Settling into our new house has been so hectic, but the one constant that I look forward to every night is snuggling up with Jay in bed and watching Stranger Things together. We love our nightly ritual of having dinner together and shutting off for at least an hour to purposefully watch a high quality TV show or read a book together. That daily intimacy is a time for us to come together and be present with each other, and it is one of our cornerstones to a thriving long term relationship and marriage.
I never want to put our relationship on a pedestal, because we are nowhere near perfect and have our fair share of petty fights and dramatic moments. But we have developed important rituals that I wish sooooo many unhappy married people could implement in their relationships too!
Many of you have been asking me how I make things work with Jay when I always have to be “On” for my Instagram stories, content creation, and creativity??
I loved this question because we have all been in situations where we are with people we love but that damn iphone is secretly calling us to pick it up!! I have certainly had my fair share of struggles and mental health breakdowns when it came to my relationship with social media and my phone. Whether you are a creative, entrepreneur, or just someone with Instagram at the touch of your fingers, our relationships and overall happiness would be SO improved if we could put down those devices and start actually being present IRL with each other!
Let me go back a bit in case you are unfamiliar with our story. We met through friends at a karaoke party in Palo Alto in 2012. Jay thought I was an engineer at Facebook, and marched right up to me in the crowded Karaoke bar, shook my hand with a wide grin on his face, and said, “You must work at Facebook!” If you know me by now, you know that my personality and skills are about as far away from Facebook engineering as possible, but I was SO flattered that this clearly brilliant Facebook engineer with a sparkle in his big eyes would think I also worked at Facebook.
We quickly discovered that although we were indeed complete opposites, we had many common interests like hiking in Half Moon Bay, witty banter over split pea and ham soup, deep philosophical musings, and our love of 90s hip hop. Although we both dated other people, we became fast friends. Our friendship continued for the next two years (yes, two whole years.) Once we were both single, Jay asked me one day to dinner and said he had something to discuss. My spidey senses started tingling! I knew something was up, and had known deep down we had a chemistry that would be explosive one we overcame our doubts and shyness with each other.
Luckily, Jay’s assertive ENTJ nature took charge over a delicious Burmese dinner, and he straightforwardly told me he was going to date me, and then proceeded to plant a huge awkward kiss on my lips. And we have been attached at the hip (and not bored of each other at all) since, and will be officially getting married in Maui later this year. One of the things I love most about our relationship is this: we have both grown into the people we are today, but most importantly we have grown together.
Living in the Bay Area it deeply saddens me that so many people of my generation are afraid of this kind of commitment. There is so much fear that passion and excitement and freedom die when you decide to commit to one person.
But trust me!
If you implement daily quality time where you are present with that one special person, you can grow together in greater passion, interest, intrigue, excitement than you ever imagined along with the importance of stability!
I admit that I have had to work on these quality time rules. When I first started experimenting with content creation and Instagram I could not go on a vacation without taking photos, videos and being on wifi. Jay really helped me by pointing out how disrespectful this behavior was, and how he consciously put his important VC work away when we were together, so I should do the same for him. After testing different strategies, this is what works for us, and I hope will help you too:
Waking and Sleeping Together
Unless on a business trip, we always make a quality time ritual of waking up together and going to bed together (without cell phones present). We take turns in the morning of who makes coffee, and enjoy doing five minute meditations in bed while the coffee is brewing. Then we talk about our plans for the day, hug (sometimes more), and sometimes do an at home workout together before heading off in seperate directions. Even if it is only five minutes, this morning quality time truly sets the tone for a great day. At night we really get into our weird philosophical discussions, and I love going to sleep holding Jay’s hand and hearing him tell me a story about how Quasars and black holes work. Again this is a time where all cell phones are put away and we are truly present.
Eating Dinner Together
At mealtimes, especially as a couple without kids yet, it is very tempting to find yourself plopped down on the couch watching the latest Netflix series, or browsing social media while sitting at the dining table. In the evening I love being creative in the kitchen, and if I have time I’ll surprise Jay with one of his favorite dinners (spicy Indian chicken and sweet potatoes is my go to) and we will literally go on a “fancy” dinner date in our house. We had to make it a rule that no cell phones were allowed during any meals at our house. We have to put them away and talk to each other. This is our time to intentionally disconnect with the outside world, giving the opportunity to truly connect with each other’s inner worlds.
Weekends and Vacations are for quality time
Both Jay and I try our best to get as much work accomplished before the weekend or a vacation so we can truly be together. Sometimes I just cannot keep up with content, so I have chosen to let go of the pressure to post on Instagram constantly. That being said, I do batch content, which means I plan my strategy for the month ahead with overall themes, spend one day during the week shooting multiple photoshoots, and one designated day for writing blog posts/IG captions. I ADORE the app Plann – which is my little assistant in batching my content effectively. This is my favorite app and allows me to plan my posts one or two weeks in advance and takes the stress off of creating new content daily.
Jay often does had emergency calls or meetings he has to take. Recently we were in Maui and he had to be on a 4 hour call right after we landed. He communicated this to me wayyyy in advance and drove me to my favorite beach where he took the call while I swam in the ocean and then got us snacks. Even though he was on a call, I had a blast on my swimming and was happy to support him because he communicated and was so thoughtful to me. If you do have a work emergency while on a planned quality time, make sure you nicely communicate and make it up to your partner later on!