The gift of time – we call it a Joan Day. What’s a “Joan Day”? It’s a day where the less driven spouse has control of the agenda, and it’s also a way to practice all five of the love languages: quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, physical touch and acts of service.
I’m guessing you might be the same as Rob and me. One of you in the marriage is a little (or a lot) more driven – one of you in the marriage is usually the creator of the AGENDA.
A friend once told Robert that he had a great big “A” on his chest, signifying his hidden designation as “Agenda Man”. We laughed, but his super-power designation has stuck. Even our kids refer to him as Agenda Man…
Every now and again, Rob and I enjoy a “Joan Day” – and giving up his agenda is one way Rob shows his love – it’s an act of service for me.
Why Do We Call It A “Joan Day”?
We’ve known Herb and Joan for a very long time, and they have been a positive influence on Robert and me from before we were married. In fact, Herb married us, and in the picture above, they were a part of our 25th wedding anniversary celebration. We communicate via the phone and email often – and they have told us they pray for us daily. We are so thankful for their example and contribution in our lives… Their adventurous spirit, and dedication to the gospel of Christ has been a signpost for us innumerable times.
I’d love to tell you all about this couple – because their story is rich and strong, but for this post, all you need to know is that Herb loves, loves, loves, to be with people – to talk and and interact and teach and learn. And Joan? Not as much. Throughout their life, Herb’s missionary drive has filled their life with experiences. Joan has supported him steadfastly in all things, including living in Asia for almost a decade.
Because we’ve had a small window into Joan and Herb’s lives over the years, a long time ago they shared a practice we have also incorporated – a Joan Day. From what we understood, (and remember from the story so long ago), it was a day where Joan’s desires were met, and Herb facilitated – setting aside his agenda.
New Experiences – No Agenda – A Gift of Time
Everyone will have their own kind of Joan Day.
My kind of Joan Day holds a combination of no agenda – nothing accomplished – and new experiences. On the last Saturday in January, Rob and I had a Joan Day.,
A smooth, open road, under a blue sky, with inspiring music and each other was the first part of my Joan Day… Starting with the Love Language of Quality Time!
Wilmington, North Carolina, is a coastal Atlantic port city, with many cultural delights, and the beach has miles and miles of sand and shells.
We used our gift of time to drive a few hours…
from where our fifth-wheel was parked and went to the beach – Wrightsville Beach!
January at the Atlantic ocean is cool. We needed to wear our jackets, and although many walked by with bare feet, we kept our shoes on. I gather an inner peace and relaxation by watching, and hearing the sound of the waves. We sat close together – and held hands – that’s the Love Language of Physical Touch!
We enjoy reading, so taking our Kindles with us was a given, for this gift of time away from daily cares… (see the bottom of this post for a book recommendation and an offer!)
We watched couples interacting on the beach – enjoying their gift of time.
It was a lovely afternoon.
New Experiences in our Gift of Time
You know, it’s the small things in life which make the gift of time on a Joan Day really special. I tried two new things, and enjoyed an old favorite.
First – we ate at a food truck!
And Second – I tried some craft beer. Third, we listened to live music!
You might not find these items special, but I’ve always wanted to try food from a food truck… and though Rob and I rarely drink alcohol, I’ve seen these trays of little glasses to sample different styles of beer on social media, and they caught my imagination. (They’re called a Beer Flight).
The Flytrap was full of people of all ages – enjoying their beverages, food and music.
If you want to see more of our adventures – take a look at our Instagram account!
All of the Love Languages in a Joan Day
Do you see how our “Joan Day” encompassed all of the love languages? We had the time to:
exchange words of affirmation as we drove – listening to all kinds of music and talking about our life and plans for the future.
the whole day was a gift of time – quality time!
we touched often during the day. 😉 I felt very friendly toward Rob. 😉 That’s physical touch!
the entire day was an act of service – Rob taking me everywhere my heart desired.
and the gifts I received? (remember – gifts don’t need to cost anything!)
