Healthy Relationships Require Relationship Time
We all want to experience healthy relationships in our lives. One of the areas we often see in practice is couples who say they have a good relationship, but they cannot find the time to be alone. A relationship requires work from both parties and when we make a commitment to another person we are also committing to make our relationships happy.
We all have demands on our lives: family, work, friends, and sleep. Yet, we have to make time in our relationships to make the relationship work. When I see couples with relationship issues, one of the first things I ask is, “When do you have relationship time?” Many people look at me and say, “We are together all the time.”
I am with my partner for about eight hours a day (not including sleep). I would not consider that eight hours to be relationship time. In that time together, we have to attend to the needs of our work and businesses, we have to maintain our friendships and also enjoy down time. We have learnt that we need to make relationship time where the focus is us and us alone.
Relationship time is devoted time for each to communicate with each other as a way to check in. It is not sitting in front of television together; it is not preparing dinner, or feeding the kids and chatting. It is mindful and purposeful time to nourish and support the relationship.
Relationship time is about creating space for the relationship. Try booking a regular time together and commit to it ensuring it happens. I often suggest to couples to do relationship time within 15 minutes of getting home.
When you have ‘relationship time’ use that time to focus only on each other. Exclude the demands of the world. The television can wait; the dinner can wait; the children will not miss out by not receiving attention for 10-15 minutes while mum and dad talk. Have a drink – a tea, coffee, wine, soft drink. Sit and talk to each other about your respective days.
Talk about you not others. If work is horrible talk about how that is affecting you and not about the problem at work. Relationship time is for partners to share what is happening for them. To listen to each other. And most importantly, to be together and to be with each other.
I find from when my couples report back after two weeks of doing relationship time, they report being closer and communicating better. As one couple said to me, “It’s just like it is us again for the 10 minutes.” “Like it used to be before kids.” Relationship time gave this couple an opportunity to re-connect.
At the beginning relationship time might seem a bit staged – it is! With time you will make it your own. The kids, and/or the dog might have to adjust a little to not being the centre of attention for 10 minutes, yet they all adjust. Relationship time provides the space for partners to talk, to build and to maintain the relationship. Relationship is about maintaining a meaningful connection together.
When people feel connected; listened to; wanted; and loved they are more likely to want to give of themselves and will build resilience. When couples experience stronger connection they are likely to also build resilience.
Relationships do take work, and we do need to work at and on our relationships to maintain them at optimum levels. Relationship time is a simple little technique which will help couples develop a stronger, more resilient relationship.
Remember a healthy life includes a healthy sex life and a healthy relationship.
Dr Christopher Fox is a Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist at Sex Life Therapy in Melbourne. He has clinics in East Melbourne and Frankston.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this document should be read as general in nature and is only to provide an overview of the subject matter covered. Please see a an appropriate practitioner if you have any concerns.