Sandberg: Make some space for Deck Time
By Amy Sandberg
Not to jinx it, but I have a great relationship with my partner. Almost five years strong, it keeps getting stronger. So much so we’re both in a daily state of awe, gratitude and wonderment. I try to make sense of why it works so well, and am even asked by friends what our secret is. Since I can’t think of a way to monetize the secret, I’ve decided to make public, for free, a big part of our secret. It’s what we call “Deck Time.”
Deck Time came into being at our first house we shared. The deck overlooked the Pacific Ocean. We spent many of our waking hours on this deck appreciating the view and talking about whatever percolated to the surface. Soon we began to schedule Deck Time into our busy lives. When we’d had a long day or were faced with a tough decision one of us would say “let’s take some deck time and talk about it.” Deck Time became a metaphor for checking in with each other and sharpening the saw of our relationship.
I haven’t done a scientific study, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that not enough couples make space in their lives for Deck Time. We frequently walk the beach at sunset and are always amazed by how few people are outside enjoying the sunset from their oceanfront balconies and/or decks. The only thing to explain this is that it’s like when I lived in New York City and never once visited the Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty. I figured there would always be time for that.
But time has a pesky habit of slipping through our fingers like a handful of sand off the beaches we take for granted. The problem with an “it can wait” attitude is that sometimes it can’t. How many times have you heard about the person who postponed their bucket list items until they retired, only to die suddenly or were stricken with illness? In the movie, “The Descendants,” a couple’s marriage is on the rocks because it had been untended for too long. The wife is in a boating accident and after a long coma, eventually dies. The husband is left to deal with the what ifs. What if he hadn’t been a workaholic? What if he’d told her how much he appreciated what a great mother she was? And so on.
The value of Deck Time — which could be sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace, going for a walk, etc. — is that carving out time in your life to tend to important people and/or issues will feed your relationships and lessen your stress. Not carving out the time translates into sweeping the issues or relationships under the rug in hopes that whatever needs to get tended to will disappear on its own or will still be fixable when you eventually (if ever) find the time to address it.
We also do a lot of “blue sky thinking” on the deck. Blue sky thinking is the practice of developing creative ideas that are not limited by current thinking or beliefs. For instance, last night we discussed a vision for our wedding day which is coming up soon. In the past we’ve discussed ideas for new phone apps we’d like to develop together, or how we’d like to structure our time after both the kids are on their own — assuming that ever happens! There’s something about just staring off in the distance that inspires one to think about limitless possibilities. I feel emboldened — almost anonymous — to have a vista to focus, especially when discussing difficult issues. The silences are less awkward, and I choose my words carefully when there’s a line on the horizon connecting us to one another in addition to the direct eye-to-eye line connecting our deepest selves.
The next time you’re having trouble getting through a difficult spot in life or your relationship, or you just want to feed your relationship and share your thoughts and your day, don’t kid yourself into thinking you don’t have time to stop and sharpen your saw because you’re too busy sawing. Rather, suggest some Deck Time. If not now, when? If not you, who?
Reach Sandberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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