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“Turning Off the Tube and Turning On Romance”

In the past I have made a very clear definition of what I consider entertainment. Books do generally not entertain me. In fact, I don’t read many (really any) books, due to a very short attention span. However, I do read quite a few magazine and professional journal articles each month. By professional journal articles I mean those within my career field of teaching. On the other hand, magazines are purely for entertainment. Those I read include Archaeology, Smithsonian, Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Hot Rod! I never know when I will need to build something ridiculous, or make the Camaro go faster.

When considering movies, I have easy rules to define what I find entertaining: things go fast, things blow up, and the good guy wins in the end! Pretty much what one might expect from a lover of Hot Rod magazine, right? I am a sucker for “period” love stories also, such as “Water for Elephants”, “A River Runs Through It”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, “Legends of the Fall”, and “The Notebook”. The latter, by the way, is the only Nicholas Sparks movie that does not make me want to punch him in the face. Movies which are sad, just to be sad like “Message in a Bottle”, where true love is thwarted by some force beyond human control, really tick me off.  Maybe this is related to the last of my three rules above; the good guy wins in the end. To sum up what really amounts to a bit of a digression from my topic, I have rules for what I find entertaining, as I am sure do most men.

Another form of entertainment is time with my amazing wife. In this instance I am not talking about the obvious frivolity and fun we have enjoyed over the last twenty years together (we have four children, after all). Rather, I am referring to the precious gift of time. Quite often, we are too busy to spend any meaningful time together. We work long hours, and the boys keep us pretty busy. Sometimes, it feels like we almost have to steal time away from the world. This time can come after a 12-hour workday for her, and a late meeting for me, as was the case last Monday.

I have rules for quality time also.

Chief among these is a limit of distractions to ONLY music. We have a play list titled, “Fireplace and Wine”, to which we have both added our favorite “just talk and relax songs”. This rule means NO cell phones, NO iPads, No Facebook, NO e-mail, and NO working on work. This is decompress and re-connect time. So simple, yet often so hard.

The second rule is TALK. This means, TALK about the world, TALK about politics, TALK about work, TALK about something funny that made you think of each other, TALK about the kids, or TALK about how your wife just got asked to host her own radio show! Using affirmations during this time is also a nice way to TALK. Rachel has written some really great articles on using this tool in your relationship.

Third rule, you may eat, or even cook during this time. Rachel and I often do this after we have both returned home from very long days, the boys are settled in for the night, but we have not yet eaten. Since it is often late, making something light, low fat and quick is a good idea. If cooking together, or just cooking altogether, is not your thing, you might want to consider my standby, Jimmy Johns! If I put enough lettuce on the sandwich, it becomes healthy, right? The point is that we are doing something constructive together, that we would have to do anyway. Plus, pleasing the stomach can only lead to happiness. I’m sure that’s an ancient Chinese proverb.

Since I am a man with a short attention span, three rules should suffice here too. So, NO distractions, TALK, and you may EAT. The real goal here is to foster romance through mental and emotional intimacy. Spend time; enjoy each other’s company, and debrief your day. You LOVE each other; treat each other like you do!

Written by: Terry Sorensen