We recommend the The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman to every couple. It’s easy to understand, easy to put into practice (even if you’re not “feeling” the love in your marriage right now) and a tool that you can pass on to your kids, your friends, and everyone you meet. Please! If you haven’t read this book, try it. And if it’s been a while since you’ve read it… review! If you’ve read this far in this post – thank you! I’d like to offer you a chance to win a digital copy of this book… Leave a comment below about what you believe your spouse’s love language is, and I’ll choose one winner from the comments – I’ll close the comments off in one week – February 10, 2016. so the winner can read it before Valentine’s Day. This offer is for a digital Kindle (.mobi) copy of the book, which you can read using an app on your smart phone, tablet or computer, even if you don’t own a Kindle. Go ahead… leave a comment even if you already own the book – if you win you can always gift it to another couple!
What do you think your spouse would enjoy on their “Joan Day”?
How could you incorporate your spouse’s love language?
Check in with your spouse – especially if you’re going to pray for her – for him. It’s a good idea. And we have a suggestion for you, even if your spouse isn’t very chatty about how they’re feeling, or what they’re concerned over. Why check in? We know you want to pray for your spouse.
For a while (and still every now and again) I’ve worked through a list from Stormie Omartian’s book, “The Power of a Praying Wife“. It’s a powerful book. (pun intended). Areas she’s written about to focus on are his job, his health, his relationship with God, his thoughts, etc. They’re all are covered in the pages of this book. (There’a companion book for husbands also.)
But what about specific areas? How can I know what to pray for in specific, targeted things Robert is worried/concerned about? And how does he pray for me?
Well… we do a check in with each other.
How to Check In With Each Other
Here’s one practical way Robert and I use to check in on each other:
Physical – Mental – Emotional – Spiritual
After we check in with each other, on our best days, we are GREEN across the board, under all four areas: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. (I don’t know where we got the idea of these four areas, and checking in on them, but it’s been working for us for years.)
If Robert seems weighed down or not at his best, I ask him how he’s doing, and he responds with each area and a color. If we didn’t use this idea, I could guess… and maybe I’d be right. Maybe sometimes. Or maybe not much.
I might guess that he’s disturbed by a challenge in his work. Instead, he has a bad headache. He’s a YELLOW physically.
I might guess that he’s just tired. Instead, he’s mentally torn as he struggles to resolve a particular challenge on an important project. He’s a YELLOW mentally.
I might guess he’s pondering over the book he’s currently reading. Instead, he’s anguishing over a serious financial issue. He’s a RED emotionally.
I might guess that he’s just angry at the other drivers on the road. Instead, he’s feeling very weighed down in spirit because he’s seeking an answer from God and not yet received a response. He’s a RED spiritually.
Don’t guess. Guessing why your spouse is acting a certain way rarely works. Check in with each other.
So many misunderstandings could be avoided…however, some spouse’s don’t share – or can’t share – exactly what they’re feeling. That’s why using this list of four areas – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – along with a color to describe how they’re feeling is a good way to begin.
And then you know exactly how to encourage your spouse!
If your spouse is hurting physically, you can provide care, even if it’s only an ice pack and a kiss. And pray.
If your spouse is caught up in their head, you can be a sounding board and listening ear. And pray.
If your spouse is feeling pressed on every side emotionally, you can cry with them and remind them how much you and God loves them. And pray.
If your spouse is being attacked spiritually, you can speak God’s Truth to them. And really pray.
When you know what’s not GREEN then you will know how to encourage.
And in everything, you can surround her/him in prayer!
Sometimes you must respond to the urgent – a baby crying, a pot boiling over, the engine light blazing red in your car, or your spouse tersely growling that they need a break. Urgent is a part of real life. However, urgent shouldn’t play the biggest part of real life!
First – I want to say, that only you and your spouse can define what’s truly important. And that’s your job as parents. Just like deciding which values your family is living.
Sometimes it takes a bit of discussion for the two of you to agree. However, I believe time spent discussing the topic of “What’s important?”… is important! (Especially before the urgent stuff shows up – as it definitely will. 😉 )
How do you avoid living inside an “urgent, drama-infused space”?
What is important in a family, and in your life as husband and wife, is going to be different than what happens at work. At work, you usually have those who tell you what needs to be done- and you’ll follow those suggestions or be without your job.
