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Great Marriages Require Unencumbered Time

Make no mistake about it – great marriages require unencumbered time!

You have read our musings about the fundamental predisposition of every human being to have time alone – to have time only to their private thoughts. In our book, Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage, we describe privacy and aloneness as one of the “seven secrets of successful marriage.”

In many ways, “unencumbered time” might, in fact, be the “eighth secret.” Everyone needs time alone – that’s an established fact. But just as importantly, everyone needs unencumbered time – time when nothing is planned, nothing is programmed, nothing is on your iCal calendar on your iPhone, and nothing is in the way of your completely spontaneous day!

Successfully married couples know this – there are days in their marriage and in their relationship when nothing should be planned, nothing should be scripted, and nothing should be in the way to a totally and completely unencumbered day.

We have interviewed couple after couple – thousands of them – on our journey around the world in search of the best marriages. Our travels have taken us to five continents, with the sixth coming this next year (we still haven’t figured out how to get to Antarctica to interview successfully married couples!).

On each continent, and with each successfully married couple we have interviewed, there are many truths we have learned, but first and foremost among them is this – unencumbered time is necessary to the health and well being of the best marriages.

Here’s how it works. The next time you and the one you love wake up in the morning, let it be your resolve for that day – plan nothing! Let your whim drive your day. When you get to the fork in the road, take it, as Yogi Berra used to say! Make choices for no particular reason.

To have a day without restrictions and without encumbrances is to have a day you will cherish. In our hectic, fast-paced lives, it is good to know that you can, in fact, slow down, smell the roses, and let your instincts guide your way.

So many marriages are predictable – everything is planned. But the truth is, that is not the way the best marriages go. The best marriages understand that there are days when you need time alone. The best marriages understand that there are days when you need to plan NOTHING!

Being spontaneous is the hallmark of the best marriages we have studied over the years. Placing trust in your collective ability to do what comes naturally and impulsively is, in fact, a wonderful indicator of the quality of your loving relationship. Trust yourself. Trust the one you love. Live dangerously!

Over the 43 years of our marriage, we have come to appreciate our unencumbered days. They have proven to be the best days of our lives together. Why don’t you try having an unencumbered day tomorrow!

Simple Things Matter in Love and Marriage! Love well!

By Dr. Charles D. Schmitz and Dr. Elizabeth A. Schmitz

Authors of Building a Love that Lasts: The Seven Surprising Secrets of Successful Marriage Winner of the INDIE Book Awards GOLD Medal for Best Relationship Book Winner of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Awards GOLD Medal for Most Outstanding Relationships and Marriage Book 2009 Nautilus Book Awards Winner for Relationships. Building A Love That Lasts is available wherever books are sold (published by Jossey-Bass/Wiley).

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