So many of the couples and intimate partners I see complain of schedule overwhelm. Whether they’re worried about a lack of sex and intimate connection or incongruencies around childcare and housekeeping, time is, for many, a key barrier to feeling intimately connected. While it is true that the pace of life is faster and faster for folks; it is also true that some of the time barriers are optional.
That’s why I am a fan of the date night! Some people hate having to plan for time together, but I think it’s essential for today’s intimate partners. There are always going to be pressing things that will feel more important than sharing sweet time together. At some point, you just have to set the boundary, and declare that your relationship is going to come first!
First rule of the date: separate logistics from connection time!
Ever go on a date and spend the whole time talking about the kids’ schedules? Stop that! Make some time for one another outside of your routine. Ban talk about logistics for that time period.
If you’re convinced that you don’t have enough time. Start with small bites of partner time: 15 minutes of sweet time before bed, or a quick morning walk around the block. Work up to a 30 minute relationship rejuvenation session. During that time, you can take 15 minutes each to check in about what’s happening for you beneath the surface or share appreciations with one another. You can also spend the whole time making out or cuddling naked, without an agenda that it’s going to turn into sex or head in a particular direction.
Yes, all time together has the potential to be connection time. And when you feel like you’re on the same team, and you’re operating like a well-oiled machine, intimacy can feel easier. However, feeling the satisfaction of running a household together in a positive, efficient way, doesn’t replace the need for “sweet time” that’s just about the two of you.
Sometimes, time management issues are a stand-in for other feelings. Some couples find that when they finally manage to carve out a few precious hours for a date, they end up struggling to find things to talk about. T hey don’t remember how to connect beyond the kids, the chores and the bills anymore. In addition, lingering resentments can make it hard to focus on the positive when you’re finally sharing empty space. If this is the case, it may be time to explore relationship therapy to see if you can clear the air and resolve those incomplete conflicts.
Rejuvenating your relationship doesn’t stop there. Sometimes it just takes a a little patience and a lot of practice to rediscover the art of intimate conversation with your partner. In the beginning, this can easily turn into overprocessing. Talking about what ails you is important, but don’t get stuck in a rut.
In addition to getting the support of a therapist, you may need to practice bringing in more positive conversation dynamics into your relationship. This does not eliminate the importance of talking about what’s hard. It just gives you an opportunity to be more intentional about when you’re focusing on the hard things, and when you’re making room for what’s nourishing about your connection. If you find yourself struggling to identify what feels good between you, then you know it’s time to get help!
As you carve out more time, you can step out of your comfort zones. To spice things up, find positive ways to interact by learning new things together. Create mini adventures. Take a salsa class. Learn and practice a new language together. Go hiking on some new trails. Decide to try and compare all the new gelato places in town. Take one of those neo-tantra workshops. Do something together that brings you joy and forces you to “lean” into each other in a different way.
Still skeptical? I say, just try it! Over the next month, go on at least two dates and see how you do. You’re bound to learn something about yourself and your relationship(s). If you find that you’re unable to make time, or your dates keep getting moved, then get curious about what’s getting in the way. If you DO manage to go on some dates over the next few weeks, take notes about what works and what doesn’t. Either way, I’d love to hear what you discover!