Life is busy. For couples with children life is even busier as they shuttle kids from activity to activity, keep the house running and hold down full-time jobs.
It is not a surprise that when our counsellors ask couples about how much ‘ us time ’ they get, the answer is usually ‘no time for that’.
No time for us time
When our counsellors ask why, the responses are again similar.
The general theme being that as a relationship matures, the practicalities of life – raising children, demanding jobs, caring for older relatives – impinge on our time. ‘Us time’ simply gets squeezed out.
That realisation saddens me because we are sleepwalking into an exhausted acceptance that ‘us time’ is a luxury we simply cannot afford.
Thinking about relationships as living entities
We have talked before about how the relationship with our partner is a living entity in its own right. By that definition we must think of it in the same way we would our children; vulnerable, precious gifts that require time, love, attention and protection.
This consequently poses some tricky questions we all need to consider.
Ask yourself honestly if your relationship gets the time it deserves. For example, when was the last time you sat down with your partner and talked? And by talking I don’t mean the nightly bedtime ‘did you pay the insurance?’ Q&A session.
I mean a proper conversation about both of you and your relationship. Discussing hopes, fears, emotions and how you are doing in life right now.
How much love do we give to our relationships?
Equally does your relationship get much love?
In the busyness of life we often take it for granted like the foundations of a house; reliable, out of sight and requiring little thought. Investing love in our relationship becomes something we used to do when it was fresh and vibrant.
Going through the motions during us time
How much attention we give to our relationship goes a long way to deciding how healthy it remains. Neglect a child and their behaviour, health and wellbeing will deteriorate rapidly.
So is ‘us time’ an afterthought?
Do you plan a date night together and really make it a special occasion or is it a case of going through the motion when you have time?
When it does happen are you guilty of being present in body but not mind? Distracted by work emails or Instagram on your smartphone?
Protecting our relationship
When we think about protecting a relationship, typically our minds turn to the risks posed by affairs and neglect. Threats, however, can be more subtle.
A good example is whether your time together is protected. Or is it the first thing to go when schedules get really busy?
Do you nourish it by thanking and praising your partner for what they do or is it more often harsh criticism (to their face or behind their back)?
Give your relationship what it needs to thrive
The relationship with your partner is far too valuable to sacrifice.
We must ask ourselves if packing the week with activities for our kids and working every hour that God sends is worth it if our relationship becomes a deeply unhappy, lonely mess.
The Spark Counselling
The Spark’s couples counselling and marriage counselling services offer the opportunity to speak to a professional counsellor about the difficulties and challenges you are facing in your relationship right now.
To find out more freephone 0808 802 0050 or complete an online enquiry.