A few weeks ago I wrote about dealing with relationship stress when your partner is busy. So what if you are the person who is too busy for their relationship? Maybe you have a high pressure job which requires long hours. Or it could be that your social calendar keeps you in motion all the time. You might feel stuck in a rut, where you feel disconnected from your partner. And when the two of you do talk, it is a fight about how you never make time for them. Here are a few thoughts about managing your time in relationships.
Differentiate Between Business and Pressure
Research shows that the majority of people are not as busy as they think that they are. Well that does not make sense. I feel busy. It always seems like I’m having to take care of some task or do some thing. But the research shows that not as much of your time is occupied as you think.
So then where does that feeling come from? It is important to remember that stress and pressure are feelings. And those feelings are feedback. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it means that the way you are spending your time, not the amount of time, is getting to you. This is when you need to start asking yourself questions about what you find fulfilling, what you value, what you love or hate.
The fights might happen for a lot of different reasons. Maybe your partner hates that you answer emails at home. Or maybe you have a friend that you always let pull you away from your partner. You might even get into fights just because you talk about work at home.
I do not claim to be a mind-reader, your partner might be different. But in my experience with couples, these fights are protests that come up when someone feels they are not a priority or their needs are unmet. The time that you choose to devote to your relationship is how we communicate love and caring. And if those boundaries are not protected, it communicates that there are other things more important to us than our partner.
Know Your Limitations
One of my favorite shows of all time is 30 Rock. Liz, one of the main characters, believes that “I can have it all.” She attempts to find love, adopt a child, maintain a social life, all while being under heavy pressure as the head writer for a TV show. And she does it to varying degrees of success throughout the show.
This show does also have a character named Dr. Spaceman and a network intern who seems to be immortal. What I mean is that the show is not real. It is important to be realistic about what your limitations are. If you like your job enough to work 50-80 hour weeks that is fine. It is fine to like video games. You might have a great friend group that you love spending time with on the evenings or weekends. All those things are good. But realistically, it is not fair to anyone’s partner for you to try to “have it all.” Sometimes, we do have to know our limitations and cut some things out if our relationship is struggling.
If you are having a hard time working out priorities or managing time in your relationship give The Marriage & Family Clinic a call.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado.