So, you get married to the love of your life…what could be better? You stay up late sharing dreams for your lives and ideas on how to change the world. You go to movies (including one’s you would never go to otherwise). You try new foods because she likes them, or you go to baseball games because that’s what he does. It sounds wonderful. And it is. And then things change.
You develop different interests and hobbies. Work takes time. Kids take lots of time. Suddenly, a short conversation feels like a luxury. And you begin to feel the distance. You just can’t seem to find the time for your relationship.
So, you try to right the ship. You read a book about improving your marriage. Attend a seminar. Ask others for advice. But nothing seems to truly bridge the distance between you.
But there is something that might. Time. Lots of time.
Now don’t be fooled, time together doesn’t cure everything in a marriage. It isn’t a fix-all. But it comes close. Lack of communication is often a product of just not enough time together. You can’t see each other for five minutes a day and expect intimate conversations to just burst forth. That’s not how it works. Couples who spend lots of time far apart (travelling a lot for work, living in different cities for a time) often complain not just about missing the most intimate of talks, but the most mundane. Talking about your day or who you had lunch with actually matters. But it takes time.
“Quality Time” is typically an outrgrowth of “Quantity Time.” “We never talk”, “we rarely cuddle”, “we seem so distant” typically begin in the same spot: “we don’t have time.”
Maybe it is time (pardon the pun) to give your relationship the soil it needs to grow in…time with each other.
This doesn’t mean you have to go on a date every week, or lay aside a weekend a month. For many couples that is unrealistic. Rather, a little creativity and commitment go a long way. Here are a few ideas.
1. Do chores together. The bathroom needs to be cleaned. How about you scrub the tub while I handle the mirror and sink. If you do several rooms, you can have a real conversation.
2. Make your bedroom a “no-fly zone.” After a certain time (say 9:00) everyone in the house knows that your bedroom is off-limits. Jut lay on the bed and talk. Rub each others shoulders. Let the day go and just enjoy each others presence.
3. Say no. No to getting one more chore done tonight. No to that next birthday party your kid wants to attend. No to the requirement that before you can spend time on yourself and your spouse everything else must be done. The dishes can wait. Your marriage cannot.
Now, this doesn’t mean that time apart is bad. Hobbies, sports, going hunting, weekend shopping trips with your friends, etc., may all have a place in a healthy relationship. But if you are going to err, err on the side of time together. I have yet to hear a couple say, “You know, the problem in our marriage was just too much time together.” Rather, it is the lack of time with each other that leads to distress, anxiety, and maybe even the dreaded “growing apart.”
Go ahead, take a long drive out in the country. Spend the evening telling each other what your dream vacation would be. Grab a coke or a coffee to share and just hold hands. Remember, this is the love of your life. For that, you have all the time in the world.