We live in an age of hyper connection.
We can text our partner at all hours of the day and night. We can track their every move using Google Location Sharing. We can even FaceTime them when we’re thousands of miles away.
So why is it so hard for modern couples to stay connected?
Researchers at UCLA have an answer. They followed around thirty modern couples, observing them like anthropologists as they ate, got the kids ready for school, and navigated the logistics of an ordinary day.
These researchers arrived at three stunning findings. First, they noticed that modern couples prioritize everything – their kids, their work, cleaning up the crusted cornflakes on the kitchen floor, and the random social requests of people they hardly even know – over time spent together, as a couple. Sound familiar?
Second, they observed that these couples spent a meager thirty-five minutes together each week. That’s right, they found that we spend, on average, about five minutes each day with our partner.
And finally, they found that, in those rare moments, when these couples actually did talk to each other, their conversation revolved almost exclusively around managing their to-do lists and life logistics. How about that one, familiar?
Together, these findings pretty much sum up our modern predicament. We’re so busy and distracted that we spend about as much quality time with the barista at the local coffee shop as we do with our partner. And we wonder why we feel so disconnected.
So what are we to do?
Here’s what we can’t do. We can’t just try harder to connect. We can’t say, “You know what babe, it’s a shame that we basically ignore each other all the time. We should really talk more.”
The road to relational despair is paved with such noble intentions.
The sheer momentum of modern life that pushes us away from connection is so intense, so all-consuming, that if we’re going to break it, we need to get more serious than just trying harder. We need a way to realign our priorities, break through our ordinary fixation on logistics, and to finally spend more time together.
In short, we need a Daily Check-In. We need a daily ritual that creates space in the midst of all this insanity, a space where we can talk about more than just the latest mom- or dad-drama at our kid’s school.
How can you do that?
Let's start with the logistics of The Daily Check In: spend ten minutes with your partner each day talking about what really matters.
You could do this while lying in bed before going to sleep. You could do this while walking around the block. You could even do this while packing lunches for the kids.
“But wait,” you might be wondering. “Won’t we just end up using this ten-minute window as yet another opportunity to hash out life logistics?”
Yes, you absolutely will. And that’s why you might want to add even more structure to your daily check-ins.
Enter Poop, Pop, 'Preciate (our short-hand for Poopsicle, Popsicle, Appreciate).
We’ve been testing out this daily check-in format in our family for well over a decade. It’s a lexicon for connection that came to us – not from luminaries in the field of marriage research – but from our daughter’s nineteen-year-old camp counselor.
The check-in begins with each of you revealing your Poop, or Poopsicle. Your Poopsicle is the low point of the day, that stressful moment, painful sensation in your body, cold you can’t shake, or difficult challenge you are facing.
You then each reveal your Pop, or Popsicle. This is the highlight of your day. It’s that moment of joy with the kids, that insight at work, or the fun conversation you had with a friend.
And, finally, it’s time to 'Preciate, or express one appreciation. This is your opportunity to thank your partner for something specific from that day.
Maybe they helped out with the kids, maybe they made you a cup of coffee, maybe they’ve been carrying the mental load of scheduling time with friends, or maybe you’ve noticed how hard they’ve been working lately.
The key is to be as specific as possible when revealing your appreciation. Rather than saying, “You’re a great mom,” try something more like, “I’m in awe of your creativity…you came up with such a fun song with the kids when you were getting them ready for school today.”
Full disclosure: the first few times you do this, it may feel like you’re awkwardly running through the script of one of those cheesy corporate bonding exercises. That’s okay. The more you do this, the more natural it becomes.
If it feels too awkward, too time-consuming, or too contrived, just remind yourself of the goal: connection. Put simply, the Daily Check-In is designed to help you to move in the exact opposite direction of all those couples in the UCLA study.
You’re now prioritizing your partner, you’re talking about something more than the ordinary blah of life logistics, and you’re now spending way more than five minutes each day together.
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