Too often, we go through life just accomplishing the urgent tasks and never getting to the important, but not urgent stuff. Always living in the urgent quadrant translates to feeling like you’re leading a meaning-less life. Stuff gets done, but there’s no lasting impact. There’s no hope for a meaning filled future…
One thing that intrigued me about the $2.99 Eisenhower App was their option to use a focus timer for 30 minutes.
Focus is so important.
Yeah. That’s what started this whole blog post. The idea of focusing on what is important.
I can get caught up in all the non-urgent, not important stuff like Facebook, and reading other people’s blog posts, or picking up a book, or just hanging out on Twitter. What’s the trouble with all this activity? Not much gets accomplished. I have little to show for my hours on the computer… Perhaps you might relate?
I’m determined to improve my ability to focus on what’s important. To this end, I’ll be using the free version of the Eisenhower App (and see how it goes before I purchase the App).
Also I’ve been using an online music/sound website called Focus@Will – they have a free 15 day trial!
I like the Ambient options of music – Water sounds – and Cafe Noise. FocusatWill.com’s idea is that if you listen to the right music/sounds, you can improve your productivity.
If you’re interested, they even explain the science behind their concept on their website. (I’m just having fun using a different sound/music for each half hour – right now I’m listening to Kora Beta on Medium Energy level.) You can adjust their 22 sound/music options to a high, medium or low energy level. It’s interesting… Check it out!
This post contains affiliate links.
How do you encourage each other to be productive in the important tasks?
Are there ways you and your spouse use that make it easier to focus on what’s important?
Sometimes you give a hearty cheer at the thought that this day will never come again – and other times it’s with a bit of heart-wrench that you view …
the first day of organized education – and then graduation into the school of real-life
the moment you first meet your spouse – and the last time you hold their hand (in this life).
the birth of your baby – and releasing that grown baby to adulthood and all life holds
the building of a new home – and selling that house to move forward into your next home
starting a journey – and finishing
These past days have given Rob and me time to ponder beginnings and endings, and days that will never come again. You see, we’ve been holding a newborn boy – and marveling at the miracle of change.
(Our grandboy is only 6 hours old in these pictures. I sat, quietly cradling him in my arms, as mom and dad took a nap. It seemed like only moments had passed since I held that newborn’s dad in my arms. Yes. Changes. Sweet, with a side of surreal.)
Change in your marriage after a new baby?
Now there’s a line in the sands of time: Before Baby vs After Baby
We’re watching our son and daughter-in-love navigate this new time in their marriage. (Don’t worry – I told them I’d be writing about this.) They’ve been married for five years, so this new phase of family growth is expected.
Most of you reading this post have already experienced this new change in your marriage. I’m sure I’m not surprising you when I state:
A new baby is a LOT of work! Sleepless work.
It was like that when our kids came into our lives, also. All things for a time. It passes, doesn’t it?
Eventually you get a bit more sleep, and you adjust to the number of diapers needed, the loads of laundry, the bottles drying on the counter, and all the baby items strewn about the house. You grow into being the parents your new little baby needs… but what about your marriage?
What needs to grow in your marriage – after baby arrives?
Patience. Your patience with each other needs to grow.
and Grace. Give each other do-overs, try-agains, next-times, and start-a-news.
After baby arrives, it’s also important to remember you’re more than parents… you’re still spouses!
Lots of things remain the same after a change in your marriage like a baby arriving, but other areas of your relationship need some extra tender, and loving care to grow…
I’m talking about sex. Being intimate. After a baby is born.
And it starts on Day 1 when the hospital, for some inexplicable reason, sends you home with a small human being and no instruction manual. Here you are, wiped out from childbirth, with nothing more than high hopes, a collection of baby supplies, and tidbits of advice from here and there, and you are handed a living, breathing infant.
Consequently, in the first few days, most wives are not thinking, “Oh no, why can’t I have sex?” They are thinking, “Why can’t I have sleep?!” They are wondering how they can afford food now that half their budget goes toward diapers. They are eyeballing the section of their belly that used to be a taut baby bump and now looks like a satchel of blubber. They are considering how scared they are to let out that first bowel movement. (Am I telling the truth, moms?)
