“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
How much of your day do you think you spend in communication with others? Most people don’t realize that the average adult spends 70% of their time communicating with other people. When you remove the amount of time spent sleeping, this is a staggering amount of your waking hours. With almost a constant exchange of communication, sometimes we can fall victim to not devoting the time and effort necessary to maintain effective, positive, and
healthy communication with our spouse. Our usual communication is filled with a lot of informational and cursory interaction, but informational communication and cursory interactions cannot fulfill the emotional needs of yourself and your spouse. This is why it’s important in a relationship to set aside time and effort to create a space for honest and meaningful conversation. Sometimes “How was your day?” over dinner and under the sound of the evening news just isn’t enough.
Slipping into patterns is a natural human behavior. In our relationship, we need to make sure those habits do not create a void of intimacy—that we don’t fall into patterns of formality and distance. Just like a leaky faucet, if you don’t make time to maintain and fix intimacy in your relationship, you allow the union to fill with a gulf of emotional distance.
There are many kinds of intimacy in a relationship and not all kinds of intimacy are emphasized. Part of making time for your spouse is working with them to develop intimacy in areas such as parenting, social lives, recreation and hobbies, and even finances. Lasting relationships are supported by two people who are friends, share similar financial goals, and continue to feel attracted and drawn to their spouse. If sharing similar goals is a foundation stone of relationship, then making time to create intimacy to discuss finances, vacations, careers, and parenting ideas is an important key to a relationship that continues to fulfill both your needs.
Another trap created from the daily grind of the work schedule and family time is the ebbing of that romantic spark. Every flame will sputter and flicker from time to time, but in relationship, it’s vital that you never allow the fire to be extinguished. An easy way to keep the flame of romance alive is to find time to play. Household chores and the latest memo from your boss doesn’t leave a lot of time for levity. Levity and flirtation with your spouse is a necessary part of the romantic experience. Revive an old inside joke from your early days together. Find a way to brighten the monotonous grays that dull our days. Inject humor and color in the mundane. When you can introduce a playful spirit, then finding the time to have a romantic evening or moment comes naturally. The best way to fight any awkward feelings of trying to “force romance” is to make it light and playful. Flirting and a playful spirit are incubators of romance and love—it’s where you stood when you first started dating each other, so why can’t you use that in relationship?
It’s also important to be honest and share your romantic notes in a positive way with your mate. Honesty reciprocates honesty in a healthy relationship. By sharing what you want, you encourage the same from your spouse. When your spouse listens to your feelings and needs, you express and fulfill your own wants and needs. You end up activating a natural endorphin-rush in your mind as a result of loving reciprocation. Finally, when you take time for romance, it’s important to express appreciation of your partner’s efforts, be they mountains or mole hills. Earnest gratitude is a bridge to emotional openness and intimacy. By taking time from your schedule as a couple to allow romance to flourish, you are maintaining a healthy foundation for your relationship.
So, how can you find time for intimacy and romance in your busy schedules? If you cannot seem to find time for yourselves in a crazy, fast-paced modern life, how can you even think about romance and intimacy? he simplest and most repeatable advice I’ve ever received is to always plan something in advance. A weekly retreat for you and your spouse that you can share together. Having something to look forward to as a couple will strengthen your emotional connection. It fortifies intimacy. Spontaneity can be magical, but often times in a relationship between two busy people, it can be unrealistic and even stressful. Springing a date night may interfere with your spouses plans and schedule for the week—thereby creating even more stress. Instead, find time together to regularly plan a simple retreat. Retreat does not mean running off somewhere all the time, instead think of a retreat as an elimination of distractions. It could simply be eating dinner together without the kids, without the TV, allowing you time to just be together, Be a couple. It’s during these times that you can work on sharing intimacy together and kindling romance.
The first stepping stone to improving your relationship is putting forth a regular effort to create meaningful time together. Put the first foot forward and carve out time with your spouse, create a safe space and a safe time to build on the positive things your relationship brings – be it support, empathy, and honest intimacy. And most importantly remember that “if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”