That time I forced my husband to do nothing - JJ Landis
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That time I forced my husband to do nothing



I’m spending the weekend at a country inn with my husband. We haven’t been away alone together for seven or eight years. I don’t even know the last time we went on a “date.” We both enjoy being home, we don’t like to spend money, and we don’t like to ask other people to watch our kids – so we end up not going out much. (We’re so interesting. Envy us.)


In early January I was invited to speak at a silent retreat. Have you ever heard of a better gig? I kicked off the weekend on Friday evening with a 45-minute session where I shared my testimony and some virtues of a life of solitude and silence. These virtues came from books, not from my own life. I’m aspiring to a more meditative existence, but mainly spend my days putting out fires all around me rather than stoking the flames of a contemplative soul.


The 40-some attendees were to be silent from Friday evening at 10 p.m. until Sunday morning when we gathered together again to share what we did/learned/experienced during our quiet time.


I shared some here about my time of silence. I also came away with a sense that my husband would benefit from a silent retreat. He works nonstop taking care of all of us and when not doing real work, he throws himself into projects for the kids like playing music (here’s a song from last spring: Down on the Corner by our family band) and making videos (his most recent: Portal Panic and my favorite memory from last summer: Shark Patrol) and handling Boy Scout paperwork. He doesn’t like to say no when asked for help (this is not an invitation to call and ask for help!).


There were five or six men at the retreat, but the majority were women. Though I saw benefits in a silent retreat, I couldn’t picture Lee paying money to do nothing and not talk for two days.


I asked him to choose a weekend; then I made sure our children were cared for and forced him (he came willingly) to a romantic country inn two hours away from home. I told him it would be a weekend to accomplish nothing.


We’ve currently been here almost 24 hours and we haven’t left the property yet. I gotta tell you, I am so proud of us! Two people who normally cannot be off have managed to do a whole lot of nothing! Walking, reading, sleeping, talking, sitting in silence.


A status of “married with children” is a gift, but from time to time I forget the married part because the children part occupies so much of my heart and mind. This man is the one I wanted to spend my life with, the one who chose me – before we knew who our kids would be, or if we’d even have a family.


Because we get along so well (read: he puts up with my crazy and doesn’t take the bait when I try to pick fights), we don’t often put effort into the marriage.


I’m thankful for this time alone, this bit of effort put into our wellbeing.


Obviously, I’m “working” by writing this blog, but since writing is my hobby not my job, it’s okay! I’m trying to stay out of Lee’s way for a few hours because for the first time in ages, he is relaxing and reading a book.


What do you do to relax, to step away from life? If you’re married, do you go on dates?


Image courtesy of moggara12 at

  • Politics, skunks, skin disease, and a blue burrito
    Posted at 10:11h, 22 February Reply

    […] in my house, my favorite time of day. Lee and I had a successful “do nothing” weekend away (read about it here) and I was still feeling a bliss hangover this Monday […]

  • Peg
    Posted at 10:59h, 21 February Reply

    Sounds wonderful, JJ. And great insights!

  • Paige
    Posted at 21:57h, 20 February Reply

    My husband and I definitely do dates! We do weekly (or near weekly) mini-dates … out for a 15 minute drive to escape the chaos and reconnect, taking half an hour to grab a cup of coffee and talk, or (my perennial fav) strolling hand-in-hand as we wander up and down the aisles of a grocery store. Mini-dates don’t cost us much other than time, which honestly is hard enough to invest if we don’t make it a priority and put it on our calendars. Jon and I also keep a monthly date night, usually out to eat dinner … which is more often than not just a step above fast food. But hey, there isn’t much that beats eating a Jason’s Deli salad with the love of my life. Additionally, we go away together for a few days at least once a year. Twice we have done longer trips (five days each time), but if nothing else, we always manage to take a weekend away. Jon and I look at dating each other as an investment in us and in our marriage. We have seven kids. Obviously we aren’t wealthy. We have to make the time to put it on our calendar and set the money aside to be sure we can go on our dates. But seeing as this is a second marriage for both of us, and that we want to stay connected as a couple (not just as parents), we feel like this is something we can do to protect our relationship.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 14:59h, 21 February Reply

      Thanks for commenting Paige. I love reading about your creative dates. Grocery store sounds fun – ha ha!

  • Steve Austin
    Posted at 19:52h, 20 February Reply

    Why does this get me all choked up? I wish we had the money and time to get away. Oh, how I would love a weekend like this with my love! I had a silent weekend of my own, Labor Day weekend of 2014…it changed my life. But I don’t think we’ve had any downtime since! 🙂

    So happy for you guys, and so jealous!!

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 17:28h, 21 February Reply

      Mr. Steve,
      It gets easier when your kids are older and not a lot of work for someone else to take care of (although I’m sure YOUR kids are calm and easy and no work at all…).

      Don’t be jealous. This was a longtime coming for us. We definitely have a good day-to-day friendship/relationship and we don’t fight about anything so we kind of just float along, not seeing the importance of time alone.

      I support those who think “date nights” are necessities, but generally, I’d rather save the money by not going out. We would rather just be home and hang with the kids. A night of all of us watching Phineas and Ferb on Netflix is a dream!

      However, I understand the jealousy pangs – grass is always greener – I get jealous of friends who have tons of grandparent help for their kids and tons of money to go on vacations all the time. But all that does NOT guarantee a good marriage. You can have Steve and Lindsey perfection even by not going away! Got it?

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