Your boss keeps tabs on your progress on work projects. Your children cry when they are hungry or tired. Because your partner isn’t sending you a meeting request or pulling on your shirt with a tear-stained face, you might not be giving your relationship as much attention as you’re giving other aspects of your life.
Though it may be difficult to balance all the demands on your time, your relationship with your partner can’t wait until you retire or the kids go off to college.
Here are some tips from Dr. Ann Hartlage, director of the Marital and Sex Therapy Program at Rush University Medical Center, that might help you fit intimacy into your busy life.
Schedule some time. Just as you put your work meetings and the kids’ lessons on the calendar, schedule some personal time for you and your partner.
Escape the norm. It’s good to get out of your normal surroundings, even if it’s only for a walk in the park with your partner or a trip to the museum. This way you are exposed to new stimuli and separated from all the projects around the house.
Manage your stress. If you are stressed out, it can put a strain on your relationship. You cannot eliminate stress, but you can manage how you respond to it. Find an outlet such as exercise or recreational activities.
Share your thoughts. You may find that conversations with your partner tend to focus on practical aspects of your life, such as dinner or the family budget. If that’s the case, try to spend time talking to each other about your deeper thoughts, goals, hopes and other feelings.
Figure out sustainable child care alternatives. Babysitting can get expensive. Explore cheaper methods to free up your time, such as trading child care responsibilities with another couple or setting up a regular visit for the children to spend time with a family member.
Turn off the technology. Often your cell phone or Blackberry can interrupt conversations and divert your attention from your partner. Try turning off these devices and giving your partner your full attention.
Let the kids in on your relationship. It’s healthy for children to see physical displays of affection between their parents. You should also feel comfortable telling your children when you and your partner need some time to yourselves.