Greetings from I-95 just north of Port Canaveral, Florida! The GPS says we’re 972 miles away from home, meaning I am stuck in the car with my husband for approximately 14 more hours. But do not pity me. Our lives have been crazy busy and I now value this time we have together.
I acknowledge that it does not take a relationship coach/expert to know spending time together is imperative for a relationship to be healthy and last long-term. I even included several clauses in our marriage contract to ensure that my husband and I would be successful in this area. Despite being a relationship coach and the clauses in the contract, life happened!
If we were to rewind my life a few months, you would see my husband and I have been failing at this miserably. Both of our businesses have been thriving, which obviously requires more of our time. Our blended family went from having a 1/2 child over the summer to 2 full time children.
Then, there are those everyday life responsibilities and then the random ones, too. I even had to make several trips to Chicago, including the day of our anniversary. There were times we played tag team by meeting each other at a half way point only to exchange the children as one was coming home from work and the other going. I was truly in Super Woman mode to get things done and to get them done well.
The only area that was suffering during that time, was the most important. We were fortunate to have our yearly honeymoon interrupt this bad habit we were getting into. It was around mile marker 77, just south of Knoxville, when my husband leaned over and gave me a passionate kiss. My heart melted and I no longer wanted to be the woman who was functioning without him. I felt like we were newlyweds again and I knew we would have an amazing vacation together; and we did!
This hiccup in my marriage has lead me to explore how I allowed other things become more of a priority than my husband. I realized I was allowing societies demands (e.g., be successful in your career, keep a clean house, achieve mother of the year, etc.) interfere with my own priorities. I know many women struggle with the same issue, so I have developed a few arguments to address these dilemmas.
#1) The endless housework! I have resigned to the fact there will always be laundry needing to be folded, floors needing to be mopped, and surfaces needing to be dusted. A person could spend her whole life trying to keep up with the household and never feel like she is finished. At the end of my life, I will not remember when my floor was dirty or when I was behind on laundry. However, I will remember the amazing times my husband and I had together.
#2) Career demands! Before I continue, I would like to clarify that I do believe it is important to have a good work ethic. However just like everything else in life, there needs to be a balance. I have worked with many individuals who have been successful in their careers, and they acknowledge they are not truly happy in their lives when they do not have someone to share their success with. You have to ask yourself “Would you rather be the employee of the year or would you rather go home to your love every night?” On the other hand, if the relationship does not work out, a person may find herself having to work twice as hard to supplement the loss of a two income household.
#3) Then there are the children, who require a lot of attention. Many times I have heard men complain about losing their wife after having kids. The best thing parents can do for their children is to have a good relationship with the other parent. Divorce rips out the foundation for a child, leaving them susceptible to many problems. This situation will only be more time consuming, as a parent will have to help the child(ren) cope and she will no longer have the help and support of her spouse. Therefore, spending time with your spouse, is doing what is best for your children.
#4) Spending time together helps keep the relationship healthy, and in return, helps keep the individual healthy. Research has shown that individuals who are in healthy relationships can cope with stressful life events better. It has also shown eighty percent medical diagnosis are caused by stress. Healthy couples also report more positive behaviors, such as: affection, expressions of humor, happiness, and interests. Unhealthy couples report negative behaviors, such as: contempt, expressions of anger, fear, and tension(Gottman, 2004). Which category would you prefer to be in?
With these basic arguments, making time for each other is simply logical. If you and your significant other are struggling with this it is very likely that you will need to schedule a weekly appointments with each other. Otherwise, life will be sure to get in the way! To ensure success, you may need to start out with scheduling a small amount of time. Dr. John M. Gottman, author of The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work, states spending small amounts of time together on a regular basis is more successful for a marriage than waiting to spend long periods of time on vacation one or even a few times a year. Without the consistent emotional intimacy, the couple will grow apart. After this episode, I have re-evaluated my life’s schedule. I am adding weekend morning coffee dates, reinstating the nightly pillow talks, and strictly implementing our marriage contract. My husband has acknowledged how helpful the yearly honeymoon was, and he booked next years before we made it back to Cincy. I have also developed a motto to help me stay focused on this goal. “Regular date nights are the new preventative medicine for your marriage and your health. “
Gottman, John M. & Nan Silver “The Seven Principles for Making Marriages Work” New York: Crown Publishers (2004) Print.