This is a guest post from Bri McKoy of OurSavoryLife.com
A few years into our marriage my husband Jeremy and I started to drift apart. We both traveled a lot for work. Our jobs were demanding. Even the regular, daily pressures of adulthood were keeping us from investing time into our relationship.
There was grocery shopping and paying bills and the car breaking down, again. There were obligations like potlucks and meeting the new boss and volunteering at our church. By the end of the day we had both so fully poured ourselves out to the world that we had nothing left to give each other.
Sometimes the people we love the most get the least of us.
We spent too many months to count in front of the television during mealtime. We’d shovel take-out down our mouths and then turn to our phones. One evening as we were doing dishes, Jeremy handed me a plate and I blurted out, “It feels like we’re roommates.”
We had become amazing housemates and horrible lovers. We cautiously tried to evaluate if we were breaking or if we were already broken. There were so many things we could have turned to for help but we decided to start with something unexpected, something that almost felt silly. We thought we’d start at the table.
For 30 days, we decided to show up to our dining room table at mealtime. We’d turn off the television and turn off our phones. We’d turn toward each other. It did not cost us anything to show up to our everyday dining room table but it saved us everything. It saved our marriage. I could share story after story of what taking those small steps to the dining room table did for our marriage. It was life-giving and revolutionary and unexpected. But you do not have to take my word for it. Study after study concludes that one of the most transformative and healthy things a family can do is to show up consistently together to their table for mealtime. In fact, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that kids and teens who share family dinners three or more times per week:
- perform better academically
- are less likely to engage in risky behaviors (like drugs, alcohol and sexual activity)
- have better relationships with their parents
It sounds almost too good to be true! But, isn’t it worth at least trying? And I get it – I really do! At the end of the day it is hard to muster up the energy for mealtime. We’re busy and stretched too thin. But I am so for you! I want this for you! So here are my top three tips for getting back to the table more consistently. It might just change your life:
Put it on Your Calendar. Create Buy In.
I know too well how easy it is to talk about the importance of coming to the table but not putting it into practice. Be sure to put it on your calendar. Sit down with your family at the beginning of the week and pick out at least two-three days that week you can all come to the table for mealtime. Make sure the people in your home understand why you want to start gathering them around the table so they are also invested!
Nothing Fancy. We’re Here for People, Not Instagram Worthy Food.
Remember why you are showing up to the table. It can be easy to get stressed out over making an elaborate meal or trying to have the most delicious recipes perfected. But the importance of the table is more about who is at the table – not what is at the table. So, take a deep breath. Make a quick meal (or even takeout!) and remember that loving the people at your is the most important thing happening at your table.
Become an Expert Question-Asker
The first few nights Jeremy and I showed up to the table it was awkward. We were so tired that we didn’t really know how to engage with each other. We asked the same dull questions like, “How was your day?” and, “What does tomorrow look like for you?” So, we decided to get help! There are so many amazing question starter games out there. We keep Table Topics and a Q&A book on our table so we remember to get curious about each other and not just dial it in with halfhearted conversation. We started learning the art of asking good questions.
For Jeremy and me, our initial 30-day challenge to show up to the table transformed how we loved each other. We started talking to each other with more patience and grace. We became more interested in one other and more curious. We rediscovered the joy in our union. We remembered why we chose each other. We laughed together more. This challenge of coming to the table has turned into a lifelong practice. It’s been three years and it is still one of the most healing and life-giving things we can do for our relationship and our relationships with friends and neighbors. In a world filled with divisiveness, pain, and too many to-dos, the table can be a safe place. A healing place. A place for us to love well and be loved.
It seems simple but sometimes the simplest thing that costs us the least amount of money is the thing that just might change everything. You can do this! If you want more my new book Come and Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table comes out September 5. Its sole purpose is helping you find, or continue, your own journey to the table. And because I so desire this for you I included 21 weeknight meal recipes as well as questions for the table and tips and tricks at the end of each chapter. I did all the heavy lifting so you can focus on what’s the most important.
This is the best part! If you preorder my book by September 4, I have so many free goodies for you! You will get:
- Instant access to the first four chapters of my book (so you can start your journey to the table today!)
- Instant access to all 21 recipes with grocery list
- A free downloadable print to hang in your kitchen to keep you inspired to keep coming to the table
- A recipe video where I cook my favorite recipe (not featured on my blog) and share more tips and tricks
- Automatically entered to win 1 of 3 of my favorite aprons!
Preorder Come and Eat today and let’s start our journey to the table!
Bri McKoy is an accidental home cook and lover of gathering people around the table. She learned to cook in her late twenties after getting married and realizing that hot dogs for dinner every night was not sustainable. Her new book, Come and Eat: A Celebration of Love and Grace Around the Everyday Table is an invitation to anyone who is searching for deeper community and a desire to show more of Jesus’ love right from their very own dining room table. You can find more stories from her table and recipes on her food blog at OurSavoryLife.com.