Recently we sat on the floor in a crowded airline terminal and played a game of Scrabble on our trusty iPad. We had about thirty minutes to kill before we could board our flight and a quick game would do the trick.
We’ve had a longstanding competition in our marriage with this game. We play to win. And on this occasion the game was especially tight. The score was teetering back and forth with nearly every move. Triple word scores hung in the balance.
It was anyone’s game.
It was also time to board our flight and we barely heard the announcement from the agent. We’d lost track of where we were and how much time had passed. We had to scramble to gather our belongings and get on the plane.
Researchers sometimes call it “flow” and it has to do with a state of being so wrapped up in an activity that we lose ourselves in it.
If you were to ask us how we felt in the midst of our Scrabble competition we would have likely said, “nothing.” We were just passing time.
But it was the engagement of our minds and our beings in the process that brought about a sense of satisfaction that heightens happiness. And researchers are finding that a sense of engagement together as a couple is essential to a healthy marriage.
Of course, engagement doesn’t require competition. Engagement can ensue while tending a garden, talking together about your goals and dreams on a road trip, playing or listening to music, working on a home improvement project, or preparing for an important milestone.
Anything that includes the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity is engagement. So as you begin a new year together in your marriage, how will you cultivate more engagement in your relationship?