My husband has been a zombie for the last few months. Aside from working six days a week, it’s always at least 10 hours, sometimes 12 hours each day. He literally stumbles home after being on his feet all day, showers, eats dinner and then falls asleep.
“All I want to do is relax and watch a movie”. He says this literally every single day. How often does it happen? Sadly, I can’t remember the last time he made it through more than 10 minutes of any television without dozing off. Most nights he’s in bed before our children, around 7:30 pm. He’s back up at 3:00 am to do it all again the following day.
My husband is finishing up his final semester of school. This year he’s doing his course online, which means that his one day off usually includes catching up on homework. Added onto this, I also started night school twice a week. I get dinner done before he gets home but he’s still in charge of facilitating clean up, baths and bedtime for our four kids. Once my husband called me when I was at school and begged me to come home (I did). He was having an anxiety attack with the mental and physical exhaustion.
We have four children, two that are teens and two that are younger (including a toddler). Thank goodness for the help of the older two. Our only free family time together is Sunday. My husband usually like to check a few things off the to-do list that day, since it’s the only time he has. We also spend Sunday at church, meal planning for the week, doing household things, and maybe a small family activity, like a walk or the park.
There are some great ideas out there for growing closer to your spouse. However not many of these relationship goals are relate-able for those of us with tight schedules, small kids or budgets. These are the #RelationshipGoals that probably seem unattainable to most.
- “Read a relationship book together” – yeah, no time for reading together (I think if I started reading aloud, my husband would be snoring in 2.2 seconds!)
- “Have regular date nights” – that includes not only the cost of an evening out but also a babysitter (and time we don’t have!) I can’t remember the last date night with just the two of us (that wasn’t a work party).
- “Have meaningful conversations” – that sounds exhausting! At this point, I’m good if I get the chance to even tell my husband that the toilet clogged or to buy cheese at the grocery.
Making Time for Deeper Relationships
So how in the heck do you create a deep emotional connection as partners when time is so limited? Can you possibly squeeze in “quality time” every day? How are you ever going to hit those marriage goals when you don’t even have the energy for a two-minute conversation? I have a few ideas on how to foster deep relationship even on limited time and energy.
And lest you think these tips are only for married couples, think about them in terms of your children as well. If you find yourself mentally and physically exhausted to the point where you feel the connection slipping with you kids, try these with your children as well.
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1. Find Time Wherever, Whenever
I know that my time to talk to my husband one-on-one is very limited. If there’s something we need to discuss, it can be hard to do that when there are kids around. We try to squeeze in the time for talk whenever we can. My husband will often call me when he’s on his way home from work and talk over the Bluetooth. When he jumps in the shower, I’ll stand in the bathroom and we’ll chat. After dinner is cleaned up, we’ll often head out with the baby in her stroller for a walk. This gives us about 30 minutes of chatting while we get exercise. Where can you grab a few minutes of talking time with your partner?
2. Know When to Share (and When to Wait)
There are things that I need to talk to my husband about. Upcoming business trips, possible family vacation plans, something I’d like to buy for the house. These aren’t quick conversations. I haven’t talked to him about them yet because the timing just hasn’t been right. When my husband is exhausted, pouncing on him with big news as soon as he walks in the door isn’t going to go over very well! Knowing when to speak and when to wait is golden.
3. Showing Appreciation
Everyone wants to feel appreciated. When you’re run down, it’s too easy to get down on yourself. It’s basic but “thank you” goes a long way. And if you can’t be there in person to deliver it, leave little messages. I put a Post-It note message on my husband’s phone at least once a week. I write it at night and it’s there in the morning before he leave for work.
4. Expressions of Affection
Physical intimacy isn’t always going to happen exactly when you want it to. However without intimacy and affection, your spouse may feel more like a roommate. Small gestures of touching, like a hug when preparing dinner, a foot massage while chatting about your day or a back rub before bed can really foster that connection. When I crawl into bed at night I’ll place my hand on my husband’s chest and say a prayer over him as he sleeps. He might not be awake for the affection, but it’s still meaningful to me.
5. Plan Ahead
Okay, so right now you’re time is tight and your relationship might be feeling equally tense. Is there a time in the future where you foresee a break in the craziness? Make a plan for the future, when things slow down. Maybe you’ll plan a weekend getaway, a family vacation or even just a day trip together. Perhaps your plan is even larger, like buying a new house or making a move out of state. Planning ahead and talking about it keeps your relationship moving forward towards something.
6. A Kind Gesture
If you’ve been together for any significant amount of time, you know what makes each other excited. My husband loves to have homemade cookies in his lunch. So if I bake them in the evening after he’s gone to bed, it really does make his day. What small gesture could you do out of the blue that would make your mate happy?
7. Switch Off the Attitude
I’ll confess that when I’m overloaded with stress, I tend to blow up on those around me. My husband is the same, unfortunately, letting the anxiety of the day spent at work flow over into our home life. Before my husband even gets home, I have been really focusing on my attitude and words. I don’t want the little time we spend together to be filled with arguing or upsets.
8. Be Present in Each Other’s Company
Unpopular opinion, but sitting in the same room while you’re both browsing your phones is not going to build your relationship! Put your phone on the charger and use the time you would have spent watching videos on Facebook to chat with your partner instead.
9. Pray for Each Other
Even when we’re not together, I am thinking about my husband while he’s at work. I pray that he’s safe, that he’s having a good day, that he’s healthy, whatever comes into my head and heart at the time. And each night before I fall asleep I place my hand on his back or chest and whisper prayers over him as he sleeps.
10. Remind Yourself That This is Only a Season
Big breath, “This too shall pass”. Hopefully the tight time constrictions currently in your relationship are only going to last a short amount of time before you’re given a breather. Focus on the future and what you’ll do with growing your partnership when you have more time and energy to invest.