The 20 Second Solution – How to Improve Any Relationship in 20 Seconds a Day

My husband and I have been married for 28 years, and through that time we’ve had been our share of ups and downs.  Regardless of what anyone tells you, no relationship is perfect, no relationship is without moments when one or both persons think(s) “what was I thinking? This person is a nut job!”  Admit it, anyone who’s been married for anything length of time, has at one time or another, rethought their decision.

Marriages fall apart for lots of reasons, to be sure. The loss of a child; a major illness; infidelity; Maybe there has been a financial setback that just can’t be overcome. The stress of any one of these things can cause irreparable damage if the couple doesn’t have a strong committed base or receive appropriate support and perhaps even professional counseling.  But what about the everyday stress?  What about the husband who doesn’t help with the dishes or the wife who compares her life to her friends’, sometimes with less than favorable results?

The 20 Second Solution to the Rescue

I first heard about the 20 Second Solution from Father Mike Manning, SVD, who originally proposed it to our group of parents preparing their children for First Communion years ago.  Father Mike suggested it as the 5 Second Solution, however – as someone who’s never been married he was a little more optimistic.  The solution was simple.  Each morning, before you leave your spouse for the day, simply hug them, and pray for them for 20 seconds.  Not a bear hug, not a “let’s go back upstairs” hug, but a gentle, loving embrace.  Twenty seconds.  That’s it.

Too simple?  I thought so.  How is hugging this man who five minutes ago criticized my outfit going to make me feel warm and fuzzy toward him?  How is hugging this man who would rather run out the door and get his morning coffee than spend 20 seconds hugging me quietly going to bring peace to our home?  Here’s the simple part – Prayer!

When we pray for our spouse we tell God we love this person.  When we pray for our spouse we remind ourselves of all the reasons we married them.  When we pray for our spouse I believe the Holy Spirit carries those prayers straight from our heart to theirs, and the other person FEELS the love.  Think about it.  Jesus says “wherever two or more are gathered in my name there I am.”  If you and your spouse made a daily habit of praying for each other, while embracing one another, Jesus IS THERE.  Jesus is embracing you.  Who couldn’t use a hug from Jesus each morning?

We don’t pray out loud.  Each of us prays silently.  If one person finds it harder to pray than the other, that’s okay.  No one has to know.  Simple enjoy the hug and say in your heart, “Jesus, please be with my spouse today”.

My husband and I have been practicing the 20 Second Solution in earnest for about six months now.  I wish I had started it when Father Mike suggested it to me ten years ago.  Our commitment to each other is stronger now than ever in our 28 years of marriage. I find the little things don’t bother me as much.  I don’t dread discussing things with him.  We are stronger as a couple and stronger as individuals.

Your marriage doesn’t have to be in trouble to try the 20 Second Solution.  I would never say we were “on the rocks”.  But if we were, isn’t marriage worth 20 seconds?

As we celebrate this month of love, and prepare for Valentine’ Day, give the 20 Second Solution a try and let me know how it goes.

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