It's been said that the first five minutes, after you walk in the door, set the tone for the rest of the evening. That's all it takes — five minutes. Your use of those five minutes could chart dramatically different paths for how your evening will play out. So, choose, and chart, wisely!
You've experienced it before. It's been a long, stressful day at work and you finally walk in the front door. You're hungry, tired and…easily agitated. It wouldn't take much to set you off. There are two very different paths the rest of your evening could follow — and it largely depends on what you do in the next five minutes.
The unintentional approach
One dangerous path you could potentially fall prey to is an unintentional approach where you act without thinking. The danger in this, is that when we are unintentional in our actions, we often experience unintended consequences — many of which are not good.
We'll use the working-husband/stay-at-home mom, example. You (as the working husband) walk in the front door and see nothing but a massive pile of dishes in the sink, a room which is a complete mess, and (it seems from your perspective) a house in chaos. Your reaction? Start barking out commands in an effort to restore order. You sarcastically say to your spouse, "Looks like you've accomplished a lot today!" in an effort to make a point. Unsurprisingly, your spouse doesn't respond very well to that, and thus begins a very long and contentious evening — which can sometimes be hard to recover from. It only took five minutes (or less), but you'll be paying for the consequences much longer.
Of course, when you walked in the door you weren't intending to offend the love of your life. You weren't intending to spend a miserable evening glaring at each other and saying very little. But, your unintentional response led to unintended consequences.
The intentional approach
There is another path you could follow — the intentional path. This path means your actions are thought out, planned out and executed. You know what your goal is and you accomplish it — because you made plans and carried them out.
For example, it's been a long day at work and you've been looking forward to a warm embrace and a relaxing evening with your spouse. You walk in the door and see the same pile of dishes, the same complete mess and the same apparent chaos. But, you don't mindlessly react — you thoughtfully respond. You grab your spouse, pull them close, give them a giant squeeze and say, "Looks like your day has been as crazy as mine!" Then, you hold them tight and give them a big kiss.
You just set the tone for a fabulous evening together — the evening you were intending to enjoy. It only took five minutes (or less), but you'll be ENJOYING the rewards much longer!
The routines and rituals surrounding comings and goings are extremely important because they set the tone, establish a foundation, and create an environment for the kind of life you want.
Just as the first five minutes when you walk in the door largely determine the rest of your evening, day after day of five-minute choices will certainly contribute to the kind of marriage you and your spouse dream of.
So, choose wisely. Decide now to take the intentional approach and you'll be reaping the benefits for years to come!
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.