At times life will overtake you, but it doesn’t have to swamp your relationship.
A few weeks ago, I decided that, since we’re ultra busy as a family with two separate thriving businesses to work on, it was time to get a puppy. Clearly, choosing right now to housebreak a puppy (with the work that comes with doing that properly), was the calm and rational choice.
Now, I realize that some of you have kids (maybe more than a few), jobs and businesses of your own. Sometimes it seems like there’s just not enough hours in the day for the responsibilities you do have, let alone optimizing anything.
Unfortunately, that mentality is how we get ourselves into trouble in our relationships in the first place. Our once good relationship becomes an afterthought, and one day we find ourselves coping with a breakup or a divorce.
What if, instead, you could do preventative maintenance? Here’s a few things to try to keep things running happily in your relationship:
1. Pick Up Where Your Partner Left Off
When the other person has lost the time or energy to complete something, see if you can help in some way.
For example, my husband stops everything to do the dishes, no matter who created the mess. He’s identified that a clean kitchen equals happier wife. I don’t ask or nag him to do this—he simply does it. He picks up where I leave off. When he gets super busy, I try to make sure the laundry is done for both of us because he HATES the laundry.
This sounds obvious, but it takes a little thought and observation to find out what your partner really wants versus what you think they want. Sometimes what would really make a difference for them isn’t what you’re doing. As human beings, we tend to think in terms of what we really like, and then we think that carries over to someone else. So we try too hard to meet needs they don’t actually have. Sometimes we do everything EXCEPT what would make a huge difference to the other person. Ask them what they really want, and do that. Let the other stuff fall by the wayside.
2. Let Unimportant Things Slide
Look, if we could all have our houses perfectly in order like Better Homes and Gardens photo spreads, we’d love it. But that gets pretty lonely if you don’t have someone to share it with.
Do you want a perfect house or a great relationship? Either delegate to professionals to keep the house in order, or tolerate a higher level of disorder. The way the dishwasher is loaded means NOTHING in the grand scheme of things. Let go of what doesn’t matter in favor of time together. Same goes for looking at random stuff on the internet or mindlessly channel surfing.
3. Leave Notes
A simple little note that says “I love you” scrawled on a piece of scratch paper is a bigger deal than you think. It’s not the effort, it’s the thought. Write on the bathroom mirror—anything more concrete than the standard text message.
4. Make Sure Your Partner Is Your Priority During Free Time
As an introvert, after working an 18 hour day, I know how tempting it is to brush off the other person in favor of sitting alone in a dark room. Sometimes your partner will want the same thing—a little bit of time to regroup. Or maybe they’re dying for a little social time (like my extroverted husband).
Try to find what makes them happiest during your precious downtime. If you have very different needs, negotiate a trade off. The most important thing is to make the relationship your priority (even though you’re tired).
5. Cultivate Little Rituals And Guard Them
Maybe every Sunday morning you have coffee together. Don’t forgo these little things in favor of more work, chores or anything else. Keep your togetherness rituals. No matter how small, time you use to connect is precious, and you should treat it that way.
6. Honor Your Own Needs
When we’re ultra busy, it’s so easy to let the things you’re interested in fall by the wayside. The problem is that the things we let slide first (like our hobbies, goals, meditation practice, workouts, etc.), are often what keep us the most well-adjusted and happy. Try your hardest to spend 15 minutes per day doing something that centers you. Some days you’ll skip, but try to fill yourself up so that you have more energy to give your busy life and your partner.
7. Support Their Dream
Maybe your partner is super busy, but you aren’t. It can feel like they’re neglecting you, and after awhile this can start to seem intentional. If you take this out on them, it just increases their stress levels. If they genuinely weren’t avoiding you before, they’re likely to start, since they simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with more.
That’s why if one or both of you are chasing a dream, you’ve got to understand what you’re in for and do your best show support. If you’ve chosen to date or marry someone with a high-powered career, their career is probably going to compete with you for number one for at least the foreseeable future. This is the reality.
Now, with the precious time you have left, you can either cherish them or complain. I know which one I’d appreciate more when I’m busy.
Originally appeared at YourTango.
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