Make Time for Your Marriage
by Adair Lara
Couples' need for time together ebbs and flows over their lifetime. They go from being preoccupied with relationships when they're young, to being preoccupied with kids and career, to finding themselves alone with each other again, and interested once again in the couple relationship.
Whatever the problems are, the couple needs to find ways to connect with each other again. But faced with late nights at the office, parent-teacher conferences and 3 a.m. feedings, is this an impossible task?
Not so, say many relationship experts. In fact, it may be easier than you think to find quality time with your spouse. Here are some guidelines:
1. Find out what each of you expects.
Norman Epstein, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland, recommends that the two of you go into separate rooms and each write down his or her idea of spending quality time with their partner. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Then you can share it.
2. Tell your partner specifically what you want.
"Don't say, 'I want you to be more loving to me,'" cautions Karen Prager, who teaches in the psychology department at the University of Texas. "Talk about how many nights a week, and for how long, and what exactly you want your partner to do."
Lonnie Barbach, a psychologist at U.C. San Francisco medical school and author of Turn Ons, says that a specific request might sound like this: "I want to spend 48 hours of this weekend with you. Phone calls are off limits. I don't want to plan any other activities. I want us to pretend we're out of town."
3. Pencil each other in
Make dates with each other at the beginning of the week — to have lunch, to hang out on Saturday mornings, to have a drink. Regard these appointments as unbreakable, as you would a business obligation.
"People see their relationship as endlessly flexible and accommodating, and the time devoted to it elective, while a career's demands are seen as fixed and beyond one's control," says Barbach.
"If you have these periods of time, you're able to look forward to being together, as you did during your courtship. You can plan around them, and make sure you will have energy to devote to them as you would for anything else that was important to you."