As summer vacations wrap up, the school year begins, and your calendar fills up with social obligations, school responsibilities, and family activities, it’s a fitting time to talk about being busy and the way that busyness impacts our relationships. When we’re juggling all the things, it becomes challenging to maintain a strong connection with our partners. It may feel like no big deal to put off a date night, skip an important conversation, or be affectionate with your spouse or partner. But over time, if we repeatedly choose competing demands over connecting with our partners, our relationships and families absorb the impact.
We want our relationships to thrive, especially when life is busy and challenging, so we’ve rounded up four no-nonsense strategies for connecting with your spouse or partner when life gets super busy. Scroll on!
THINK SMALL. Seemingly small efforts to connect with your partner can be surprisingly impactful in your relationship. Your microbehaviors have the power to communicate that you’re thinking about your partner and that you enjoy being with them. Send your partner a thoughtful text. Give her a quick squeeze on the shoulder in the kitchen. Buy your spouse’s favorite dessert at the grocery store. Say “thank you.” Small efforts create a strong foundation for intimacy.
PLAN AHEAD. Proactively scheduling time with your partner or spouse will strengthen your relationship. A 2012 University of Virginia study found that couples who spent one-on-one time together at least once per week were over three times as likely as couples who spent less time together to report being very happy in their marriages. Brainstorm with your partner about sustainable habits that might foster more consistent connection with one another. A few ideas: a standing date night each weekend, a beginning-of-the-week “check-in” ritual, or an evening walk each night after dinner.
BE PRESENT. When talking with your partner, get in the habit of fully attuning to what he or she has to say. This means focusing on understanding what your partner is saying and refraining from giving advice (unless directly asked for advice). Listen, clarify, and empathize. Also, ditch your phone. It’s no surprise that our devices impair our ability to engage with loved ones. Consider putting some family boundaries on devices, such as a household docking station and dedicated tech-free hours.