Family life

Living in the present: Not all it's cracked up to be?

Reconnect with your spouse and maybe even set a new course together by reliving the past and envisioning the future.

By Liza Finlay
Living in the present: Not all it's cracked up to be?

Photo: RyanJLane/

A vast assemblage of self-help gurus tell us to “live in the present” — and there is wisdom in that. But a lot can be learned by revisiting the past and reimagining the future. Especially when it comes to your relationship.
I recently returned from a family vacation. My husband and I spent hours lounging by a pool, laughing about past blunders and fantasizing about our future together. We came home with fortified bonds and a renewed commitment to our shared life path.
And that’s when it struck me. In the chaos of family life, most of us put our relationships on autopilot. We coast through these busy years of our relationship just coping.
So, “live in the present”? Sure. But when the present is a confused tangle of greasy diaper bags, fossilized snack containers, towering laundry piles and warring iCals, then looking back and looking forward can be just as beneficial.
The following exercises will help you and your spouse reconnect and maybe even set a new course.
Past Perfect

  • The past belongs to you. Your “couple history” is a valuable resource, so use it. Just as you might re-read a novel or textbook that taught you something important or made you feel something vital, I want you to re-read your past scripts.
  • Replay old songs. Reflect on who you were, as individuals and as a couple. What did you do right that you could resurrect? What mistakes have you corrected? If nachos, margaritas and The Gypsy Kings were once your Friday night fare, your assignment is to resurrect the tradition this Friday.

Future Framework

  • Become master builders. You and your partner are the architects of your future. Take a few moments and dream, muse, envision your lives ahead. Sharing our innermost longings is a powerful tool in crafting intimacy. Pulling together two people’s longings into a blueprint for the future is even more powerful!
  • Create a vision board. My husband and I routinely fantasize about retirement (we are famous for cruising open houses in virtually every city we visit!). Once a year we construct a vision board together. That exercise unites us and gets our juices flowing — which isn’t always easy in a life filled with stinky hockey bags, and stained softball jerseys. Read on to learn how to make a vision board>

How To Make A Vision Board

  • Find a large piece of cardboard, foam board, or cork board. I prefer something that can stand or be framed.
  • Collect images that inspire you — places you’d like to go, houses you aspire to live in, cars you want to drive. The sky’s the limit. The image could merely capture an emotion. Explore image banks online or your own photo library.
  • Pin, glue or tape the images on the board collage-style, or collect them in groups that make sense.
  • Position the board somewhere highly visible as a daily reminder of your shared future vision.

For more Sex and Relationship articles, visit our Parenting page>

This article was originally published on Jun 13, 2012

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