Let the real dreaming begin ...
You get married thinking now you would be together all of the time.
You expected to have dinner together every evening, and that the weekends would consist of dates, shopping and other fun activities together. Then life happened, and now you find that the time spent commuting, parenting, taking kids to activities, helping with homework, volunteer responsibilities in addition to basic work and family obligations eat up all of your available time, and it's rare for the two of you to have a few moments together.
Although you are now both so busy you hardly have time to even think about your relationship, when you do, you recognize the two of you are drifting further and further apart.
Not to worry. Here are 9 steps to get your relationship back on track and once again experience the closeness you both crave.
1. Decide what you each want most.
Take some time to think through and even jot down some notes that spell out what you want.
- Is it more time together?
- Do you want more dates?
- Do you want some weekends apart from the kids?
- Do you want more quiet time just for the two of you?
Determine exactly what you want, spell it out and be clear regarding what you miss and what you want to make a regular part of your relationship.
2. Discuss and set priorities as a team.
Once you know what you want, it's time to talk to your partner about it. Find out if she is also missing some of the things you miss.Ask her to think about your relationship and how she would like to see it change.
Collaborate together, dream a little. Come up with a profile of how you want things to be, of a working relationship that has all of the components that would make it satisfying and fulfilling to both of you and keep it realistic. Prioritize which thing you want to incorporate first.
3. Determine what has to go.
It is now time to examine all of the activities, projects and involvements that take your time and fill up your days, weeks, months and year. If your life is going to change, then some things will have to go. To get your relationship back on track so it is growing and healthy may mean that you have to be ruthless in what you cut out of your lives.
Some things you choose to cut may take time to eliminate. If you have made promises to others that must be fulfilled, live up to what you have promised, but promise no more.
4. Hold each other accountable for actualizing the changes.
The process of change could be challenging and difficult for one or both of you. It may be hard to let go of an activity or responsibility that feeds you, strokes your ego, and provides you with access to many friends that you might otherwise not have time to be with. Remind each other you are making changes for the greater good and the pay off will be far worth it.
5. Be a source of encouragement for each other.
Hold each other accountable for the changes you have decided to make. You want to delete some activities from your life and this will take work. You also want to add some together time and activities to your life and this will take discipline and work as well.
Encourage each other as you begin to see change happen. Let her know that it is worth the payoff. You know she can do it, and you appreciate her effort at change.
6. Celebrate even the most minor victories together.
Every time you experience a victory in your quest to build a stronger bond together, celebrate it. High fives and hugs are in order.
Fix a favorite meal and share it together, go to your favorite restaurant, enjoy your favorite drink — just do something, and do it together in honor and celebration of movement in the right direction.
7. Don’t let the setbacks discourage you.
Making major changes in life is hard work. People are genuinely creatures of habit, and it is much easier to return to old habits than to make new ones. You may find that each of you has fallen back into an old habit, and it happened before you even thought about it. Someone made a request for a huge chunk of your life, and you said yes before you realized it was an activity that was on the chopping block.
Don’t despair if you can’t get out of it. Do better the next time.
8. Enjoy your new life together.
As time passes and you both recognize that you have made real changes in your relationship — enjoy! Make full use of the newfound time and freedom.
Even if it is minimal, it's more of what you want and you've worked hard for it, so enjoy every minute!
9. Work together to avoid backsliding.
As mentioned before, we can easily return to old habits before we even know it has happened. Be both accountable to and encouragers of each other to protect the gains you have made in time and activity together.
Keep the priority on your relationship, because if you don’t, there are plenty of other people and projects competing to fill up your life.
Dr. David McFadden is a couple’s counselor at Village Counseling Center. Receive your free copy of the Better Life Magazine filled with articles with topics from taking good care of yourself, resolving conflicts in your relationship and discovering how to have success in your life.