Last week my husband had big project deadlines at work going on almost every single day, plus had to work late for three evenings. We knew it was going to be a stressful week and so we put in extra effort to communicate our needs, our plans and to offer extra support when needed. Extra e-mails, phone calls and a run down of the day’s plans before my husband walked out the door is what got us through.
At the end of the week I felt triumphant. We had made it and it went more smoothly than I could have imagined. Plus, we spent the weekend reconnecting with each other and our son through long talks, a trip to get frozen yogurt and watching football. It was a great reward!
Truth be told, we aren’t always this good at staying connected. This time it worked because we knew in advance that it was going to be a tough week. But what about when the drifting apart happens slowly and isn’t noticeable at first? When Adam and I start feeling distant it’s usually because one or both of us falls into the trap of getting consumed by work, our child, house chores or a host of other commitments and responsibilities. The end result isn’t pretty (just ask my husband). These moments usually remind us that we need to take a step back and spend some time focusing on each other.
Of course the trick is to do this before a couple starts to feel like they’re running in two different directions. While we’re definitely not perfect at it, we’re thankfully becoming better and better at it, thus avoiding meltdowns where one of us feels forgotten or taken advantage of.
What works for us:
- Schedule a monthly date night. This takes on various shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s dinner out. Other times it’s just getting coffee and browsing a bookstore. We’re on a budget, so it can’t be too fancy or elaborate. We often use a Groupon or Living Social deal to help save money.
- Start the week by asking your significant other: “What do you need from me this week?” I will admit that some weeks we forget to ask this question, but when we do, the week is so much easier! Maybe it’s that Adam really needs me to make sure I have his lunches packed and ready to go in the morning, or to make sure a specific pair of his pants are clean. Maybe it’s that I need him to take our son out of the house for an hour so I can get something done, or need him to change a light bulb that I can’t reach. Communicating these needs lets each of us know that we’re thinking of the other and putting that person’s needs first.
- Over-communicate during the day. Chances are you can never over-communicate. But by trying to do so, you’ll probably land in the realm of actually communicating. We try to find time throughout the day to touch base through e-mails, phone calls, and texts, even if it’s just to ask how each other’s day is going. Starting and ending the day going over the day’s events is also a great way to stay involved in each other’s “separate” lives. One of the best times for Adam and I to discuss the day is during supper each night.
- Turn off the screens and have fun together! So I know many couples have favorite shows they like to watch together and it’s like an event each week (we do that with Sunday night football). However, we don’t watch TV just because. Instead, we try to spend that time playing games, going on walks, visiting friends or just talking about future plans. It’s not just the TV, either. We’ve recently tried putting a curfew on internet use in the evening (some nights we’re more successful than others) as we found that it can be time-consuming and distracts us from each other.
What do you do to reconnect with your significant other? Do you find it hard or easy to do?