I’m not sure when David invented DHTs, but I think it was during the time we lived part time in my hometown, Fort Myers, to help care for my mother during the final years of her life. For David and me, who own and operate a small business that requires frequent travel, commuting to and from Fort Myers was a dreadful experience. We got to know every mile marker on Alligator Alley between Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers. And, we spent about 4 months every year in our Fort Myers house, caring for Mom, all the while never missing a day of work. All this is to say these were tough years that put a financial strain on us, from which we have never recovered, as well as a personal toll on both David’s and my lives. So, what is a DHT? DHT is an abbreviation for “Designated Hug Time.” During particularly stressful times, the rule is, if anyone calls out “DHT,” the other person must immediately stop what he/she is doing and participate in a hug fest. This means that, if either David or I is/are in the middle of arguing, complaining, or acting grumpy, it has to stop as soon as “DHT” is called. It also works for no reason at all. For example, if one of us walks into the room where the other of us is, at the sound of “DHT,” everything must stop, immediately, until the hugging is complete. David and I have dear friends, Roger and Janine, who call out “Group Hug” when we are together and all of us stop what we are doing to form a circle and hug. During these times of social isolation, many of my friends have told me that the thing they miss the most is, you guessed it, hugs. DHTs are not just for David and me, nor are Group Hugs limited to our interactions with Janine and Roger. Try it for yourself. Hugs have an amazing healing power. Hug power!
There is an extra tension in a marriage when one also works with one’s spouse as we have for 30+ years. It is a 24/7/365 lifestyle unless one of us is traveling for business, and that is often a together activity for us. Inevitably, there will be tensions and stresses that become personal even if they are business related. Our work with trial lawyers is stressful for us, and them, and the stresses of managing employees add to the stressors. Sometimes, it feels like all the stresses result in a boiling/whistling tea kettle and I thought, what can we do to cool things off? Thus, the DHT. DHT almost becomes one of those safe words – a message to “chill out” and put things in perspective. In particular, Melissa is a perfectionist and becomes almost obsessed to be sure things are being done right, not in the “my way or the highway mode” (well, sometimes) but although we live and work together 24/7, we are not always in sync about priorities or ways of doing things. So, there can be friction and a DHT can break the tension. It is worth a try.