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3 Minute Read

So apparently it’s a thing now. Like, 25% of married couples are WAAY into it. 

Even my grandparents, who would now be well over a century old if they were still alive, were into it as young as their 40’s.

I remember discovering their little secret as a newlywed, and after the initial shock wore off, thought to myself…that won’t be us; we’ll never do that. 

Well, it turns out my grandparents were ahead of their time, and I’ve to add it to my list of things I swore I’d never do or say, but every so often, ‘find myself doing or saying.’ 

You see, about every 10th night…I retreat to our guestroom to get a good night’s sleep because occasionally he snores, and I apparently purr; either way, it’s keeping us both up at night. 

I hate to admit it, but some nights, I’m downright giddy. 

I bid my husband farewell, stroll down the hall and gently shut the guest room door. Nestling into bed, I fluff the pillows just so and leave the bedside lamp on as long as I want- because I can. 

Once all comfy, I’ll leisurely alternate between listening to a favorite podcast and scrolling through social media until I drift off; with no worries of the blue glow from my iPhone disturbing my husband’s slumber.

After an evening apart, I feel a little bit like we’ve just channeled Queen Elizabeth and her prince as they sauntered out of their separate bedrooms; she in her silk robe and he in his smoking jacket.

Except, in reality, my prince is already sweaty from his early morning workout and my oh-so-not royal self is stumbling around in old pj’s trying to find glasses and coffee…and not necessarily in that order. Romantic, it is not.

I wake up refreshed, yet discontent. For me, there’s something lost when we don’t sleep next to each other; something is missing.

I don’t want to just ‘cuddle’ and go our separate ways

I want to fall asleep next to my husband, reach for his hand to hold in the middle of the night and wake up with him by my side. Sleeping next to each other over the last twenty-seven years has created a bond beyond words, and the less time we sleep near each other, the less emotional intimacy our marriage experiences. 

We spend the majority of our working days apart, and sometimes the only chance we get to reconnect is falling asleep…back-to-back.

So, when the demands of the day overwhelm us, or we’re just a little bit irritated with each other…there is nothing like holding his hand in the middle of the night to melt our frustrations away.  

My intent is not to debate the pros and cons of couples electing to sleep separately, because I know it’s a reality for many couples to get a good night’s rest. I’m simply pointing out that it’s one part of my aging process, I don’t particularly care for and I’m hoping to reverse the course.

Fortunately, we don’t snore every night…yet. 

My grandmother must’ve noticed my surprise all those years ago, because she casually offered, “Honey, your grandad sounds like a freight train, and sometimes a girl just needs a good night’s sleep.”

I pray we have many more decades together, but unlike my grandparents, I don’t want sleeping in separate bedrooms to become more frequent, or even the norm. 

So, I’ve decided to make that appointment I’ve been avoiding; the one with the sleep clinic…

I promise I’ll call…first thing in the morning, just as soon as I get a good night’s sleep.

Jason and his wife, Ann, walking Shoulder-to-Shoulder at his daughter’s wedding.

3 Minute Read

It’s taken time to understand and recognize, perhaps years if I really think about it, but something amazing happens when you get “shoulder to shoulder” with a loved one.  

In my case, it’s been with either my wife of 25 years or one of our 20-something daughters.  

Conversation and communication unfold with a depth and authenticity that doesn’t happen any other way.  

Living in a house full of lovely women, there’s rarely a lack of conversation. As a mild introvert, I haven’t always been central to the conversation; I was never excluded but neither did I always include myself. Fortunately, that’s changed in a monumental way.

When our daughters became teenagers, my wife and I discovered an openness and honesty our girls conveyed only during our “shoulder to shoulder” runs.  

Something changed as our gaze looked ahead and our breathing became more and more distressed.  

Real stuff started coming out of their mouths, stuff neither of us had heard from them before.  Stuff that mattered: hopes, dreams, fears, concern, you name it, it came out on those runs and they volunteered it!  

I loved, and still do love those runs. I would learn more about my daughter(s) in 30-60 minutes, than in a month’s worth of everyday interactions.  

What was going on, how they felt about it, what should they do: questions they sincerely wanted mom or dad’s advice and opinion on.  It was the opening for real conversation that every teenage parent hopes for. 

Could the same principle hold true when it came to conversations with my wife?  

Without making any direct efforts to apply it, I discovered this to be absolutely true. Evenings spent walking our dog around the neighborhood, have turned into significantly important connection time.  

Over the course of our well-worn route, amazing conversations take place.  All the stuff married couples MUST talk about: kids, jobs, plans, money, and schedules.

We’ve found that we are able to talk and connect at a deep and focused level.  For me, it’s being able to really listen without any household, device or family distraction.  

Just my wife’s words, her tone, her inflection without the eye-to-eye contact.  It enables me to talk, and my wife to listen and respond openly and honestly.

It’s my experience, being “shoulder to shoulder” creates a very safe environment to converse with a loved one.  

In our marriage, intimacy and trust already exist, so gazing forward together has empowered us to be vulnerable, while avoiding the eye contact that might make us feel hesitant to share what’s really on our mind. Eye contact that has, at times, been unintentionally passed and received as judgmental.  

Certainly, I am not saying we don’t or shouldn’t look each other in the eye- that’s critically important.  What I am saying is that walking with your spouse, maybe hand-in-hand, allows a level of authenticity that we might be uncomfortable with when we are face-to-face.

Sometimes the walks are impromptu or one of us will say, “Let’s walk the dog tonight.” Planned or unplanned they have become an amazing way for our family to connect in the deepest and most meaningful way.

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