By Steve and Bridget Patton | September 2021 | Faith Catholic (Faithmag.com)
HE SAYS: We hardly ever see each other
Elaine works a traditional office job, while I work the third shift at a manufacturing plant. So I try to plan “together time” before I go into work, but she resists.
SHE SAYS: My job is very demanding
When I get home, I’m tired and just want to relax and have an easy dinner. I don’t feel like planning activities or outings on weeknights. Steven is raring to go at that time of day.
We’re guessing your problem is less about a low quantity of time together and more about a low quality of it. Consider that some couples can maintain close and happy relationships even when forced to be physically separated, while other couples, though physically together, live emotionally separated. What makes the difference?
Above all, both parties have to want intimacy, and both must be willing to make sacrifices to obtain it. And their respective sacrifices might be different.
For instance, Steven, it’s a good thing to want quality “together time,” but your vision of what that looks like might be quite different from Elaine’s. You might see it more in terms of planning and “doing” things together, while she might see it more in terms of curling up and just “being” together. Both can be healthy ways to nurture a relationship, but what if one way is easier for you and harder for her and vice versa?
If you both want to be happier and more enriched by the presence and gifts of the other, then the challenge to each of you is to look for ways to stretch toward a middle ground.
Elaine, it sounds like you’re not really opposed to planning activities and outings in general; it’s just that it’s too much for you on weekday evenings. So, Steven, maybe during the week you can start generating some ideas and plans for the weekend, and even bounce them off Elaine. But do it gently. And briefly. While relaxing together.
A few other tips:
- Look for ways to expand the number of quality minutes you have. For example, even five overlapping minutes in the kitchen making sandwiches can provide an opportunity to check in with each other. It doesn’t have to be deep talk. What matters is to ask, to listen and to care.
- Read or listen to the same book during your commutes. Even though you won’t be together when you’re reading, it’ll still be a “just the two of us” activity that you can talk about later together.
- “Be humble, gentle and patient, and accept each other with love.” (Eph 4:2)