It was the end of a long day, and all I wanted to do was relax for a little bit before I went to bed. I wanted to be ready for another doozy of a day. My husband had been out of town all week which left me on my own with the kids, and I was tired. Then, the phone rang…
I wanted to say, “Hey Hun, I’m tired. Can we just catch up for 5 minutes?” Instead, I decided to muster up my last bit of selflessness in order to avoid sending the message of, “We’re doing just fine here without you. You don’t really matter. I don’t really need you or want you to be part of this day.” A message that was far from the truth. Although I’m sure he would have understood my being tired, it is important that he knows that I love him. It is important he knows I will put him first even when it’s difficult. So, we talked…and talked….and talked. When we finally hung up, I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe an hour had passed. I was still tired (and now had no “me” time to tune out the world and relax), but I was happy. I felt more connected to him, and it made me feel less alone. It reminded me of when we were dating and could talk for hours about seemingly nothing. Our conversation was meaningful even though I can’t tell you exactly what we talked about. We were just happy being together, talking to each other.
When life gets busy, it’s difficult to stay in communication with your significant other. But it is SO important! Communication builds intimacy and decreases frustration. There are 3 things that have helped my husband and I stay connected when the world seems to be spinning in every direction.
- Calendars! If you ask me what I’m doing tomorrow, I have to grab my phone. As much as I dislike being dependent on the calendar app, it is immeasurably helpful to have our calendars on hand at all times and synced. For us, everything is color coded by person so that we can see: what I’m doing, what he’s doing, and what we’re doing together. Since I’m the main activity planner, it’s helpful for me to see his events so I don’t unintentionally over-book him, and he can see what I might need help with. Calendars also help us talk about what’s to come. For us, this game-plan meeting typically occurs on Sundays. We have a really quick conversation, calendars in hand, about what’s planned for the week. This way we can generally prepare for what is ahead and spot problem areas before they happen.
- Text messages! My husband always texts me when he is on his way home. That gives me a 30 minute window to accomplish anything I need to do in order to help with that transition. Sometimes nothing needs to happen, but it’s nice to know when help is on the way! When it’s been a rough day, I try to give him a heads up–even if it feels like “one more thing” to shoot him a text message. That way, he doesn’t make a joke that sets me off or takes 25 minutes to change his clothes upstairs while I continue to battle-it-out solo. Because hey, if I don’t tell him, it’s not fair to expect him to know.
- Communicate even when you don’t want to! Sometimes I want to talk and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes my husband wants to talk and sometimes he doesn’t. It’s tough to listen and give feedback when you just want to rest, but it’s so important. I have come to find that life seems to be about figuring out that it’s not about you all the time. Keeping up healthy communication with the person you love is definitely not all about you, yet it is so worth it. The more you talk and listen, really listen, the more intimately connected you feel. It’s the basis of every relationship, and no one wants a shaky foundation.
Admittedly, when my husband called I was ready to tune out the world and get some “me” time, but it was clear that he needed to talk and to connect. It took some persistence on his end to keep the conversation going at the beginning, but his persistence helped me realize that he needed me to make him a priority in that moment. I have come to learn (and am still learning) that relationships are not static. You’re always growing one way or the other. So don’t be afraid to ask yourself hard questions like, “Do your communication skills help you and your significant other or friend grow closer together or push you two apart? What are some ways I can communicate my love more clearly?” You might be surprised as to how much little changes can make a big difference.