn’t part of that scenario. Well, I did pull my phone out to take photos of the food, which is cheesy, but the display on that plate was just gorgeous and worthy of a photo! Regardless, I wanted to talk to my husband, listen to my husband, and be with my husband. None of those things involve my phone – or, at least, it shouldn’t.

In today’s technology ridden society, could it be that we have lost touch with the human experience of conversation, eye contact, and true physical engagement? I hope this isn’t the case, but the more I look around me, the more I see smart phones distracting us from human contact. This can be harmful to any relationship – especially to a marriage. Since this trip I’ve made it a point to look around at restaurants and make note of who is conversing and who is on their phone. I was blown away at the number of people who spent most of their time out to dinner with someone engaged in their phone instead of engaged with the person sitting across from them.

I propose that we disengage from the distractions of the handy little device we carry around everywhere we go. Just put it down. Charge it. Put it on “do not disturb.” Whatever it takes to make us look up and engage the humans around us, especially our spouses. Make eye contact. Smile at them. Listen to them. Talk to them. Laugh with them. Our relationships can only get better if we do.

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Turning Anger Into Intimacy

There is a sweet family that attends my church – mom, dad and a little boy and girl, both under the age of eight. This family is very active in our community and always seems to have smiles on their faces. Quite frankly – this is one of those families that I look at and envy at times as I wonder if I portray such grace and joy wherever I go (I doubt I do).

The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw that the mom in this family posted that they had missed their families flight to New Mexico. Apparently it was the day before and they simply read the date wrong and thought it was the following day. Regardless, I can only imagine the emotions that must have fluttered by as they realized their mistake. I, for one, would have been bombarded with anger, frustration, worry, regret, and so much more.

What was simply amazing about this post on Facebook was the picture that came along with the post (see below). It was a “selfie” of her and her husband in the front seat of their minivan with their two precious kiddos in the back and they all had bright beautiful smiles on their faces. I have no idea what took place prior to this happy photo, but her post said something like, “Well, I guess we’re road tripping this thing all the way to New Mexico! Family adventure time!”

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I know, right? I was floored at their good attitudes. And, I was amazed at how a potentially angry situation turned into a beautiful intimate moment for their family. Again, I’m not sure how they got to that happy place because they certainly could have simply gotten to a good place after sorting through all the negative stuff. But, regardless of how they got there, there they were. Smiling. Excited for their adventure.

I’ve seen other pics they’ve posted along the way and I bet they are happy things turned out this way and glad they took their good attitudes along for the ride. How often have we missed an opportunity to turn our anger into intimacy with our spouses and our families? Anger is such a strong emotion that it is hard to turn that feeling around into something beneficial for the relationship.

My mom used to call this “making lemonade out of lemons” and I’ve tried to do this as often as I could over the years. I have especially done this in my marriage and have found it to be a valuable tool. One instance that comes to mind is when my husband and I took a motorcycle trip to the mountains one Labor Day weekend. I wasn’t super keen on taking the bike because it may rain. Steve assured me all would be fine and off we went. I’ve been known to complain and put down his ideas in the past when I had concerns something could go wrong. But, I tried to keep myself in check for the benefit of this trip and his enjoyment of it.

Well, as I had predicted it began to rain shortly before we arrived at our destination. Oh, and it wasn’t just raining. It was POURING! Steve had to navigate us under a small shelter outside of a fresh produce market in the middle of nowhere. We were soaked! Every part of my being wanted to complain and say, “I told you so!” But, instead I began taking note of what went right instead of what went wrong. We were safe. My head was dry because of the helmet. The rain was cool and refreshing after riding in the hot sun. And, this cool little fresh market had delicious apples, of which I was able to enjoy one as we waited for the rain to slow.

Taking time to turn a potentially angry and negative situation into something positive and intimate could be a valuable tool in your marriage tool box. It takes intentionality to make it happen, but well worth it!