Many people struggle with finding time for their relationship as well as work, family, friends, self, and the chores and errands of the daily routine. Yet some couples find ways to make it happen. These are strategies I've heard from friends, colleagues, and the couples I work with.
Start small - If you can't find an hour a week, start with 10 minutes. If a night out isn't in your budget, walk around the neighborhood together. One couple had a "date" every Friday night at home. Their kids ate early, helped re-set the table, then disappeared into their rooms for an hour. It was an enjoyable time for the whole family.
Develop rituals - Create something that happens almost automatically. One couple has dinner out every Tuesday. Another couple takes a long walk every Friday afternoon. Some of my clients have coffee or lunch together after a session.
Plan ahead -- Plan something in advance that is hard to change. One couple bought season tickets to the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Their "date" went into their calendars months in advance, and they looked forward to each evening together.
Couples who understand the importance of time together keep their relationship in mind when they make choices about how to spend their precious 168 hours a week. They look at new opportunities and obligations through the lens of their relationship, and are willing to say "No" to things that don't add to their lives.
When the consider a vacation, promotion, volunteer opportunity, or a request for help they consider these questions:
- Will this bring my partner and I farther apart or bring us closer together?
- Will this bring fun, adventure, and joy into our lives?
- Will this bring us closer to our dreams, to what we want our relationship to be like in the long run?
- What do I lose if I say no?
- What will happen to our relationship time?