We‘re busy. Long hours at work – and in a city like Atlanta, often a long commute – chores at home, time at the gym and the day-to-day grind of life...before you know it, the day is gone. Then the week is gone.
If we don’t take time for what is truly important to us, life loses its focus and direction. That’s especially true for relationships. Two busy partners can end up making everything a priority except the relationship. This is especially true when instead of holding one another accountable, the mutual busy-ness causes each to let quality time together slide. The next thing you know, one partner is working every night on his laptop while the other watches TV. The relationship reaches a standstill. And each partner feels a bit rejected by the other.
Being in the same room at the same time is not the same thing as spending time together. Quality time means paying attention to one another, doing something meaningful with each other, enjoying your partner’s company and remembering why you chose this person above all the rest. It means having fun together, whatever that means for you: taking a walk, cooking dinner, making love or taking a vacation.
You wouldn’t think it would take constant vigilance to maintain space for some of life’s greatest pleasures, but that’s the nature of existence. Here are some suggestions:
- Schedule time for fun. Plan ahead to invite others over for dinner, see a play, whatever. Waiting until the last minute to do something may seem more spontaneous, but often it leads to plans falling through, disappointment and boredom.
- Plan a vacation. Too many Americans let time off from work lapse because they were “too busy” to use the days they had earned. This is an awful thing. Plan ahead. Having something to look forward to builds anticipation and adds to the pleasure of the experience.
- Limit the ways work encroaches on your personal time. Everyone has to work long hours on occasion, but if that’s happening regularly – or if you’re in the habit of taking work home with you – consider it a problem that needs your attention.
- And spend some time apart. Experienced couples know that having a little time apart adds to the pleasure of a relationship. Time with a friend, hobby, project or activity helps keep life interesting and helps routines keep from becoming ruts.
Don’t let your relationship spend too much time on automatic pilot. If you find yourself getting a little bored, wake up and try something new.
John Ballew is a licensed professional counselor and has been in private practice in Midtown for 25 years. For more, see his website at www.bodymindsoul.org.