Jun 062017 0 Responses

When You Can’t Spend Time with Your Spouse

One of the most common questions I receive when doing marriage conferences is about husbands and wives spending time together. The importance of both quantity and quality time between spouses cannot be minimized. Time is integral to a healthy relationship.

Yet there are scenarios in which couples struggle to find time for one another. He works nights and she works days. One of them travels for work. The demands of careers, raising children, and caring for a sick parent zaps all energy.

While it’s not the norm, there are many situations which can put a time squeeze on a husband and wife. When that is the case, consider these three things.

First, evaluate the schedule in black and white. Most couples assume they don’t have any time to spend together but when they truly look at how they are spending time, there are minutes to give. By keeping track of how every five-minute increment is spent during the week, it allows a couple to evaluate their time. In most cases, a couple can find time for one another. Maybe they can meet for lunch or connect after taking the kids to school. Rather than going separate directions when they first get home, they can meet in the kitchen as they prepare dinner. Many couples miss an opportunity to connect with one another in the stands as they watch their kids play a game. Instead of focusing on the game, use the time to focus on one another by having a real conversation. (See: How to Spend More Time Together)

Second, own your time and make changes. When most couples say, “we can’t spend time together,” what they are actually saying is “we don’t want to spend time together.” While they might love each other, they love spending time with friends, at work, and on the ball field more. They have improperly prioritized their lives. In the short-term, they might not feel any negative effects, but in the long run, their mixed up priorities will be costly. If you are too busy to spend time with your spouse, you are probably too busy. Changes need to be made. Limit the number of extra-curricular activities you allow your child to participate in. Drop a volunteer position. Skip a meeting or game in order to spend time with each other.

If the issue is work schedule, evaluate the possibility of one or both of you changing jobs. I realize it’s a suggestion which comes from privilege–many people can’t just change jobs–yet people who read this website have some flexibility in what they do. I’d rather make less money, but see my wife than make more money and risk the relationship.

Third, get creative. There are seasons in which a couple deeply loves one another but life’s circumstances do not allow them to spend quality time together. During these times, a couple must get creative. They have to find a way to feel emotionally connected even though they are not physically present. Calling and texting can help the connection. Knowing how our spouse is spending their day and then praying for them about various situations can be helpful.

A useful technique for those traveling with work or couples who work opposite schedules (one day and one night) is to create a routine. Consider a situation where the wife works days and the husband works nights. They should get a book and notebook for the nightstand. Each night before going to bed, the wife should read a small section of the book and write a paragraph in the notebook. Her words shouldn’t just be route notes from the book but should be a reflection on what she has read in light of their relationship. Then that next morning, before the husband goes to sleep, he can read the same section of the book, his wife’s notes, and then leave his own comments. This routine creates a shared experience where they are connecting with one another emotionally even though they can’t see each other physically. (If you need a book, start with Friends, Partners, & Lovers)

Different seasons bring different challenges. In most cases, the inability to spend a good amount of time together is seasonal. When a little time passes, a husband and wife will be able to be together more. They simply have to endure the season.

Yet we can’t ignore difficult times assuming they will pass. We must take intentional steps to make the best of whatever season we are in. In nearly every case, we have more time than we realize. While some couples have to work harder than others to spend time together, every couple must recognize the importance of shared time for the sake of the relationship.

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