My wife of 13 years and I both work full-time and have two school-age children.
We’re both trying to advance at work, take our kids to activities, and help them with homework. We’re also trying to stay fit and also have couple-time as adults, but that last is the first thing to go.
We repeatedly have to cancel plans for a dinner out without the kids, and barely ever go for a walk together.
There’s almost no opportunity to check in with each other and share how things are going for us, personally.
I’m not talking about sex. We’re smart enough to know that if we don’t keep that going, it’s too easy to be attracted elsewhere when we’re both working closely with other co-workers.
But we can go for days exchanging details about schedules, and rushing to do and get everything on our lists.
How do we fit in just taking time together?
No Time For Sharing
You’re on the right track for even asking the question.
You can liken the need to “share” back to your days of having time for a best friend. You’d vent, he/she would listen, offer a suggestion, reassurance, and you’d feel closer for being understood.
People in couples also need a best friend – and many do this sharing with someone else – but it’s important to also see your partner in that light.
Look at all your “routines,” from flossing to watching a particular TV show, and cut back the one minute it takes to arrange to have a talk later or the next day, for a half-hour.
Maybe it’s a walk with a sleepy child in the stroller, or after dinner if the kids are old enough to be left that long.
Or a shorter workout session, or getting a babysitter for a night out that’s about being confidantes as much as a date.
There’s plenty of evidence that this kind of connection is a common need.
The description of your married-with-kids life – busy, aspiring, multi-focused – is so common that a December 25 front-page article in the New York Times was devoted to the stresses on modern parenting, with new research showing this applies across class divides, not just among upper-middle-class parents.
Also, connecting emotionally as a couple is the basis of the popular approach to couples’ counselling, called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). It’s a short-term therapy approach that focuses on adult attachment and bonding in relationships.
Trust me; find the time for each other now. Otherwise, if you and your wife eventually find that your marriage bond is suffering, you’ll be lucky to find time for getting therapy before it’s too late.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman, 26, who disbelieves a description of her boyfriend from one woman that he’s a cheater and liar, and also disbelieves another woman’s email that she’d slept with this guy (Dec. 26):
Reader – “This young lady is too naive. Maybe she needs to hear from other guys. I would tell her that it's very likely those stories are true.
“People cheat!! I've dated up to three people at a time, sometimes seeing two in the same day. Each was thinking that she was the only one.
“I started doing this in high school and continued until age 45. I now regret what I did in the past, and have settled down with "The One.”
“This “wonderful boyfriend” she describes might be true to her, but I’d bet he’s not.”
Ellie – A sad reality in limited cases.
FEEDBACK More regarding “self-absorbed” adult children who don’t contact their parents/grandparents (Dec. 24):
Reader – “Your advice (Ellie – it was, to not give up on them) further absolved the two "smart, successful" adult kids who can't give their grandparents or supportive parents the time of day unless they want or need something.
“From the advice-seeker's description, the relationship has become one-sided. It sounded to me like a friendship no longer worth the time and trouble to keep up, when all the effort’s by one party.
“Advising their mother to text them just adds to her frustration. Texting is not a replacement for the sound of a human voice or real communication between parent and child.
“I believe that the boomers who raised kids in the 70s/ 80s were equally busy as today's younger generation, even more so because our time wasn't wasted obsessing about others’ lives, on Facebook.”
Tip of the day:
Finding time to connect as adults is a crucial need of couples with kids.