Quality Time in a Busy World
Everyone’s busy nowadays. Long work hours, long commutes, working out at the gym, volunteer commitments, home repair projects…. It can seem like there is a conspiracy out there to soak up every free hour of the week.
When we experience this time stress it can be hard to keep priorities in order. We spend less attention on ourselves and our relationships. We do this despite the fact that investing our time in this stuff is exactly what will bring us relief from stressful times.
If you or your partner is feeling the absence of quality time from your lives, it’s time to speak up. Communicate your desire to spend more time with one another and to keep “together-time” a priority. Talking about things calmly helps. Nagging doesn’t – although it may be necessary to be persistent if the issues are going to be addressed. Combining persistence with compassion for one another helps. Try to listen for ways you can support one another.
A place to start is to take a look at whether something has changed (a crisis at work, for instance) or if the problem has been there all along. Some stressors are time limited and require being patient and understanding with each other or re-examining what has worked in the past. A friend of mine told his lover, “It’s OK that you’re traveling so much right now. I know you can’t help it. Just bring me some jewelry when you come home.” The joking helped the couple get through an unavoidable stress – and also let the traveling spouse know he better let my friend know he’s still special.
If the problem is chronic, it may be time to examine habits and priorities. Try to look at what you each want. What do you need? What does your partner need? What are your expectations of one another? What does time well-spent together look like for each of you? Entering into the conversation without having an ax to grind will help. Try to listen for your partner’s point of view while also expressing yourself.
What do the two of you value about being a couple? What’s core stuff for the two of you? Listening to your partner can help each of you understand how you value the other and your relationship. Before sitting down with your partner, you might want to make a mental list of the reasons you long to spend more time with him.
The purpose isn’t to guilt trip your lover or make him defensive; it’s to help him understand that you value him and want more time with him.
Consider turning off the television. Too many of us have the TV on as a matter of habit; if you and your partner aren’t spending enough time enjoying one another’s company, consider whether the two of you have use television less as genuine entertainment than out of habit.
Some couples are reluctant to schedule time together and put it in their calendar because it seems so businesslike and un-spontaneous. Without actually scheduling time together, busy people can find that their good intentions remain only intentions and not actual plans. When you were single you would plan dates ahead of time, right? Try penciling a date-night in at least once a week and see if that helps.
I have been licensed by the State of Georgia as a professional counselor for more than 25 years. My areas of specialty are relationships, intimacy, sexuality, anxiety and depression. My passion is helping people build happier lives and stronger relationships.
I know it isn’t always easy to talk about problems. My approach to counseling is nonjudgmental and compassionate. If you have questions, I welcome the opportunity to talk with you about working together.
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Whether you've worked with a therapist before or are exploring counseling for the first time, you probably have questions. It is important to have the information you need to make a good decision when selecting a therapist. I welcome your questions -- about your specific situation, about me or about my approach to therapy. Making things better can start with an email, or you can call me at (404) 874-8536.