Recently, I was sitting at the airport in Chicago, waiting to get on a flight that was supposed to leave 24 hours prior.
My husband knows what is waiting for him in the next few weeks ...
Diane Sawyer will be speaking Spanish because the first thing my mom does when she arrives in Fargo is switch the language on our TV.
His morning paper will be found in my brother’s room before he even gets the chance to read it.
My sister, who believes she is the Martha Stewart of Brazil, will be reorganizing our kitchen. It will be no surprise when he finds the can opener in the cereal cabinet.
And with Brazil playing in the World Cup, let me put it this way – our quiet North Dakotan home will turn into a Latin soap opera cranked up to the last decibel.
But before the mad samba dance of Brazilian relatives ensues, we decided to make a getaway to enjoy each other and have the long overdue date nights we had lately postponed because of our busy schedules.
We had all our reservations set up and thought it would be a quick four hours to our destination. When we arrived at our connecting flight, what we saw as a quick trip became an 18-hour day in the terminal. I felt like the joy of our expected date night was on the standby list.
Many times, married couples like my husband and I forget to schedule quality time to truly enjoy each other. Finding time to date is much more than an act of luxury but a necessary tool to keep the health of a relationship.
Actually, studies by the United States National Marriage Project show couples who find one day a week to go out together have much less chance of winding up in the divorce courts than those who don’t – 15 percent compared with 25 percent.
Even though I felt disappointed in the airport because I was looking forward to the perfect time and place to enjoy my husband, as we waited, I had the opportunity to do one of my favorite traveling hobbies – I people-watched!
I saw a husband shaking his head at his wife, angry they wouldn’t arrive in the time they planned. I saw a sad woman arguing with her boyfriend.
I noted that even though they were traveling together, the stressful unexpected situation of life was pulling them apart. That’s when I turned to my husband and asked, “Why are we going on this trip?”
“We have been working so hard. We haven’t had a date night in so long,” he said.
“What are we waiting for? Let’s have one right now!” I responded.
So we decided to go to a little bar in the airport and celebrate National Martini Day. What could have been a stressful day became a time of connection, laughs and pure joy.
That day, I realized something.
We can choose to put our self-care and the care of our relationships on the standby list, always waiting for the perfect time and place to enjoy ourselves and each other.
Or, we can give ourselves an upgrade.
One of the best upgrades we can give ourselves is to take our joy from the standby list, so we don’t need to arrive at any destination to experience the joy we can feel in the journey.
I believe when we give ourselves the opportunity to experience joy where we are and who we are with, we experience a life of flying first class.
Cris Linnares is international author, psychotherapist and founder of Women’s Impact, formerly Diva Connection Foundation. Originally from Brazil, she lives in Fargo with her daughter and husband Bill Marcil Jr., publisher of the Forum. For more information on Linnares’ work, visit www.chrislinnares.com.