Your life is full of commitments clamoring for your attention: work, bills, more work, kids, more work, chores and even more work. It’s easy for your partner to get lost in the shuffle.
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He or she understands how busy you are (you reason) and knows how much your relationship means to you. Unlike the kids, he or she is an adult and can handle a little distance. This may work for a few days, but an entire week of being taken for granted takes its toll on a relationship.
How can you connect to your partner and show how much your mutual love means in a week when you barely have time to buy groceries? Keep reading.
Schedule Intentional Couple Time
When you think about scheduling time with your partner, you probably think about a full-on date night… but you don’t have time for a date night this week! How could you possibly fit couple time into this busy week?
Relax. While a date night is best if you have time for it, you don’t need an hour; you just need 10 minutes. Find time during the day when neither of you have specific plans, right after dinner, maybe, just after your partner comes home, or right before bed, and carve out 10 minutes to spend with each other.
Turn off your phones and the TV, keep your computers and tablets out of reach and cuddle on the couch. Don’t worry if you’re so burned out that you can’t think of anything about which to talk; if all you do in those five minutes is snuggle, they’re five minutes well spent.
If you do talk and you find that the conversation keeps drifting to the businesslike side of your marriage, i.e., you keep talking about the kids or budgeting for instance, you may want to set ground rules like “no talking about subject X during couples time.”
Ask Meaningful Questions
Asking, “How was your day?” works for some couples, but it can encourage overly simple answers that would make a teenager proud (“OK. Yours?”), or 20-minute monologues that make you tune out halfway through.
If “How was your day?” isn’t leading to a meaningful conversation with your spouse, it may be because the opening question itself isn’t meaningful. Instead, try a more meaningful question such as “How are things going with that project? Any new challenges?”; “What was the most interesting thing you did today?”; “What’s the best and worst thing that happened to you today?”; “How are you feeling about that thing that was upsetting you yesterday?”
Some of these are simply more in-depth and thought provoking than “How was your day?” and others ask your partner about specific challenges in his or her life and show you’ve been listening. Any of them are a massive improvement over the same vague conversation opener.
Listen, Don’t Advise
When you’re talking to your partner, listen with your whole mind and heart. Lean forward and make eye contact to show interest. Ask questions to clarify what he or she is saying and use “reflecting” phrases such as “It sounds like you feel really overwhelmed.”
However, unless your partner asks for advice, try not to give it. You’ve probably already heard that giving advice can make someone feel invalidated or insulted if they just want to vent, which is true; an overly simple piece of advice can be grating to someone who’s already tried that tactic with no results.
However, relationship coach Cheryl Lazarus points out a lesser-known pitfall of advice: If you’re trying to advise your partner, you’re only half-listening because the other part of your brain is working to come up with a solution.
Text And Email
All this advice about conversation may seem like a lot when you only have 10 minutes to talk every day; however, those 10 minutes don’t have to be the only time you let your partner know how much you love him or her.
No matter how busy you are, you almost certainly have time to send a quick text, email or social media message from work. Sending a simple “I love you” or emailing a link that you know will make your partner smile can let him or her know that you’re thinking of them, even if you’re away.