intimacy and connection

Could You Do This for 4 Minutes?

Or is such intimacy a hot potato that can’t be held for too long?

I conducted my own experiments yesterday.

Intimacy and Connection: Field Notes

Child A: Was fidgety. Wanted to do something more active, but stuck with the experiment. Persevered through temptations to check the timer, and later stayed to observe as I did the same with Child B. Then kissed me on the way outside to play. I felt a sense of overwhelming love, but Child A didn’t have the stillness for that sensation to move in.

At this point the kids and I watched the above video together. Child B therefore has advance knowledge going into the subject chair.

Child B: Tolerated the 4 minutes but was uncomfortable, with skittish eyes. Even so, I felt moments of deep connection. I could sense this child at a soul level, which felt exquisite because it was devoid of judgment, either of the Child or of myself (“how do I look — do I have bedhead? food in my teeth?”). Child B reported it felt “creepy,” but said so with a sly smile.

Of note: my children are t(w)eens.

Later, Husband came home from a 2 hour bike ride. I caught him in the TV room as he was stretching.

Husband: His eyes bored into mine early on, so I softened and tried to smize. I soon realized it may have been a mistake to conduct the experiment during a basketball game (he allowed me to turn the TV off, but its essence lingered). At one point he zoned out, looking beyond me, perhaps trying to shave off a minute or two with a time warp. He showed great relief when the timer beeped, and humored me by watching about half the above video, at which point it dawned on him what the experiment was about.

My conclusion? Timing is everything.

And for better (and not necessarily more accurate) results, watch the video with your subjects before conducting the experiment.

guide to living in open adoption

Lori Holden, mom of a teen son and a young adult daughter, writes from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Catch episodes of Adoption: The Long View wherever you get your podcasts.

Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

18 thoughts on “Could You Do This for 4 Minutes?”

  1. After watching the video, I really want to try this. Do I agree with you that timing and an introduction are probably key for success. That said, I’d be interested in hearing a follow up in a couple of days. There are so many studies on stuff like this where impact is most significant later on. Am interested what Husband thinks upon reflection (and when you’re not competing with a basketball game).

    1. I’m going to try to be more spontaneous with the next round of experiments, though I will be more aware of sports events. Ugh — it’s just about March Madness!

  2. Ha! We tried to do that in the lobby of the swim center while the twins were having a lesson. Completely agree with you about timing. You can’t be trying to just shove it in somewhere as a “to do.”

  3. I read an article about something like this a few weeks ago, somewhere—I’ll have to find it again. That one started with a list of questions, then the eye contact. Ian and I agreed to try it sometime, but sometime didn’t come up. We should schedule it for this week. Thanks for the reminder.

  4. Oh man, that video made me inexplicably start crying. It was strangely moving to me, especially since my husband and I have just been saying how everything seems so incredibly busy lately (and we don’t yet have children!). I loved your description of your trials, and agree that timing is everything. I totally want to try this with my husband, but maybe not tonight as I think I’m ridiculously emotional for some reason! (Or maybe tonight is the perfect night…)

  5. My husband and I have done this more than a few times. I like to do this to remind myself of the intimacy we share. I usually end up crying, but just let the tears fall and keep going, maintaining eye contact. My husband values that it allows him to get out of his head and into his heart. TIP: pick one eye of the other person to look at when holding your gaze (I usually settle on the left eye). Otherwise you’ll end up looking at the bridge of the other person’s nose, which defeats the purpose. Or, your eyes flit back and forth and it’s weird to the other person — and shifty!

  6. Wow. Well, younger child could not do this. Older child would collapse into a pile of giggles.

    I’m not sure what would happen with my husband. I don’t know if he’d be willing to try it. Or maybe … if I would. Something about looking into someone else’s eyes for that long also tells you a lot about yourself, I suspect.

  7. To say this would be difficult for me would be a huge understatement. I am a consummate fidget, the ultimate multi-tasker. I engage in almost obsessive movement. I also think I would burst out laughing at some point. And that makes me feel really shallow and immature even. Oddly enough, I can meditate. All that said, I think I’ll try it. Thanks!


  8. Fantastic experiment. Given the go-go-go-ness of our world, even to sit and watch a 5 minute long video is a trial. This, even with the limited “action” was quite moving.

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