Married life is chaotic sometimes. Some weeks it may feel like you give maximum effort for your marriage and only receive exhaustion in return. Busyness is a way of life for many couples and those who routinely lack time together find it especially challenging to connect well. You may feel like you have “communication problems” when actually your schedule is the problem.
When you feel disconnected check your schedule first. Unfortunately, it’s common for couples to only have a few hours together each week.
Most often, work schedules limit time together in marriage. For example, one partner works a day shift and the other works a swing or graveyard shift. Other work schedules include out of town travel where at least one partner is out of town for several days at a time.
Other times schedule problems have nothing to do with work but other obligations like taking care of kids, church meetings, time with friends, or sports practices. Most commitments are good things for good reasons but they can lead to marriage difficulties due to lack of time together.
Sometimes when couples come into my office for counseling it’s the only time they have had together in a week.
When your schedule is maxed and your connection is stressed, follow these six marriage essentials to make some wonderful in your marriage.
- Clarify what time you have. Only having a vague idea of how your schedules align is disastrous. Take a few minutes to go over the details of your schedule together; highlight the time you will have together this week.
- Identify the duration. Having a week with a lot of extra commitments or a week when one partner is traveling for work, is much different than long-term schedule difficulties. Understanding the current relationship time crunch is only temporary could make all the difference.
- Plan ahead. When you don’t have much time together, eliminate distractions by getting things done ahead of time. Connecting with your spouse is more likely if the dishes are already done.
- Be intentional. It’s especially important when you have limited time together to make the most of the time you have. When time is short, quality matters. Intentionally do things that promote connection. For example: go for a run together or simply snuggle, hold hands and kiss.
- Don’t skip sex. Consistent sex is a major source of intimate connection for married couples. It can be difficult to find adequate emotional and physical energy for sex when life is super stressful, commit to it anyway.
- Adjust as necessary. Reevaluating what is working and what is not working is critical to the success of your relationship. Occasionally weigh the pros and cons of your current schedule. Sure, work and other commitments are important, but if they are killing your relationship, it’s probably time to adjust.
When you have greatly limited time, each interaction intensifies. That intensity can burn relationships quickly. When the relational value of each minute is constricted, misinterpretation is commonplace because there is less time to clarify what you meant. Hurts take longer to address and heal when you have no time together. Smoldering hurt in marriage is destructive; raging arguments result when there is no time to tend to emotional miss-connections.
Ultimately, you have to spend some time together to build a relationship. When your time is extra limited, your marriage can still thrive. It will take extra effort but many couples have used time constraints to gain increased focus on what really matters, each other.
What would you add? What has worked for your marriage when you had no time?