We can’t really talk about optimal health without looking at the quality of our relationships. When we came to this planet, we were meant to be connected, and though modern technology appears to connect us all more than ever, the double edge is that individuals are more isolated than ever.
For example, take the movie theater last weekend with my husband on date night. We like to go early to stake out the center bar (that’s the place you put your feet, not get your beer). That also serves as a time to be alone and talk while sitting close and holding hands before the movie starts. We walked in and another couple was already there which is unusual for where we live because, even on a new release, there are rarely lines and most operate last minute.
“Hey, you’re in our seats,” I joked.
“Yeah, we do the same thing,” said the woman.
They were “blue faces.” You know the ones. Heads down in their devices, sitting next to each other while completely disconnected, and completely connected to the news feed, or the work that needs to be done, or the Gmail. The man had even brought his IPAD and his lap board. The woman had her face in her phone.
Now I like the news feed as much as the next guy–or the text instead of the call, or the email instead of the letter–but nothing serves the human connection like a face-to-face sit down where two people are actually tuned into each other. Not judging, but it made me realize the importance of not being a blue face.
As we celebrate our 16th anniversary, I think about that couple. I wonder if they feel connected or if the technology is just a sort of self-medication to fill what’s missing. Relationships take effort–human effort. We have staked out Saturday nights as our date night for the past 16 years and we accent that with regular retreat vacations (both mini and extended) with just two of us. We’ve invested tons of money in tickets, in dinners, in lattes, in babysitters when the kids were young, in trips. Though we love doing things with other couples and groups of people, we carefully guard our “us” time where fun is really our only agenda. Those times are not for sorting out issues or dividing up chores. They’re purely for enjoying each other and enjoying this earth together.
This principle transfers beyond the spouse relationship to friends, parents, children, pets, employees/ers–you name it. Face time is important. Fun time is key. We need to surround ourselves with people who bring us up, who we enjoy being with…who carving out time to have fun with is a joy and not an obligation. If we truly seek optimal health, examining our relationships is key.
So much has happened in the sixteen years since Mike and I shared our vows off the Palos Verdes Coast in California. But one thing has not changed: we still consciously carve out time for fun together which bleeds over into other areas of our lives and leaves me feeling so very grateful that we are connected.