A 30-Minute Meeting Might Have Saved My Marriage

My wife, Katie, and I are approaching 10 years since “I Do.”

On the whole it has been an amazing journey together. However, the past few years building a business while also raising two young kids has taken it’s toll.

What once felt like two best friends exploring life together became quite tactical.

“Who’s picking the kids up after work?”

“What’s for dinner tonight?”

“Who’s doing bath time”

Not to mention the endless amounts of laundry.

The Night Time is Not the Right Time

Having a young family also shifted the majority of our time together to after the kids are tucked in bed. By then we’re tired. Looking for a tried and true recipe for poor communication? Have hard conversations when you’re tired.

Fights about everything and nothing became too normal.

Slowly we drifted apart.

It’s surprising how easy two people in love degrades into two people just trying to run a household.

Things weren’t exactly bad, but they weren’t getting better. A part of me knew that if we didn’t approach our marriage with more intention then we were headed for failure.

The Experiment That Created the Shift

One night, frustrated by how low quality our time together had become, I had an idea.

For a year I had struggled to make a habit of a consistent morning routine. I knew the stories of top performers pointing to their mornings as the key to winning the day. But getting my butt out of bed before the kids took over the house just wasn’t easy for me.

But, Katie — a professional nurse with early shifts — has never struggled to wake up early.

Connecting the dots, I suggested that we run an experiment. For one week we’d wake early and do a morning routine together. She said “yes” and since then everything has changed.

Starting Every Morning Together

We committed to trying out for 30 minutes every day. A daily meeting of sorts. Inspired by Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning, we broke the time into six 5-minute sections.

1. Meditation — We begin with a short meditation using either the 10% Happier or Calm apps. I thought that starting the day in silence might be tricky, but it’s proven to be a peaceful way of awakening.

2. Affirmations — We take turns affirming things in ourselves, each other, and our family. Anything goes and we share whatever is inspiring. This has been the biggest win for us. Affirmations create an entirely new way of communicating our deepest aspirations and longings. I learn something new daily about Katie as she navigates what it means to be a professional, a wife, a mother, a human.

3. Visualization — We then move into visualizing the future that we’re creating. We imagine and set intentions for our work, our home life, our marriage, and the community that we’re building.

4. Yoga — Katie then leads us through a handful of yoga movements that get our blood pumping and stretch out. There’s no tiredness left by this point. We’re awake and ready for the day.

5. Positive Reading — Then we do a short burst of reading to bring in new ideas and insights to our life. I’ve found books with short chapter structures most helpful in providing a quick challenge to reflect on for the day. The Obstacle is the Way and The Way of the Superior Man have been my favorites.

6. Journalling — We conclude with a daily habit of capturing insights from our reading, gratitude, and our intentions for the day.

That’s the routine. Every morning.

We’re usually up around 5:30 and wrapping up by 6:00.

Occasionally, one of the kids wanders sleepy-eyed into the room before we’re done. When they do, we just keep going. They get to join in.

One morning our 2-year-old son was up attempting to do yoga with us. His fumbling trying to figure out how his body can move was a bit more comedy than workout. Another morning our 4-year-old daughter arrived during visualization. Rather than proceeding in silence, we shared our hopes out loud. She heard her mom and dad articulate our deepest desires and also contributed her wish to “ride a horsey” sometime soon.

Did a Morning Routine Really Save My Marriage?

I can’t say with absolute certainty.

I do know that our relationship feels intentional for the first time in a long time.

We interact differently, not only in the morning, but throughout our day. There’s more patience. More understanding. More smiles.

It used to feel like we gave each other the remnants of our energy each day. Now, I get to experience Katie at her best each morning. I see her more fully and more clearly than I have in a long while — her vulnerability, her ambition, her humanness. I am reminded of how aligned our values are and notice how obscured they can get in the hustle of it all. I enjoy looking in her eyes more than I have in a long time. The impact of starting the day together has certainly rippled through our lives.

And perhaps best of all, sometimes when the kids sleep in, we’ll sit and talk over our morning coffee. Just a little bit of extra time to remember why we said yes to each other almost a decade ago.

Todd Emaus