The British dating site ForgetDinner.co.uk wrote that a couple married for fifty years will talk to each other tor only three minutes during an entire dinner hour. The Sunday section of The Chicago Tribune featured a cover story by Nara Schoenberg detailing the importance of having quality conversations everyday for ten minutes. This entails "sharing your private feelings, fears, doubts, and perceptions with your partner." Since we've been married for over twenty three years, I thought this would be a piece of cake, but after reflecting on our years together, I realized ten minutes could be an eternity.
When the kids are away at school we normally discuss if either one of us has heard from them. If I say "yes" then my husband's next response is "at what time?" For some reason that particular question sets me off into a tirade and the discussion ends quickly. While most husbands fantasize about their wives greeting them in a sexy strapless gown; mine would be perfectly happy if I held out a rib roast and strapped on a Timex. The next time I spoke to one of the boys I wore my watch, and told him every detail of the conversation. This lasted about four and a half minutes. Maybe we needed to go deeper.
The article talks about research scientist Terri Orbuch's theory of "affective affirmation" to show your partner how much you love them. This could mean anything as simple as offering a hug to show your appreciation. After my husband washed my car, I threw my arms around him to show him my gratitude. This worked well for about twelve seconds until my husband turned me around at the right angle so he could face the TV. Later when I called him on it he apologized and offered up an even bigger hug. It took me a few minutes before I realized he was also reading the sports section while I was backed up against the kitchen counter.
The truth of the matter is we're both perfectly happy talking about everyday inconsequential things. My husband is more than willing to talk about almost anything with me as long as it doesn't involve screaming, whining or spending money. Tonight we even hit the ten minute mark at dinner with topics ranging from the weather to what's on TV. For all of the other stuff, that's what girlfriends are for.
(This was originally posted on January 18, 2011)