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Tea(m) Time: Help for Busy Relationships

“Never get too busy making a living you forget to nurture a beautiful relationship.” – Anonymous

We’ve been quite busy lately and as a result, we found ourselves spending most of our time together working or talking about our work. If we weren’t doing that, we were doing chores, watching Game of Thrones, or having fun with friends. While these have been necessary, productive and fun times, they were not optimal from a Relationship Zen, or healthy relationship, standpoint… especially in the long run.

We knew that we couldn’t continue sustaining our relationship if we didn’t build in some more intentional quality time together. For us, quality relationships exist when both partners elevate each other on multiple levels. Since we seemed to be “too busy” lately, we recognized the need to build in some quality time that would be sustainable, easy to do, and quick.

As a result, we introduced tea(m) time: like a checkpoint, or check-up, or a “tune up” that Formula One race cars receive throughout a race. The purpose of this get-together is to carve out one or two hours a month or bi-weekly to intentionally discuss your relationship with your partner – as a team.

Why “Tea(m) Time”?

Instead of getting together to talk about your relationship when something is broken, be proactive and discuss it periodically. Tea(m) time is a proactive way of getting on the same page, setting common intentions, and having fun while doing it. Without intentional quality time, a team is but a group of people.

Why “tea”? In Chinese and Japanese traditions, the act of having certain kinds of tea is not only good for your physical health, but it is a mindful act. Yes, tea(m) time is about sharing ideas, but the act of drinking tea reminds us to be fully present, to allow for silence, and to simply exist.

Preparation for Tea(m) Time

  • Select a mutually desirable location for tea and conversations that is outside your daily routine (tea shop, backyard, park, bookstore, etc.). We chose a bubble tea joint.
  • Book an hour or two in your agendas for tea(m) time. The books, work, chores, and friends can wait.
  • Bring some notebooks, markers, and/or other design material that you’d like to use.

Structure of Tea(m) Time

  • Remove any distractions and intend to focus fully on each other.
  • Start off casually by reconnecting with each other through regular conversation: highlights about your week, successes, challenges, recurring thoughts and themes, etc.
  • Take turns sharing what you’re enjoying  and what’s challenging about your relationship using a positive and constructive voice.
  • Brainstorm some strategies as a team to reinforce the positives and to acknowledge and improve the other areas.
    • Be creative or do what works for you! We did this by drawing and writing words that represent our relationship (positives and challenges) in a notebook.

The first two “agenda items” should provide the foundation for empathy and trust, two key ingredients for meaningful conversations and active listening. The last two items are structured to help couples assess their current situation, to reinforce the positive, and to be vulnerable and honest with each other about areas for potential improvements.

If empathy and trust guide the conversation, this will be a unifying and energizing conversation! Just as a team should, we learned more about ourselves and each other, we heard and shared things that had not come up in our day to day conversation, and we had fun while doing it. The process of tea(m) time is a lesson in itself. We call moments like these a #RZmoment!

Tweet about your #RZmoment. Let us know how it goes in the comment section or on our community Facebook group!

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves — slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.  – Thich Nat Hahn

About Relationship Zen (2 Articles)
Together, David and Lindsey are a dynamic duo with one goal in life: to become enlightened. Yes, enlightened – and we’re taking you and your partner along. David Ip Yam is a graduate student and student affairs practitioner, a leadership educator, and a martial arts instructor. He is secretly weird in a hilarious way. Lindsey Ostrosser is a recent university graduate who is also an emerging student affairs professional. She volunteers at a Yoga studio, loves to be creative in everything she does, and secretly loves singing Mariah Carey Songs way too loudly. @zenrelationships

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