Even the husbands may be wondering when the little guy will stop crying or how much pee and poop an eight-pound baby can manufacture! Daddy may feel a bit overwhelmed too…
I must confess. I asked my online marriage-blogger friends for resources about how to navigate sex in marriage after baby comes. Rob and I don’t usually write about sex in marriage, but our other friends do – so why not recommend ideas from the experts, huh? 😉
Resources – Sex after Baby
Here are a few posts and resources – be prepared to both laugh & be educated… I wish I’d had these wise words in the year after we had our first child!
-> When My Sex Life Sucked – Part 1 and Part 2 – “When I was carrying babies, bearing babies, nursing babies, and caring for babies — better known as the alien invasion years — my body did not feel like my own. It was me, of course; however, my body had been irrevocably changed.”
-> Baby’s Here. But Sex? Not So Much. – “When there’s so much else going on, we have to make a conscious decision to focus on sex with our husband. If you make it a priority in your mind, over time you’ll likely find your emotions following. You will reawaken love for him and your sexual intimacy.”
-> 3 Ways for Moms of Littles to Feel More Sensual – “Toddler laughter can create world peace, and their stubbornness can suck the life out of the most nurturing mama. You are exhausted on all levels …If in the midst of all this, pondering sexual thoughts about the father of said innocents is as likely to occur as your creating an equation to refute E=MC2, then read on.”
Even if you’re well past the child-bearing years, I recommend you read these articles – with your spouse. Talk about that time in your life where sex wasn’t happening (all that much) during a change in your marriage. Maybe it’s happening right now?
Fun on wheels can take you and your spouse on many adventures. Get carried away together!
Staying connected while exploring and having fun is such an encouragement – both while you’re experiencing your fun, and afterward when you look at photos and reminisce.
Have you explored having fun together on wheels?
Fun on Wheels
The Obvious – A Road Trip
Maybe you’ve traveled a bit with your vehicle over the Christmas holidays. What have you seen – where have you gone? Was it just you and and your spouse?
It’s a new year – so start those afternoon excursions together. Find new spots to kiss!
Robert and I have embraced fun on wheels, as a full-time adventure since May 2014. We are traveling with our F150 truck and little-house-on-wheels. Yes. We live – full-time – in 282 square feet. On wheels . We’ve enjoyed some pretty special spots on the North American continent on our road trips!
Fun on wheels near Ottawa, Ontario Canada
Have you ever holidayed in a recreational vehicle?
What about a trailer, a fifth wheel, or a motor-coach? The nicest part of this kind of road trip is that you take your own bed, and bedding, everywhere you go. And your bathroom is there also, so everywhere you “go” is your own facility! 😉
On our road trip we toured the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhardt, Indiana – did you know know that the RV has been around for more than 100 years, pretty much since the beginning of the automobile?
What about other opportunities – what other fun-on-wheels can you have?
Biking with and without a motor!
What about biking? Do you and your spouse ever bike on a path, or even around your neighborhood? That’s fun on wheels! It doesn’t need to be a strenuous experience (or it could be!), and it needn’t be a whole day – just fifteen minutes. Borrow some bikes, if you don’t own any!
What about a motorized fun on wheels? Have you ever tried a motorcycle? Or a 3-wheeler?
When we lived in Texas, we visited a cool couple – they were the first couple we’d ever known who had motorcycles in their garage – and rode them regularly. It’s gone down on Robert and my “bucket list” to try. What about you? Do you ride?
Last winter, while in a RV spot near Fort Myers, Florida, our neighbors were one of the many couples who took their daily road trips on motorized bikes – and 3-wheelers, as a group. It looked like so much fun!
Horse Drawn Fun on Wheels
Charleston, South Carolina is a great city to tour via a horse-drawn carriage. Does a city near you have the option for an afternoon tour via a carriage?
Take the Trolley!
Here’s an idea for more fun on wheels as a husband and wife! Try a trolley! Or take along your whole family for even more memories.
A few years ago, our son made the video below. He recruited his whole family – wife, sister, dad and mom, and extended church family – for a ride on a trolley.
Imagine the memories you can make – for a bit of an investment – and all the fun you can have on a few wheels!
And it’s not just for newlyweds… kiss your wife or husband on a trolley!