Over the past few generations we have moved from a ‘breadwinner – homemaker’ family system to one where both adults and parents assume full time vocations. So, instead of two jobs in a family, we now have three. If we add children to the mix, there is a fourth job – child rearing. Precious time and energy is divided between child care, housekeeping, jobs, social events, family activities, adult time with a spouse, friendships, and personal self-care time. Sounds like a lot? It is, and something has to give.
Often we sacrifice time with our spouse and self-care time, thinking that we can make up for this later. The result can be emotionally disastrous. When we hollow out the marital bond and neglect to take good care of our physical and emotional needs, we set up a parallel marital system and lose the very things that enhanced our marriage to begin with. We used to talk, now we cope. We used to feel tender toward our precious mate, now we expect him or her to fend to him/her self. We used to touch each other, now we touch in passing rather than in passion. When was the last time we hugged until we felt totally relaxed?
So, what shall we do? Maybe it is time to sit down with our mate and make sacrifices that will lead to increased intimacy and care for each other and ourselves. If funds are available (after all, we are both bringing income into our system), consider hiring someone to carry out some of the housekeeping and child care. Nannies have become a growing business, and sharing a nanny with family friends can provide valuable time for adult intimacy. Is every outing with other friends or with the children? If so plan and keep a date night at least once each week where we can talk about our feelings for each other, our hopes and dreams, and how important we are for each other. No business talk, only focus on the precious things we talked about before we married. Perhaps we need to reduce the friendship and activities time to make quality time for each other.
A patient of mine was working 70 hour weeks and her husband was working over 60 hours, planning to have time for each other some day. Now each of them is experiencing health problems and ‘some day’ may never come. As doctors tell us, no one confesses on their death bed that they wish they had worked harder. Now is the time for quality in life, including an open and intimate relationship with our partner.