What does time mean for the couple relationship?
At the beginning of a relationship, in a couple, besides the “milk and honey” that you think will flow daily to keep the harmony, there are some states of affairs that, in some way, it is implied will always be present. So, the two, are sure to be there for each other and each “knows” that the other will respond to their needs, in difficult life situations.
In reality, these, to be fulfilled, depend on concrete demands and needs, and partners should be much more aware of their RELATIONSHIP.
How do you support the RELATIONSHIP when it is right?
Over the years, following couples psychotherapy sessions, I have noticed that many partners take good as an axiom, a given, something that is normal to exist. This usually happens until certain habits stop working and no longer bring benefits.
It’s healthy to ask yourself what routines your couple or relationship has and whether they meet your individual and shared needs.
As children come into the world, the rhythm of life as a couple also includes the role of parent, which begins to overlap with that of partner/spouse. Adults who have become parents confuse their daily chores with being a partner, and the couple “forgets” or looks for excuses for the lack of time together (tiredness, lack of help with the children, etc.). These are realities of the new family and often exhausting, but they are not situations that cannot be resolved.
It takes effort. Organizing quality time together requires interested attention and consistency. If you take these issues for granted, you are not far from unrest or turbulence.
More than half of couples who come to therapy say they spend no time together at all during the week and only occasionally make time at the end of the week. Some even consider spending time together going to the market or shopping or anniversaries and parties.
Time together means 100% devoted attention to each other, not talking with friends and having fun in groups. Partners who have low connection and in everyday life will avoid each other in such situations with friends.
Living together does not implicitly mean that you give time to the relationship!
Exercise to learn time management together!
If you have been in a relationship for at least three years and have children for at least one year, I recommend the following exercise to assess the roles in your life and the importance you attach to them.
1.First write down the main roles you find yourself in: partner/partner; professional role, parenting role, woman/man role.
2.Draw a circle for each role listed, name it and make the size of the circle directly proportional to the importance you attach to it.
3.Write down inside the circle the states/feelings or emotions you most frequently experience in that role.
4.What do you notice? What aspects do you draw from what you see and understand?
5.Which role would you like to receive different attention from you?
6.What actions would you take to achieve improvement/change?
If you have found, for example, that the role of wife/husband often overlaps with that of mother/father, or that these roles are more than you want from yourself as a woman/man, you feel unsupported, your personal and couple life no longer seems as satisfying, then you can help yourself by at least three more questions:
1.What are our priorities towards our couple?
2.What priorities do we have as adults towards our family?
3.What do I want my couple relationship to offer me? What do I want to get out of it?
You may find that your time together, although you think of it as a need, is not a defined or prioritized time, but rather a casual one that puts the relationship on the back burner after immediate needs and career.
As a rule, women complain about the lack of sufficient involvement of husbands/partners, in organizing the house, in bringing up children (respecting limits on eating sweets, using the phone, watching TV or raising your voice to the children), in household chores or simply in relating and communicating (time spent in the bathroom, getting angry in confrontations, lack of communication, etc.).
As such, much of a couple’s or families’ energy is lost in such situations, which unfortunately are not occasional and which erode balance, self-confidence or hope that things could ever be different.
After years of cohabitation and simmering conflicts, competition, sometimes distancing, emotional withdrawal, over-involvement with children or in their careers, arise between the two and partners realize that they have communication problems or no longer have common goals.
If they really want the relationship to continue, partners need to get beyond the thinking stage and identify their common goals and physically write them down in their diaries.
Set rules for the family
Set the rules together. Make sure they are written down and negotiate what is to your advantage.
Change when you find that what you originally wanted and set out is not helping what you hoped to achieve. The good news is that differences don’t have to drive people apart if they love each other. They can be redefined as meaning and perspective and what is important again is that partners can also be complementary not necessarily similar
Valentina Simon, systemic psychotherapist for couples and families