Recently, we needed some odds and ends for the household and went out to some garage sales to hunt for them. We hadn’t gone to any in a long time and we had so much fun together. We both felt really relaxed and just enjoyed the shining sun and the adventure of the hunt, while hanging out talking and sharing together.
What was so special about this foray? Changing up the pattern seemed an important part of it.
We have a great life and a great relationship. We are lucky (or perhaps smart enough to have arranged) to have a life with enough freedom to spend quality time with each other – we retire early each night to enjoy each other’s company, we go out to breakfast and work on the blog, we like going to afternoon matinées, we have a subscription to the local playhouse, etc. It’s a comfortable life and a comfortable pattern.
These times together create lasting memories: a play we saw, a meal out, a Netflix binge, but events that went beyond our usual routines also stand out: redwoods, a train trip, an Airbnb in Joshua Tree, and remind us of how much more is out there when we make the effort to reach out and grasp it.
Our situation has changed, as Maude has recently retired from her full time job and all kinds of things are now possible. The experience of these departures from our usual activities, and how good we both felt as a result, got us talking and thinking about how important change and new experiences are to us as individuals and in our relationship.
It is important in every relationship to find a balance between your comfort zone and actions that bring variety and novelty. As a species, we are a bit wary of the unknown and unwilling to venture out of our safe areas. It’s a basic survival mechanism, but when we do step out, it often adds to our shared experience and joy.
Even in the best of relationships, there is always the danger of taking for granted the things that are working well, and only attending to what is broken or needs special effort. It is very helpful to find ways to include new experiences between you and your partner.
We don’t want to present this as any kind of diminishment of the daily pleasures in the way that the consumer society whispers “Your old Multitron is soooo limited; think of the satisfaction a new Omnitron 2000 will bring you,” but as a way to open yourself up to the full possibilities of living. It’s not the scale of the event: it doesn’t have to be the Grand Tour or the extravagant party.
We have friends who have been together a long time and they made a point of taking a long weekend away every two to three months. After they retired, and as they are really into traveling, they changed that up and now take one big trip to another country or a place they have never been, usually for a month or so at a time. They prepare in advance, really get into making the travel arrangements and often get tapes from the library to learn the language of the place they will be going to (at least enough to ask for some of the basic things like a bathroom and to order and be polite.)
For us, going out in the community and hunting for treasure at the estate sales was a really simple but great adventure in just spending some time together without anything either one of us really had to accomplish.
In your relationship, changing up the pattern is important #relationships #marriage #quote Click To TweetLook at your mutual life and how it is organized. Even when it is great, it might be fun to see if there’s a way to add some newness in your shared experience! It may not even be an event with your partner – we wrote last week about the balance of time together and time apart. Perhaps it’s something that has been tucked away at the base of your mind like a retreat or a painting class or a fossil hunt. Go ahead. Stretch your self.
According to brain plasticity research it is really good for us to break patterns and do new things. It helps keep our brains active and perhaps even growing. We find it is good for partnerships as well. We would love to hear from you what you do to add some spice to your togetherness.