Making Time to Be with Your Spouse
The Spice Rack
A great way to eliminate arguments over what you want to do is for each of you to write down three places you would like to go on three separate pieces of paper. Pick one out of a hat and go for it!
Time, like money, needs to be managed. It's very easy to spend a surprising amount of money on small things like coffee, soda, or a quick lunch with your colleagues at work. At the end of the month, you feel like you don't have money left over for things that are fun. And yet, you didn't enjoy the extra money you spent either. If you knew you were saving for something that you would enjoy in the future, you might get more pleasure from not buying the coffee than from buying it. Having goals and looking forward to them can be enjoyable.
The same thing is true of your time together. If the two of you set aside time every week to have fun, you would always have something to look forward to. And if you also set aside time every week to discuss important issues, you would feel confident that you would always have time to work things out.
Don't think that watching TV with your spouse counts as spending time together. People spend an average of three hours a day watching TV. You'll have a better marriage if you watch less TV and spend more quality time with your spouse.
It's as Easy as One, Two, Three
When you share your life with somebody, there are countless decisions to make. Some are small, such as what time to make dinner reservations on Saturday night, and other decisions are complicated, like making the annual budget or planning a vacation. By setting aside planning time, you ensure that you will have time to make joint decisions and will free up other time you spend together to just enjoy yourselves.
Every good, healthy marriage needs time set aside for three general activities. These need to be scheduled on a regular basis and be treated with respect:
- Time for planning.
- Time for resolving differences.
- Time for fun.
Most couples do not plan for these activities and end up being frustrated. All of these different times serve different purposes, and each is equally important. If you don't make time for each of these important activities, it will interfere with your relationship.
For instance, if your spouse is doing something that is bothering you, it's important to discuss it. It might be a small thing, but if you don't have a chance to talk about it, your feelings of annoyance will build up. You will probably find that you are arguing more and are not enjoying your time together as much. Ensuring that you will be there to listen to each other is half of the battle.
Your New Weekly Time Planner
Your conflicts won't get in the way of your day-to-day relationship if you put aside time every week to discuss important issues.
Don't take your appointments with your spouse lightly. A meeting is a meeting whether it's with your spouse or with your lawyer.
Look at your “Where Does the Time Go?” chart again. How much time do you think you need to discuss issues each week? Most couples need about 30 minutes a week for planning activities and 30 minutes for conflict resolution. Now reorganize the hours you spend with your spouse every week. Set aside a 30-minute session for planning, a 30-minute session for conflict resolution, and a full evening or afternoon for fun time. If you reorganize the time you spend with your spouse, you will be amazed at how much it adds to your marriage.
When scheduling time together, keep in mind the following:
- Make sure the times are convenient for both of you.
- Be sure to reschedule your time together if one of you needs to work late or is going out of town.
- If you have an especially complicated issue to discuss, set aside extra time to resolve it.
- It can be useful to mark these appointments on the household calendar or in your personal organizer.
- Each appointment requires each of you to give your undivided attention.
More on: Marriage and Divorce
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Marriage © 2001 by Hilary Rich and Helaina Laks Kravitz, M.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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