Couple Time: Making connection a priority

Maria and Jose are your typical dual career couple with two kids and a mortgage. He leaves home at 6.30 AM and commutes to his downtown Chicago job via the train. She drops off the kids at school by 8.30 AM before driving like a mad-woman to her own suburban job. At 4 PM, Jose sprints to catch the train home, picks up the kids from aftercare, and checks their homework. Maria drives home by 5.15 PM while stressing about dinner. If they are lucky, Jose and Maria get to kiss each other hello, feed the kids, and then drive them to piano/sports/religious ed. At the end of the day, there are dishes, bills, catch-up emails, and laundry.

Jose calls my office to say that he feels they need couple therapy. Lately he and his wife only snap at each other, have frequent arguments about “the little stuff,” and their deep conversations are about to-do lists, play-dates for kids, and negotiations around who will do emergency groceries that day. Before they come to therapy, it is a Herculean task even to find a time that allows them an hour a week to sit down together in my office. When I ask about the last time they went out on a date or even just had a heart-to-heart chat, they both agree that it was during their California trip where they attended a wedding.

Problem is that was 5 months ago!

The good news is that both Maria and Jose recognized the need to mend their relationship, and agreed to be in therapy to work on improving their communication quality and quantity. Their journey took them from their crammed calendars to their first date, their early childfree years as a couple, and recent unhealthy patterns. They worked on pruning their schedules and prioritizing their couple time. They made time to connect daily for at least 15 minutes, and planned longer dates for weekends. Their arguments decreased as they paid attention to each other, used technology to check in with each other during the day, and dismantled unhealthy routines.

Often couples are great parents and dedicated employees. They are also dutiful adult children, and efficient PTA Presidents. But they may be at risk for being negligent of the one person who is supposed to be their closest friend, partner and confidant, namely their spouse. Connecting with your partner is about ensuring that your relationship has gas in the tank. A relationship that runs on empty will not go far.

This link will show you some ways in which you and your significant other can build intimacy, remain connected and re-fuel your relationship.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome! Please email me