By Lily Friedman
You may be a hard worker, great parent and a stelar friend. But when you’re busy bouncing back and forth between roles, it’s easy to forget you’re supposed to be part of a couple too.
Whether you’re the one working long hours and your partner is the one running all the errands or vice versa, in order to keep the relationship alive and thriving, you must have a mutual game plan for your work-life balance.
With only 24 hours in a day, finding that quality time for your significant other is proved to be quite the challenge. Fortunately, therapists can provide key tools to get your relationship back on track.
Here are three practical steps you can take to redirect your focus away from the daily grind and towards your relationship:
1. Evaluate where you and your partner stand
Before you can even begin finding that elusive work-life balance between you and your partner, you must first identify how the perfect life balance looks for you.
Start by dividing your life between four primary “buckets” such as work, family, intimate relationships and self, suggests marriage and family therapist Lisa Kift. “What is important to you? What are your priorities? Some might be out of need (financial) and others might be out of desire (getting in your weekly mountain bike ride). Draw a picture of what your life balance might look like or if you’re a list maker, make a list,” Kift says.
Once you’ve both created your own definition of balance, make sure to communicate your desires and boundaries clearly. This is where talking to a therapist really comes into play. The skills you learn during office visits can be extremely valuable in hashing out these details.
Psychotherapist Lori Hollander, for instance, recommends discussing how you would like to spend your time each week. Make sure to touch on work, time with kids, activities and chores. “Brainstorm the activities you would like to do together if you had more time. Then prioritize them. Don’t forget sex; making love often ends up on the bottom of the list,” she says.
2. Think of actionable steps
Once you create a vision for your ideal relationship, brainstorm practical steps to get there.
It might be that you need to hire someone else to deep clean the house once a week or one of you needs to adjust his work schedule so you enjoy more date nights. If you have children, you might consider hiring a babysitter or taking turns with friends watching each other’s kids. And when you finally get some one-on-one time, Hollander says, limit outside distractions by turning off your phone.
Take it a step further and create your very own ‘life balance list.’ Write down any desires you have, no matter how wild it might seem, and figure out what will it take to check every item off that list.
Finding balance is such a strenuous process that Kift suggests asking yourself these questions if you ever find yourself off balance or looking to pinpoint what to change.
- How did I get here?
- What can I say no to?
- Are there different choices I can be making?
- What are my priorities?
3. Create bonding routines
The old adage “quality over quantity” rings true when it comes to the time thriving couples spend together.
Relationship expert Nikki Martinez says one of the best ways to make time for your relationship is by creating bonding routines: “Busy couples should plan to get up a half hour early to have a cup of coffee or breakfast together and touch base. They should also make sure to find time to talk about their day.”
Quality time with your loved one can look like a 20 minutes on a short walk or a trip out of town, but it could also be connecting while running errands or doing chores together, explains NYC psychotherapist Lisa Brateman.
Sometimes however, partners drift apart so much that only professional guidance could help them find their way back to each other.
Regain.Us, for instance, allows for online casual conversations with counselors, anytime, anywhere. A recent study by a UC Berkeley researcher reported that individuals in online counseling programs are more satisfied than those who choose in-office visits.