Life was stressful. There was not much time or money for fun. We were frazzled. Putting most of our energy into child raising and keeping our heads above water, our intimate relationship took a back seat.
We needed a reminder that our relationship deserved more priority than either of us were giving it. Eventually, we adopted a bi-weekly date night which provided us with much sought after couples’ time.
After 16 years of marriage, and two children (14 and 10), I still get cranky when I don’t see enough of him one on one.
It is easy to fall into the trap of putting romance and connection on the back burner when children, work and the general “chaos” of life is present. Like most, my husband and I continue to need reminders to prioritize our relationship.
For parents who are fostering or raising adopted children, it is especially easy to deemphasize romance to form attachments with newly arrived children. This is ok in the short-term for the greater good of the newly adopted. However, ongoing neglect of connecting in romantic partnerships can bring complacency and possible atrophy.
It is plain and simple- our romantic attachments are equally as important as our attachments to our children!!! That being said, many of us simply do not have hours of time to devote to our spouses and partners each day or week.
Given the limited time parameters working families have, how do spouses and partners honor and uphold the sanctity of their intimate relationships?
John Gottman, a well-known and highly respected couple’s therapist, has done extensive research on hundreds of couples over the span of the past 35 years. He claims that it is not necessarily the lavish couples’ trips sans children to somewhere tropical or the grandiose dress up dinners and shows that maintain a sense of quality in romantic relationship.
It is how we navigate the everyday mundane times of our lives with one another that truly matters.
Gottman also talks about the importance of filling the emotional bank account in our partnerships. This is best accomplished by creating five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. When we create a sense of positivity (or fill the emotional bank account) with our significant other, we become better equipped to deal with challenges that arise.
The following three simple and easy to implement suggestions can go a long way in making that special someone in your life feel important.
- Increase opportunities for engagement with each other at home. Acknowledge your partner when you are in the same room or make eye contact when you pass him or her in the hall. Actively listen to, smile at, hold hands with or hug your partner on a regular basis. Always greet each other after the work day. Eat dinner together whenever possible. Always say goodnight if you turn it at different times even if you are in a tired daze from the busy day.
- Have a date night at home. Eat dinner in, rent a movie or play a game together at the kitchen table. If the kids are nearby, create a flexible plan to spend time together that can be modified if needed. 30 minutes of intentionally carved out time together which may be interrupted may not be two to three hours alone, but it is better than no attempt at all. Keep in mind that the activity does not matter. The attempt and hopefully success at spending time together are what matter.
- Get out of the house. If you believe the kids feel emotionally safe enough to be okay for a while with a trusted caregiver, experiment with small intervals of time away from the home and the kids. If it goes well, you can adapt this as a regular practice. If it doesn’t, revisit tips one and two and give it some time before trying again.
Are you missing that one on one time with your significant other? Do you feel you are losing your sense of connection in your intimate relationship? The best time to restore and renew your relationship is the present. Call now at 303-475-2757 for a no charge 30 minute couples consultation.