Relationships 101: Attention

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Written by Amber -

Last night, we ended up in some really good, honest conversation with a friend about relationships. Chad and I got talking about some of the "relationship tools" we learned while we were at the CONNECT retreat a few weeks ago. (If you missed the my CONNECT post, read it when you get a chance. Good stuff in there.) While we were at the retreat, we had the chance to be away—undistracted—and learn from other married couples like ourselves and even some Marriage Experts. Everyone was passing around different tips about how they smooth out their communication skills and relieve tension in their relationships. Honestly, after hearing it all, NONE of it was rocket science. It's not even super breakthrough or earth-shattering information.... BUT, it works.

We love LOVE. And we realize, as a married couple, that you really have to work at it sometimes. I thought it would be cool to share some of that juicy info here on our blog in a "Relationships 101" series. We've been wanting to be even more transparent here and encourage people with the reminder that we're just an "average Joes" who are broken and messed up just like the next guy. Sometimes we're really good at making it look like we have it all together..... and that can be intimidating to others, actually. News flash: we do not have it all together. There, I said it.

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So one of the things we were encouraged to do together was to think about the things that hold our attention. Obviously, we want to be focusing on each other and giving one another the attention we each deserve. To do a better job of that, we needed to pinpoint the things that steal our attention away from our spouse (or "others" in general). For me, it was easy. My phone—especially my social apps like Facebook and Instagram—totally steal my attention from Chad far too often. The solution is not to throw my phone away to eliminate the temptation, but to recognize where I stumble and guard that choice. A new photographer friend of mine, Kristin, shared this nugget... 

Move all of your social apps into the last screen of your phone and put them in a folder labeled "CHOOSE". Now, each time you mindlessly go to use them, you have to physically scroll over to the end to get to them and then "CHOOSE" to give your attention to that app, rather than to whatever else it is that surrounds you at that moment. I took it one more step and added a "Time Wasters" folder of all the silly little games I play with my sisters & friends (no offense, guys....).

See what I mean? Pretty simple. We already had the rule of "no phones at the dinner table or in the bedroom", but this little added step has changed SO much for me & Chad in the last few weeks! It forces me to turn something mindless into something intentional so that I can take control of it and spend my valuable time with those I value. 

I'm passing on the challenge: Figure out what steals your attention most and find a creative way to guard your choice to use/do that thing. Now watch as the quality time of your relationships improve ;)