Date night... important, enjoyable and so hard to schedule with those ever multiplying demands of work parenting and more. One of the first things to go under the weight of it all is quality time in our primary relationship and we simply hope it will hang on for a less chaotic time in our life.
Connection is important and it often dawns on me, “I miss my husband” and I know he misses me. I think we can all relate. So why are we not digging deeper and making the time? Busyness, distractions, and tiredness, often due to things we don't need to be doing, perfection we don't need to attain, causing guilt that drives us to despondence. What a horrible driver guilt is. You end up keeping the same over scheduled and overwhelmed life and add in some bad feelings about it. So guiltily you plan date night, but after a challenging week with no sleep or a flurry of after school activities you both agree you are too tired. You want to connect in a meaningful way but when you are struggling to keep it all together, you can't help but think, do we really need to go bowling when my pj's are calling?
In Rachel Macy Stafford's book Hands Free Life she addresses how a distracted and pressured life takes us away from a life of significance, opportunities to live in the moment, and the practice of presence. Rachel gently (seriously reading her book is like receiving an encouraging hug) provides habits that can help you let go, chase your passions and focus on your relationships again.
There is a great quote in the Hand's Free Life by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least". So when the sacrifices and demands are taking their toll on the most in our lives, I wonder if we are putting the cart before the horse. Despite love and connection being there in our relationship, we are lacking the very desire and motivation for time together, for life even and we are being drained by our chase of the least.
If a plan isn't working at your job, meetings are called. If you are making some renovations in the home, designs are started. When you need a change you need to communicate, cast vision, and make a plan. So instead of dragging yourself out to a meal you are too exhausted to enjoy in search of connection, stay in, put the kids to bed, meet at a table with journal, paper or computer in hand, let go of the guilt and start talking.
Here are some talking points:
What do we want for our relationship? Where do we see ourselves in our relationship next month, in a year, in five years? How do we get there?
How can we improve connection during this chaotic time in our lives? What are some areas of strength we can draw from and weaknesses we can improve upon in our relationship? How can we be more in control and what can we improve when we communicate with each other? What do we need to cut out to have more time and energy?
How do we make a plan to put down the distractions, unplug and truly connect, regularly? What can we schedule in date wise that seems workable and not just another item on a never-ending list of things we have to do? Where can we fit in check-ins like this each week?
Once you have gone through some steps to build into your relationship you will start to feel back on track and will appreciate the importance of time together like a fun date night out, prioritizing it as a healthy and happy time for you both. This will also get the family logistics and business items out of the way each week freeing you up to talk about anything during your time together and not using it as your only time to really talk or even bicker.
Why work at this? Because there is always room for love and therefore there is time for each other and it will fill your cup and not have you run on empty. As Rachel so eloquently says "It's time you lay your head on your pillow at night knowing you achieved something of significance—not in terms of societal standards, but in terms of the light in your child's eyes, the curve of your spouse's lip, and the beat of your very own heart... with a Hands Free view, you have the power to rise above the distractions of the world and see a clear path to what matters most." With this established and with a collaborative effort you will be a team that wants more from your relationship that isn't just getting through the parenting years hoping there will be a little something left in the empty nest.