Four Minutes In The Morning

Amy and I created a tradition about a decade ago we call “four minutes in the morning.”  We try to – fully clothed – spend four minutes together every morning 100% focused on each other.

I’m an early bird – usually getting up around 5am regardless of the time zone I’m in (except on the weekends – then I sleep until I wake up – sometimes 1pm.)  Amy sleeps a little later (usually 6:30am).  So – I often have around 90 minutes alone every morning, which I treasure.  I have a well defined morning routine that includes a cup of coffee and 85 or so minutes in front of my computer.

When Amy gets up, I try to remember to jump up from my computer and start our four minutes.  Sometimes I forget and notice it when she thumps me on my head or clears her throat loudly.  But I eventually remember.  We then leave the office area, go to our living room, or outside on our porch, and spend our “four minutes” together.

Of course, the “four minutes” is metaphorical.  Sometimes it’s 15 minutes.  A few times a year it turns into an hour when we end up in a discussion about something.  But it’s always 100% bi-directional attention, except for our dogs who often want in on the discussion.

I travel a lot so this often translates into a phone call in the morning.  We recently started using Skype instead and it makes an amazing difference.  This morning, as Amy was in Keystone and I was in Boulder, we caught up with each other in our un-showered goodness.  Now, if we only had smell-o-vision, the experience would have been complete.

I miss Amy a lot whenever we aren’t together.  We’re lucky that we get to travel together a lot and that each of our work experiences have lots of location flexibility.  Skype has helped in a surprisingly nice way with one of our routines.

My recommendation to all my guy friends out there – try the “four minutes in the morning” routine with your significant other.  It’ll pay many dividends.

  • Shawn Rogers

    Excellent post Brad and a great marriage best practice. I agree that Skype can bridge the gap in a unique way I've used it with my kids and wife for years. Its especially useful on long Europe trips etc.

  • not just for a significant other… great for kids as well, especially if it can be a regular before/after school thing and short enough that it's not a problem to make that time on a regular basis – no matter what timezone you're in.

    when my daughter was younger there was a period of time I was working 5 days a week in a different state but luckily we had cellphones that supported video (yes America… video calling with cellphones has been a reality with carriers like Three in Australia for over 5 years now)

    these days Skype, especially with video, is a blessing as our family is now spread out over three countries and face time is important for the grandparents to see the kids growing up (and my brother to see me getting fat and bald and know what he's got to look forward to….)

  • Nice post Brad! About two decades ago, an executive with my company was explaining that the ridiculous expense for a cellular phone was justified by the extra 10-20 minutes of communication he had with his wife. My wife Deb and I travel all over the western US to meet with current and prospective clients. Skype video has become one of our favorite personal connection technologies. Even our dog seems to like hearing me (seeing me?) on Skype and his curious head tilting is quite entertaining at the end of a long travel day. Best to you and Amy.

  • Gary

    I LOVE this. A very deliberate act. Thank you for sharing.

  • 4 minutes of undivided attention is worth so much more than hours of mindless boggle.

    Check out The Way of The Superior Man by David Deida, one of my favorite books that devotes quite a few chapters to the concept of "presence."

  • Great post! Too often we forget those who make our lives meaningful. Kudos to you to keeping this up for so many years.

    Thanks for sharing

  • bobyourneghbour

    I try and spend 20min with her when you are out, not always talking

    • Well that was unexpected. As someone who's first wife had an affair with a guy named Bob, you can go fuck yourself.

      • jhen095

        +1 Touché Brad, touché

      • colinnwn

        Rosy Palmer is the only person someone of that maturity level and spelling ability is spending time with. I'm surprised you didn't delete such a cowardly and worthless post Brad!

  • That is a great tradition. Kudos to you!

  • I must try this too then and have to say working from home, skype and early mornings all rule ok for me too 🙂

  • Tim

    I have a hard time getting up in the morning but am beginning to see the value in it. Just out of curiosity: what time do you go to bed?

    • I usually go to bed between 10 and 11pm.

  • Allison

    Good advice… and not just for your guy friends. Anyone in a relationship could use some regular communication practice.

  • 20 years.

  • (another) Amy

    A nice article, but why would you direct it only to your ‘guy friends’? As I’m sure you do realize, many women have aggressive morning/travel schedules too.

    • Amy (the one I'm involved with) taught me a long time ago not to be presumptuous to tell women what men like. But I'm never hesitant to tell men my experience of what's worked for me.

