Home Archive Prev Next

Why You Should Take the Time and Attention to Honor Your Relationships

Lotus flowerPHIL: Nearly every night Maude and I retire early, do the New York Times crossword, read out loud, watch Netflix and generally hang out together. We’ve come to call this time our Sacred Space – a time we spend away from the world and with each other where we share about our journeys through life.

Understanding and making sense of the world is a never-ending process for everyone. Talking about it helps with that, both because speaking about something makes our nebulous thoughts and feelings clearer to ourselves and because we get ideas and confirmation from the other person. For us, our sacred space is a source of refreshment and renewal and never grows old because we change, life changes, and our understanding becomes ever more nuanced. It lives and breathes because it exists in the present rather than being judged by the past, framed by history, stuck with fixed expectations of how we should be with each other.

This is our way of maintaining the connection between us, but it is also what creates that connection. Electricity passing through a wire creates a magnetic field, and moving a wire through a magnetic field creates electricity. The two results are complementary. Light is an electromagnetic wave where a changing magnetic field causes a current that creates a magnetic field that causes a current that…and so on forever.

Likewise, our sacred space is both what sustains our connection and what creates it. How can you feel connected to someone without knowing anything about them? So give time to your connections. This is true for every relationship you have, whether social or personal. It takes time to get to know someone, and it takes time to develop trust and show the openness that creates a personal connection; maintaining that connection and keeping it current is the key to having a relationship that is more than a memory, even a precious one.

MAUDE: Phil and I were fortunate to go to Lotusland the other day; it is a premier botanical garden, named one of the 10 best gardens in the world, and it is right here in Santa Barbara. Aside from having a wonderful time strolling the gorgeous and fascinating 37 acres, we were also so glad to have had this time together to share memorable moments and experience such beauty together.

Maintaining the importance and intimacy of deep relationships requires taking time and giving them our full attention. This can so easily disappear in the business of everyday life, even more now than ever before. It doesn’t always have to be a big trip or special event like visiting Lotusland. It does, however, require effort and awareness. It requires setting aside time, being present with your heart and your attention, and being willing to share of yourself.

In these times, where many of us have more limited contact with friends and family, this awareness becomes even more important. We need to find creative ways to keep our intimate relationships alive and in the present, rather than only warm memories of the past.

Phil and I have always been aware of the importance of the sacred space between us, and besides trying to share trips and events, we set aside most of every evening when phones are turned off and we enjoy a variety of intimate activities together.

I have been really touched by the efforts that some of my dear friends and loved ones have made to keep our relationships in the present, active and primary.

One of my long time sister friends suggested to me some months back that we be sure to have a phone call with each other at least once a week to touch base, but also to share our lives and our concerns, our joys and our sorrows. We also text news, share photos of family and events, and share a spiritual study group one evening a week. This extra effort was to maintain and at the same time to create intimacy.

Recently, my younger son and I have been taking a two hour walk once a week (he knows I’m trying to rebuild my stamina), during which we talk and share with each other. It is a very dear and special time for us both, and precious, as he has been working 10 to 12 hour weekdays during these times and I so rarely get to see or even speak to him.

For most of the year and a half of the pandemic, I was reading one hour a day on the phone with my granddaughter and my grandson (each separately), 5 days a week. My granddaughter and I finished the Harry Potter series and then embarked on a whole group of multiple fantasy series; she’s an advanced reader and loves series where there are at least 5 books! My grandson and I discovered the Merlin Mission books (part of the Magic Tree House series) and went on wonderful adventures with each other every day. During these phone calls, we laughed, they shared stories of their remote learning and life during Covid, and we retained real life present day experiences of each other, making new ones together each time.

In these challenging times, our relationships become even more important. And yet, so often they get neglected, relegated to the bottom of a never-ending list of things to do. Don’t let this happen. We need to stay present with relationships, and keep renewing our contact and joy with each other.

Photo credit: Phil Mayes

We'd love to hear from you with your questions or comments; click here and leave them directly on the blog.
 Headphone iconClick here to listen to Phil reading this blog.

Successful Relationship Reading Corner


Books on shelfThis week, we wrote about taking the time and attention to honor your relationships. Read these posts and make sure you do what they recommend!

Attention Is the Most Basic Form of Love "One of the most common relationship concerns we have found in our Marriage Checkup study is that partners stop paying attention to each other in the struggle to accomplish the myriad demands of the day. We are all, so many of us, so monstrously busy on a day-to-day basis that we practically tremble under the strain of it all.... And then, finally, sometimes, through the fog, we catch a glimmer. My wife. My husband. Our marriage."

10 Tips To Make Your Relationship A Priority "It’s easy to let your relationship slide a little bit in the business of everyday life. Especially during these times. Between working from home, dealing with kids learning virtually, and the added stress of living through a pandemic, it can frequently feel like we’re just trying to get through the day in one piece. But when one of you perceives that the other isn’t making an effort, then you both might be tempted to stop trying – and that’s where your relationship can start to deteriorate. For example, if you feel your partner would rather be on the golf course than with you, that can affect your self-esteem. And if your spouse thinks you’d rather be at work than with them they will likely start to resent your career."

9 Tips for Making Your Relationship a Priority "One of the common complaints I hear from couples is that one of the partners feels that she is not important, or that the relationship itself is not important—it’s pushed aside by work or kids or whatever. Sometimes this is situational—one of you is dealing with an ill parent or work demands have ramped up. But more often, it is patterns that you've both fallen into. You both feel disconnected. You may not argue but you also don’t talk beyond mapping out the logistics of the day or week. You fall into parallel lives, daily routines with each of you doing your own thing. You really haven’t had a date night since ... honestly, you don’t remember."

Spreading peace one relationship at a time
Phil and Maude
Read our blogs at PhilAndMaude.
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter and Instagram
Email us at philandmaude@philandmaude.com
If you are interested in newsletters you've missed, see our archive.
Do you know anyone who would enjoy this newsletter? Tell them to sign up at https://philandmaude.com/signup/