What do you do when you find that your relationship is coming second to your life? From a couple who is married and owns a business together we wanted to share some tips of how we make sure our relationship comes first - because ultimately that is the foundation upon which everything else grows.
1. Quality Time (When you don’t have quantity time)
When you’re both busy time is valuable. Sitting around and watching movies isn’t necessarily quality time. It’s important that you’re making special time to connect when you haven’t had alone time in a long time. Below are a few of our tips for this:
• Planning. It sounds silly but if you’ve both been working 10-12 hours and haven't made a plan, a fight is bound to happen. What to make for dinner, making dinner, and wasting time figuring out what to do all generally leads to old habits and patterns, and this probably doesn’t equal quality time. Quality time takes planning. Communicate a day in advance and talk about what your day is going to be like, or your week, or your month. Then create a plan to eliminate wasted time. Schedule in special events, couples massages, dinner reservations, baby sitters, hotel rooms, etc. Plan as much as you can. Allow yourself to be flexible and understanding, because things don’t always work out that way, but you’re so much more likely to get what you want if you plan it out.
• Separate chat threads. As a couple you wear many hats - potentially parents, business partners, house mates, friends, and lovers. If all these conversations are in one thread then the energy/tone from one hat spills into another. If you’re spending the majority of the day talking about the kids or the business or the housework, then are you making time to flirt? You absolutely should!!
• Spend one day a month completely involved with each other. Send the kids away and give each other attention for the full day. Bathe each other, feed each other, give each other massages, be intimate, talk, ask questions about who they are as a person, just be.
2. Not Comparing
You can get a pretty skewed view of how relationships can look through social media. No one is posting the ugly parts of a relationship (the fights, the messy house, or the stresses). This view of relationships isn’t real, and while our logical brain knows this, the images we take in and the stories we affirm to these images overrides logic.
If a couple is going through a challenging time in their relationship DO NOT COMPARE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA OR OTHER PEOPLE. We tell ourselves that this perfect looking couple never fights, never disagrees, never gets jealous. If you’re constantly on the go, and meeting a lot of people you may be lured by what I call the sparkle phase of a relationship. You’re at a casual business meeting and you meet someone. The other person finds you so attractive and thinks everything you say is great. They don’t see your flaws and you don’t see theirs. Everything seems perfect and sparkly. And you think, this is so much easier and better than what I’ve got. But it’s not real. This eventually fades away with every relationship.
When you find someone you love and are willing to be vulnerable with them, and show them all your ugly parts, all your fears and shame, and they show you theirs, and you still think this person is perfect then that is the real sparkly part. Everyone comes with baggage and every relationship needs love and attention (or what other people may call work). The grass is always greener where you water it. In our experience the love and attraction that comes from knowing someone deeper and deeper is stronger than the illusion of something else.
3. Asking What Your Partner Needs Often
When you’re a fast paced person it’s common that you change just as fast. Just because you know what your partner needs now, doesn’t mean that they won’t need something different a week from now.
These are some ways we communicate to each other:
• We ask. It sounds silly and simple but regularly asking what your partner needs is important. Similarly, it’s equally important to ask for what you need. Never assume your partner knows.
• Listen carefully to what your partner is and isn’t saying. Some sources say that 70% of all things communicated are misconstrued. Make sure your partner actually feels heard and then act on what he/she has said.
• Actions speak volumes. What’s the point of learning what your partners needs are if you don’t act on it. Sometimes (many times) giving your partner what they need is outside of your regular routine, but if you genuinely care then you’ll make the time and space to provide. As an example, when I come home I often unwind by watching a show or checking social media. One of my partners love languages is quality time, so if I come home and check out as a way to relax, his needs aren’t met. Watching tv or checking Instagram are not vital parts of my day, it’s just habit. So while it’s hard at first to not fall into old patterns, the reward (ie: my partners happiness) is so much greater.
4. Love Languages
We believe very strongly in what Dr Gary Chapman calls the love languages. Dr Chapman counselled couples for decades and found that he could boil down how people want to receive and give love into 5 categories. Why is this important to us? Because if how you are loving your partner is not how they desire/need to be loved, then they will always feel unloved...no matter how hard you try. This consistently is something we come back to in our relationship and is a compass for how we express love to one another. That being said, even though we have found our love languages (and referring back to point number 3 in this article) we review them here and again to make sure that they are still the same.
The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation. According to Dr. Chapman, this language uses words to affirm other people. ...
- Quality time. This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention. ...
- Receiving gifts. ...
- Acts of service. ...
- Physical touch.
You can find Love Languages at any major bookstore or on amazon.
5. Making Sure You’re Taking Care of Yourself
When you’re a busy couple you don’t have the luxury of time. If the majority of the time you spend with your partner is working through the kinks of your relationship, then where is the fun? Our partner is our mirror, and if we’re not doing the work on ourselves (insecurities, judgments, expectations, etc) then it WILL show up with your partner. When you have a regular self care/self awareness practice you’ll work through the majority of your own stuff, and then you can spend more time in love with your partner. Now, self care doesn’t always look like manicures or more sleep. In fact, in my experiences that’s a very small part of it. Taking care of yourself is giving yourself what you need - that is not the job of your partner. This means giving yourself attention, giving yourself compliments, being tough on yourself when you need to be - basically being all around responsible for how you feel, think and act.
• 10 minutes a day in meditation
• Journal when you don’t feel good - start to find patterns in your behaviour so that you can change
• When you feel a certain insecurity or the like when you’re around your partner, you can save a lot of time by giving up the passive aggressive behaviours and just be honest with how you’re feeling. I tell my husband if I'm in a quiet mood it’s because of a certain reason. He responds with love and attention and I have the space to work through it. Old me would have been silent, moody, even bitchy and then eventually have told the real reason I was upset. Again, it saves so much time to genuinely express how you’re feeling from your heart without energy behind it.
• And hey, you don’t need to take everything personally. If you’re being triggered, be responsible and own your feelings. Don’t always put it on the other person.
We hope that this helps. All human beings are reflections for one another. How beautiful a thing it is that we have found one person to share our experience with. When you don’t have a lot of time together, make it count.
Drew & Sarah xo
*Drew and Sarah own Temple23, a spiritual healing and meditation centre in Winnipeg.