So often in relationships we find ourselves repeating conversations, especially ones that concern the bulk of recurring tasks like finances, child care, and calendar planning. From time to time, talking over the same things is exhausting and repetitive, especially if there is an overdue task. In order to prevent total burnout, it's important to spend time together not talking, where you are physically adjacent and enjoying a quiet activity; something called Shoulder Time.
The concept of Shoulder Time is simple and it breeds stability and connectedness indirectly; something we all need in order to recharge. Stephen and I have successfully blocked off a period each night to be our time, but what we found through trial and error was that sitting down at the dining table or couch every night was putting a little pressure on us to have "something" to talk about. And honestly, there are nights where we are both so exhausted that the conversation felt forced, even though we are both pretty chatty to begin with. But how can we foster emotional intimacy without forcing it?
A night "off" of chatting is important too, so we set aside Thursday nights as our laundry folding and TV night. Poldark is the latest show we've finished; a captivating tale of a British soldier who fought in the American Revolution, then returned 3 years later to his home in Cornwall to a polarized society composed of fine ladies and gentlemen (think Downton Abbey), and hard working poor. It was romantic, with beautiful scenery of Cornwall's coast, and the characters were magnetic. The show gave us a chance to hold hands, sit together, and avoid discussing our overflowing to-do lists or complaints about our day.
Watching a show, reading, praying, even just walking or driving quietly is necessary time off to just relish each other's company. Shoulder Time enables physical closeness and mindful presence without pressure to perform, in more ways than one.
Additionally, Shoulder Time is a gateway to emotional intimacy. Some of us find it difficult or awkward to discuss our emotions, and context is everything. After a period of quiet (and internal thoughts) physically near their loved ones, we are more likely to share more intimate thoughts and desires. Most often, women want to be trusted with their guy's emotional expression, and providing the context of a calm environment sets the tone for closeness, both physically and psychologically.
Every couple has their own ways of developing what Shoulder Time means for them. For some, it could be a hike, for others, it could be watching a sports event on mute, or doing something creative simultaneously in the same space. I encourage you to prioritize Shoulder Time; what comes of it may surprise you.