The modern relationship is already under so many pressures: financial pressures thanks to the crummy economy, the endless onslaught of social media, confusion in gender roles. Add to all this the fact that people are working not only longer hours but also non-traditional hours to make ends meet. The days of everyone punching the clock for the same 9-5 workday are fizzling away into a rose-colored memory. More often than not, this leaves relationships in an endless tag team race against the clock. And the clock is winning.
Example – A typical day in the life of a mom who works from home as well as home-schooling her son: Get up at the crack of dawn. Write until said son wakes up. Teach son until the early afternoon. Play with son until husband gets home. Hand son to husband with a fond “see ya later” as she disappears into the other room to work. Husband hangs out with son until son’s bedtime. But wife is still working. By the time she takes a break, husband has fallen asleep on the couch.
Oh, wait, that’s my life.
Enjoying little to no time together is the sacrifice we’ve made for the lifestyle we have, and it’s a choice. But there are definitely days when I wonder how sustainable the situation is. It’s very nearly equivalent to being in a long distance relationship in your own home. If you think long distance relationships are tough, try being in one in which your partner is literally ten feet away on the other side of a wall. Awkward.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I think they’re full of it. So here are a few tips to help keep a relationship strong even while battling schedule meltdown.
Who Needs Date Night?
Sure date night is ideal, but what to do if you simply do not have one single night off during the week together? Solution: make anytime date time. Even if all you can muster is a simple hour together in between jobs, make the most of that time to do something special. Light a candle, sit down and have a cup of coffee together. Listen to a favorite CD while cuddling on the couch. Fantasize about a vacation. Maybe even plan a real one. Think of what life will look like when the schedule improves. Remember why you are together in the first place.
Use the Power of Social Media for Good
Social media could spell the end of a vulnerable relationship (why won’t my 8th grade boyfriend quit messaging me?!), its powers can also be used for good instead of evil. Leave articles on your partner’s Facebook page about a subject he or she particularly likes, something they can read later, alone, and swoon over the knowledge of how well you know their taste. Or post a song that has meaning to your relationship. Private message them dirty jokes.
Go Old School
On the other side of that coin, leave real, honest-to-goodness handwritten messages around the house. Sticky notes with sweet endearments in unusual places that will bring a smile to your partner’s face. “Eat Me” on the carton of ice cream in the freezer. Pepper such messages with hearts and x’s and o’s, obviously. If your partner travels, find out where he or she is staying and send an “I wish you were here” postcard from where you live.
Sex, Sex, Sex
When you do get a chance to physically be in the same realm at the same time, make sure the sex is good. Seriously, don’t get lazy. Make sure you both have something to think about when you’re not around each other.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
When you have precious few moments together, you don’t want to spend them in a fight. Communication precludes misunderstandings and disagreements. Be clear about what you want and need from your relationship that is currently in a fragile space. When both partners are swamped and tired, things can get messy. Who does the shopping? Who cleans the bathroom? Who makes the bed? Before resentment rears its ugly head, talk amongst yourselves about who does what, about when it’s okay not to do it, and when to choose your battles. And when your partner does do something to make your home nice? Notice. Say thank you.
Put Your Phones Away
When time together is a premium, you definitely don’t want to be distracted. Enough said.
This is the world we live in now, and while it’s not Ozzie and Harriett (does that reference stand the test of time?) it is what it is. Believe it or not, relationships have always taken a lot of work. It might just be that the parameters and limits of modern day relationships will force us to be more creative and more present when we get the chance to be, actually, in each other’s presence.