It's often observed that in spite of the vast array of modern day time-saving technologies we have less and less free time. Many couples find themselves constantly torn between the pressures of employment and personal life. We need to earn a living, but we also want quality time for our partners, our family, our friends and ourselves. It can feel as though there just aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week. And while we rush around trying to fit more and more activities into less and less time, it is often our couple relationships that suffer.
Why time is so important
When we first fall in love we spend as much time as is physically possible being together. Jokes may even be made about being 'joined at the hip'. In those early days we are desperate to get to know each other better. To share the minutiae of our daily lives, our thoughts and our feelings. And it is through this process that we get closer and feel connected.
Time together is, to a relationship, what water is, to a plant. It's how a relationship is nurtured and cared for. It's the stuff that makes it stronger and helps it to grow. To stay connected as a couple, you need to feed your relationship with time. Time to keep in touch with what's happening in your everyday lives. Time to share your hopes and dreams as well as your fears and failings. And time to have fun.
Here are some tips to help you re-align your life/work balance.
Accept Your Life Stage
There will be times in your life when you have even less time than normal. For example when you have very small children, have just started a business or are caring for an elderly relative. There may be very little that you can do to change your circumstances in times like these. But simply learning to accept where you are at and knowing that this is a phase can help you to feel less stressed and look forward to the future.
Expand Your Timetable
If it's simply not possible to fit everything into one week, then consider expanding your timetable. Rather than stressing and ultimately failing to manage that romantic evening in ever week or that long country walk, consider scheduling on a fortnightly or even monthly basis. It may not be ideal, but it may be more realistic and less likely to fail.
If you're going through a particularly demanding time in your life, then grab as much help as you possibly can. There are a multitude of ready meals and partly prepared dishes available as well as a host of technological miracles from internet shopping to the dishwasher. If you can afford it, get a cleaner, if not rope in the family. Let the mother-in-law do the ironing, the neighbour's kid wash the car and your sister babysit. You'd do the same for them if the situation was reversed.
Don't Be A Perfectionist
Remember that when you're very busy it's better to let your standards slip than your relationship. Any meal tastes better when it's eaten together and you can't see the clutter by candlelight.
Schedule Couple time
Lot's of people feel it's far too formal to schedule time together as a couple. But sometimes making an appointment to see your partner is the only way to make it happen. The method may not be romantic, but the outcome could be.
Think Quality not Quantity
It's a cliché, but it's true. If you only have a short period of time to play with, then make every second count. Book times when you can talk as well as times when you can crash out together on the sofa and watch a film. And remember that nowadays it can be easy to keep in touch during the day. Get into the habit of exchanging text messages, making a phone call, or meeting for 10 mins in a private chat room. Do whatever you can to keep in touch.
Consider Your Priorities
If you've tried everything above and you still don't feel you have enough time as a couple, then you may have to have a long hard look at your priorities. Are there activities in your life that you should seriously consider dropping? At least for the time being. Sacrificing something you enjoy doing is always difficult - but are you willing to risk your relationship instead?
How Relate can help:
A book that can help is Life Strategies: The No-nonsense Approach to Turning Your Life Around by Phillip C. McGraw