Relationship survival tips for over-committed and busy couples.
Are you a constant YES person? That could be a reason why your marriage may be failing.
Being agreeable, cooperative and helpful are admirable qualities. Who doesn't appreciate it when another person steps up and lends a hand? Most of us try to be that kind of person, and so we say "yes" to most everything we're asked to do.
Maybe you do this too:
- Your boss approaches you at 5 minutes until 5 PM with a huge folder of paperwork and a desperate look in her eye. You say, "YES, I'll stay late and take care of that."
- Your buddy got in over his head on a DIY home repair project and asks you to lend a hand. You've been in a similar spot before, so you say, "YES, I'll be right over."
- Nobody has volunteered to organize the annual carnival at your kid's school. The principal calls to see if you'll take this on and you say, "YES, I will."
These YES moments add to what you've already got going on. They pile on top of your already extra long to-do list, but you don't want to let anyone down. There's only so much of you to go around so you shuffle your activities and plans to make room for these new commitments.
What usually happens now? You unintentionally shuffle your marriage's needs straight to the bottom of the list. You assume your spouse will understand and will be there when things settle down. Your partner probably does understand because the same thing may be going on in their life as well.
The trouble is, things never completely settle down because your always saying "YES" to everything except your relationship.
In the meantime, you and your partner only go on date nights sporadically (if at all) and when you do have a spare moment, you're both so exhausted, overloaded and fried, the best you can do is to stare numbly at the TV together.
This cannot sustain if your marriage is going to thrive.
When you don't make your relationship a top priority, it's going to suffer—and you'll suffer along with it. As a couple, you're more likely to encounter misunderstandings, unresolvable arguments, jealousy, dwindling intimacy and maybe even separation or divorce.
You've made your relationship just about the least important thing in your life and this can feel like rejection to your partner (even if he or she is just as busy as you are).
You've got career goals, personal interests and a desire to be of service to your friends, family and your community, but we encourage you to ask yourself if having a healthy, happy and close marriage is also a priority for you. Be honest with yourself. If it is, then it's time to start saying "YES" to your marriage. Keep reading...
Here's how to begin:
Understand why you over-commit.
It's easy for us to tell you to just change and to stop putting your marriage last on your list in order to make more quality time for your partner. But that's really not going to work!
Many of us realize what we do and we sometimes even criticize and feel bad about ourselves, but we still don't do anything differently. Our relationship continues to starve and suffer.
Sit down and really think about your usual habits. When you get a call from your friend or a request from your boss or from someone else, what goes inside of you? What are your dominant thoughts?
For most of us, there's a fear of disappointing the other person or possibly even making him or her mad enough to punish or abandon us. Behind the impulse to please is a fear of what will happen if we say "No."
With kindness, try to understand what's behind your tendency to over-commit and learn from it. There could be a need of healing dealing with past experiences when you said "No."
Pause and count to 5.
Practice pausing before you say anything when you get a text, call or face-to-face request. If all you do is say to the other person,
"Please give me a moment," and then breathe and slowly count to 5, the intensity of your impulse will start to subside. You'll be freer to think about what you already have going on and whether or not this is something you really want and are able to do.
To pause may feel uncomfortable to you, so be prepared for that. The other person may misinterpret or feel put off when you respond differently than you usually do. If you choose, tell him or her that, "I'm practicing something new here so please be patient with me. I care about you and your request and want to be sure I am answering you with integrity."
Say "YES" to your marriage.
What you'll find is when you remind yourself to only say "yes" when you can do so with integrity, it's not such a struggle to bump your marriage back up to the top of your priority list. You don't have to give up your personal or career dreams either.
Talk with your spouse and come up with some doable (and enjoyable) agreements for how you two can regularly nourish your relationship. Get creative about this and be willing to re-commit to spending quality time together along the way.
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