I met Heath three months after he had started his first business. I didn’t seek him out, but boy, when I found him, I wanted to keep him. I love his entrepreneurial spirit, that he has big ideas, and that he actually has the guts to go through with making a dream a reality. I love that he starts from nothing and turns it into something. When he sets his mind to something, anything that he truly believes in or wants, he goes for it. 100% goes all in. It’s fascinating to me.
Dating Heath while he was deep into starting his company was inspiring and exciting. He basically lived at his tiny office with three other co-founders. He was all in. We have never known life together without a new business being at the forefront. I knew what I was getting into and I welcomed it.
Then, something happened.
One day, a year into our marriage, Heath brought home a Blackberry. I clearly remember seeing him walk up the stairs into our condo holding this tiny little computer, with tiny little buttons to push, and a weird plastic pen attached. He was mesmerized. It sat on the countertop while we cooked dinner together. He checked it constantly. It came to the table while we ate, he checked repeatedly. It came to watch TiVo with us (remember TiVo?!) He couldn’t take his eyes off of it - like a moth to a flame. And ya’ll, I think that darn thing probably came to bed with us!
The Blackberry was just the beginning. Phones kept getting smarter, more accepted, more prominent, and even more admired. They are our constant companions and give us comfort knowing we have the world at our fingertips. Or, as Heath likes to say, “infinity in our pockets.” And for Heath, the smartphone was a Blackberry on steroids. Amazing captivating, distracting, and at times, all-consuming.
Then, something happened.
About 15 years into our marriage, I remember one particular date night. We were seated at our table, looking over the menu. I saw him flicking through his phone. It didn’t even really bother me (it’s sad, but it had reached that point). Plus, Heath and his team were crazy busy as they were about to sell the company. He “had to” be connected and available.
I was looking over the menu quietly to myself when Heath reached over and said, “please hold my phone."
He was handing me his phone. For me to be in control. Of his phone?! I was so shocked that he was giving up his time, all of it, for me. When I tell you that my heart leaped for joy. It burst. It was a cannonball. A skyrocket. Fireworks.
I was giddy that we were shutting the world out to be with one another. How romantic! We leaned into one another.
We spent that entire dinner facing one another, eye to eye. I was vulnerable with him that night in our conversations. I didn’t have that feeling that we’d be interrupted. I didn’t feel like I needed to compete for his attention. I noticed him relaxing more. He’d thrown the monkey off his back. We were free. Just us. He made my night a 10 by that simple action. And let me tell you, after a date like that, I wanted to make his night a 10 as well….
Yes, something happened. ;)
Since that evening, we’ve made date nights sacred - always phone-free. It is our normal. Of course, we are still parents of four kids so we (usually me) sometimes have to break the rule. But, it’s not often and we usually tell our kids that we’ll be offline for an hour. Side benefit… not only are we treating date night as sacred, but we’re also teaching our kids that their parent’s relationship is sacred. Game changer!
Heath started Aro to help families. To draw us back to one another, to be connected once again. He wanted this for others. I wanted it for us. Our family. And it’s worked. But I also want it for you.
Men, take the lead. Take your wife on a date this week. She longs for conversation, for connection, for intimacy.
Put your phone away (not on mute, not on the table, away). Tell your sitter or your kids that you won’t be available for one hour. One simple action to make her night a 10!
Do that, and something just might happen…