The Four Minute Rule

Posted March 20, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

On Sunday, my husband and I had an absurd shopping experience. We went bed shopping. Now, I realize this is something people do all the time….or every 10 or so years, I suppose, when one needs to buy a bed. But in general, it’s an absurd experience. Lying on multiple beds, rolling back and forth between the hard side and the soft side. Nothing could be more absurd. Following choosing a mattress, we strolled over to the bed frames and it only took us 10 or so minutes to pick one out. The salesman commented to us, “Wow. You two are going to be together forever. You make decisions beautifully.” And he was right. We do make decisions beautifully together. We generally agree on things both big and small, and if we don’t, we compromise easily. It’s one of the tenants of our marriage, among others.

This got me thinking, what is the most important tenant of our marriage? And what gives us this amazing sense of compromise? One of the most important things we do is the “four minute rule.” We talked about this early in our relationship, and now it’s simply become innate behavior. No matter what we’re doing or where we are, when we come back together at the end of the day – from work, or workouts, or meetings – we drop everything to spend at least four minutes talking to one another. Starting out our time together every day with the notion that our relationship is the most important thing – not the television, not cooking dinner, not laundry.

Whether you’re married or single, practicing the “four minute rule” in your own way will change the shape of your relationship – with your significant other or with yourself. Spend four minutes a day, when you first get home, speaking lovingly and honestly. If you’re in a relationship, give to one another. If you are single, spend some time journaling or taking care of yourself. Let the first four minutes of your evening set up your level of work/life integration and the way you treat your life outside of business.

The company you keep, and the strength of your relationships – internal and external – will be what keep you sane, strong, and calm during the most difficult and stressful times in your career. So build in the time, it’s worth it.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."