Setting The Tone For A Peaceful Evening

 

There are a few specific times of the day that seem to hold special importance with respect to establishing a positive mood in the home. Our words and actions during these times have significant ramifications. Indeed, how we handle these times can go a long way to either making or breaking our marriage and family environment at any given time. One such time of day is the early evening when families are reuniting after work, school, or other activities.

After working all day people are often fatigued – either mentally, physically, or both. Many activities performed throughout the day can generate a lot of tension or stress. Generally, people need at least some time to relax and unwind a bit so they can transition out of “work-mode”. Therefore, couples (and other family members) should allow one another adequate time for this needful adjustment phase in their day.

It can be overwhelming to a person when they reunite after a long day only to discover a spouse who is waiting to unload on them. This is true regardless of the intent of one’s spouse. For example, one may be excited to share something positive that occurred during the day and be waiting with great anticipation for their spouse to return home so they can tell him/her all about it. The problem is that the spouse returning home may not be in the best frame of mind to actively listen to or appreciate the story. Not only can this overwhelm the returning spouse, but it is also a setup for disappointment for the partner who wants to share their excitement.

Certainly the moments after arriving home from work are an excellent time to demonstrate your joy and enthusiasm about being reunited after spending the day apart. But the zeal must not be so great as to overwhelm or suffocate one another. Simple words of appreciation, encouragement, or affirmation and a sincere embrace can work wonders. But long monologues or expectations for meaningful discussions immediately are not appropriate for this time. There will be time to share after a while.

This may or may not be a good time to relax together. Each couple needs to negotiate what works best for them. Some may appreciate togetherness at this time. Others may need a few moments of “alone” time to gather themselves. There is no right or wrong way to do this. The important thing is to be considerate of and accommodating to one another’s needs.

In any case, it is a critical mistake to bring up problems or negative situations when one or both spouses return home from work. This is the last thing anyone wants to encounter after arriving home after a long day. Unless something is an emergency, it’s best to wait to address such matters. Not only is it inconsiderate to bring up problems when one’s partner is stressed or fatigued – it’s also not a conducive time to do so if you expect to find constructive resolution. In other words, it’s not only rude, it’s impractical.

Here’s some DOs and DON’Ts to consider:

DO express that it feels great to reunite and be together

DON’T smother one another or expect meaningful conversation right away

 

DO mention that you have exciting news to share later in the evening

DON’T immediately overwhelm each other with long stories or tedious details

 

DO take some time to relax and unwind

DON’T jump right into domestic chores/tasks or expect your partner to do the same

 

DO allow time and space for each other to transition their mind-set from work to home

DON’T bring up problems or negative information unless it’s time critical

 

DO relax together for a while, if that’s what you both like

DON’T expect your mate to have the same preference you do – allow them some alone time to unwind if they need it

 

Kirk VanOoteghem serves as Executive Pastor of River of Life in Muncie, Indiana.  He has many years of experience as a marriage counselor and educator and is the founder of MarriageMoment.org – an online ministry dedicated to protecting and strengthening marriages.

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