      But you are totally correct!

  • Thank you very much for your post. I think my wife and I need to put this in practice… The only thing is we need to change it to 4 minutes in the evening, because mornings with 2 children who demand attention, is simply impossible.

    • The evening probably works also for this, although I find that I'm so fried by the end of the day that I'm pretty useless.

  • Brad,
    Thanks for this post, it is great marriage advice. Years ago, my wife and I had what we called "scheduled talk time" and we normally did it over dinner. The purpose was the same as yours an Amys, we gave each other 100% of our attention, and it was a forum for us to discuss what went well for us that day and what didn't. 4 kids and many years later, we have lost that tradition. Your post has reminded me that we need to get it back!


  • Mark

    If she is so passive aggressive that she just “clears her throat” or hits you when you forget – and being humans, we all forget – might I suggest a good divorce attorney?

    • Amy is the opposite of passive aggressive! I actually find this endearing – we aren't quite at the mental telepathy stage but we are pretty close.

    • nickrivadeneira

      Sounds to me like its more playful then aggressive.

  • Tom

    in the age of the internet even a tech geek can give relationship advice.

  • Rocco

    Taking the time to be THERE and AWARE for your wife/child/business partners seems to make the world of difference. Well said, and well done. Just finished 20 mins talking with my wife… such a gift.

  • Thanks for this excellent advice. It will really help a lot of people. I shared it with my friends on Facebook and Twitter because I know a lot of people need it.

  • Richard Tedrow

    Bravo, bravo, bravo. This is the best, purest, cleanest most sincere blog entry I've read anywhere ever. My mate and I spend that time and more every am simply hugging and cuddling. I find it — your entry — immensly reaffirming. Good on you, man!

  • Perfect timing for this post! My fiance and I are getting married next month, and with me traveling half-time for work, and the wedding out-of-state, too, we find ourselves spread thin across three states constantly. Skype has been a lifesaver for us, too, but we recently (3 days ago) realized the need for a very scheduled, consistent "ritual", especially in the run up to the wedding. We don't want to say our "I do"s when we're feeling disconnected.

    Thank you!

    • I was interested to read that you are an early riser. Have you tried exercising first thing in the morning instead of jumping online? Next time you're in Seattle I'd be happy to take you rowing at 5am. I've found that it's the best way to start my day and improves my mood and focus for the rest of the day. Also, you might find that it helps with the numbers you see on the Withings Scale 😉

      • evansjacobs

        Sorry, this was meant to be a comment on the blog post. I'll try again.

  • evansjacobs

    I was interested to read that you are an early riser. Have you tried exercising first thing in the morning instead of jumping online? Next time you're in Seattle I'd be happy to take you rowing at 5am. I've found that it's the best way to start my day and improves my mood and focus for the rest of the day. Also, you might find that it helps with the numbers you see on the Withings Scale 😉

    • I usually go for a run or swim right after my four minutes with Amy.

  • R.F.

    Good advice. As much I'd love to try this I'm afraid by Minute 1 our five-year-old will be there with the-most-important-question-in-the-world-that-has-to-be-answered-right-this-minute. By Minute 2 the six-month-old will start sniffling wanting to be held, aaaand that's pretty much that.

    Our connecting method condenses many four minute episodes into a dinner for two (thanks to nearby grandparents) preceded by a stiff adult beverage.

    But your point is well-taken. It's important to carve out those distraction-free moments.

  • Excellent advice mr Feld, now let me just go find that significant other! 🙂

  • Red

    I recently started using skype when one of my friends moved to Spain. It is much more meaningful than a phone conversation or web chat, to actually see her as I talk.

  • Martin Johnson

    I think I'm going to be sick. Yes, that's it, I have been.

  • Great idea. Thanks. Two questions: 1. Why do you only recommend this to your "guy" friends? Do you only give advice to guys? And, 2. What do you suggest for couples with kids? It's one thing for your dogs to want to be i on the discussion, but it's quite another for kids. Thoughts?

    • 1. I'm never presumptuous enough to give women relationship advice. I learned that lesson a long time ago! I leave that to Amy (my wife).

      2. Since I don't have kids, I don't know how to think about this.

  • thanks for the suggestion – I think it is a good one and I will try to incorporate it. I am sure it will be beneficial. They key is taking the time to focus.

  • Morning time is a good time for the people in the time people should be the exercise.Thanks to this topic.