*Permission granted to use authentic names.
When I get pulled aside in public about my Hands Free journey, people often bring up a topic that is not mentioned in the collection of reader email messages I receive each day.
While readers of my blog are quick to share their external distraction struggles and triumphs in most areas of their life, they seldom write about how it affects their romantic relationships.
But that doesn’t mean it is not a problem.
In fact, I hear specific details about distracted relationships every time I am out in public and someone expresses his or her desire for a more “Hands Free” partner.
Here are some of the comments spoken to me recently:
My wife is glued to TV every night; I wish she would talk to me once in awhile.
My husband is constantly on the phone at the dinner table, and he won’t stop. He says he is “paying the bills.”
When my wife and I drive anywhere in the car, she would rather check Facebook or text her friends rather than have a conversation with me.
Every night, my boyfriend opens his laptop and I never see his face the rest of the night.
The chance for couples to engage in a leisure activity for an extended, undistracted, and uninterrupted period of time is severely limited by technology’s availability, convenience, and habit-forming tendencies.
Perhaps you find this is true in your household, yet you may be wondering what’s the big deal?
So what if we sit side by side on the couch every night using our designated hand held devices and laptop computers? So what if we check our iPhones at the dinner table, in the car, and while on a date? What’s the big deal? We have the rest of our lives to spend time together.
Maybe you do.
Maybe you don’t.
What I am about to share with you is not my story; I am still very much a Hands Free Wannabe who too often chooses distraction over nurturing my romantic relationship.
This is John and Angie’s* story. I met this extraordinary couple seventeen years ago, long before I was married. But even at the young age of twenty-two, I could easily identify them as “the lucky ones.”
This message is as much for myself as it is for anyone who wants a chance to stand on the solid ground of undistracted love.
This is John and Angie’s story …
John has always been a hard working guy, putting in long hours while gaining the respect of co-workers and associates. He has served on numerous boards that bring awareness to topics related to strengthening families and children with disabilities. John has volunteered in many capacities, always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need.
John has endured the same daily stresses most Americans face in our stretched-too-thin daily lives. Yet, when John walks in the door each night, he is totally present. His focus is his family.
It’s been that way no matter what was going on in his life.
And John has never been “too busy” or too distracted to leave his wife a note.
For years and years, John has left love notes to his wife on the bathroom mirror.
Finally one day her mirror got so full, she had to take them down. But she kept all the notes in a box. To this day, she still gets them out and tears up while reading them.
John and Angie’s children used to laugh at what they thought were “silly” love notes, but they don’t anymore.
Once John was diagnosed with cancer, their children saw great value in the notes.
And they saw great value in what they represented.
For every word John was never to busy to write to Angie, she returned by loving him through his hardest days and celebrating with him on his easiest days. She enjoys taking him for long drives to nowhere, arranging short trips to places they dreamed of seeing, accompanying him on slow walks to build up his strength, and covering him with a blanket when his tired body rests after treatments.
Although she works full-time, cares for her children and aging relatives, she never loses her focus.
John and Angie had always planned to grow old together.
But things don’t always work out as planned.
They’ve managed to keep the cancer at bay for nine years, but recently discovered the road ahead looks pretty rough.
But here’s the thing; here’s the thing that slaps cancer or any situation that threatens a beautiful future right in the face:
John and Angie couldn’t have loved each other any more than they did.
John and Angie stand on solid ground knowing they never put off their happily ever after …
They didn’t put off their happily ever after until five more phone calls were returned.
They didn’t put off their happily ever after until the email inbox was cleaned out.
They didn’t put off their happily ever after until “Dancing With The Stars” was over.
They didn’t put off their happily ever after until all notifications on Facebook were checked and one more photo was posted.
They didn’t put off their happily ever after until an intense addiction to “Pinterest” subsided.
They didn’t put off their happily ever after until they reached a personal best on “Words With Friends.”
They didn’t put off their happily ever after.
They lived it. Every. Single. Day.
It’s the kind of love that gets you through the hard times and makes the good times even sweeter.
It’s the kind of love you can stand on.
It’s the kind of love that holds you up.
Distracted love, on the other hand, can leave you feeling ignored, resentful, empty, and unloved …
Feeling like you’re standing on shaky ground …
As if you could fall through the cracks at any moment.
So next time you’re in the presence of the one you love, instead of reaching for distraction, think of these words:
She’s right there; hold her.
He’s right there; talk to him.
She’s right there; ask about her day.
He’s right there; look in his eyes.
She’s right there; kiss her.
He’s right there; listen to him.
She’s right there; tell her she’s beautiful.
He’s right there; embrace him.
He’s right there.
She’s right there.
Love each other today in such a way that you couldn’t possibly love each other any more.
This IS your happily ever after.
You are living it.
You are living it.
Turn off distraction and focus on the one who stands beside you.
Because tomorrow your love could be the only thing holding you up.
Today’s Hands Free challenge is an invitation. And it’s yours to extend.
Send this message to the one you love. Simply say, “I love you,” and schedule some undistracted, uninterrupted time together with all electronic devices turned off.
Excuses like “We don’t have time,” or “We are on a budget,” or “We have kids,” will not be accepted. Here’s why:
In an article entitled, “Couples That Play Together Stay Together,“ author Staci Albrechtsen states, “One study found that extravagant outings were less important to couples than the little, everyday things they did together. In fact, being satisfied with everyday activities played the biggest role in couples feeling satisfied with their marriages.”
Check out the entire article here for suggestions on joint leisure activities for couples.
Perhaps you have some great ideas of your own to share. How do you connect with your spouse or significant other? How do you push away distraction and focus on strengthening your relationship? Leave a comment below or email me directly using the “contact me” button under my logo.
*And if you think this is a worthy message, please share it so other couples take one small, yet significant, step toward creating undistracted love.
The Distracted From Loving You by Hands Free Mama, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.