by Dale Bailey, Th.D.
Some tips on how parents can cope with the
pressures of work and career while still nurturing children and sustaining
times" for you as a couple -- a weekly date (even at home), a morning
meditation time, a nightly "decompression" talk about the day's
events (even if only ten to fifteen minutes, even if you're physically
apart). Be creative about this, and be consistent.
Some couples balk at
the idea of scheduling intimacy. These couples suffer from the "myth
of spontaneity" -- the notion that even when their lives are
completely overscheduled, somehow, they will find the time to connect.
Typically they don't, and then blame each other rather than acknowledging
their busy lives and being proactive in making intimacy happen. Even if
you're not spending as much time together as you'd ultimately prefer,
knowing you can count on regular sacred times of intimacy can keep you
connected while you work to change the balance of work and couple/family
Try using Sixty Second
Pleasure Points across the day - fun and even sensual activities that a
couple can do that last only sixty seconds or less! A quick massage,
sharing a piece of fruit, an embrace, dancing, and when apart, a quick
phone call, or an affectionate, amusing email or fax.
If one partner is
shouldering more of the little details of family life, sit down together
and see if the other partner can take over some of them. Sometimes small
changes in who does what reap significant decreases in stress.
Arrange sacred times
with the kids as well - but remember, kids can't handle emotional
shorthand as well as adults - they need more time! The quality of
"quality time" greatly diminishes when it's too short. Think
about doing some mindless chores with the kids while having a conversation
-- it's a great way to teach them skills and responsibilities while
connecting. Many kids don't like to have adult-like face-to- face
Try to arrange regular
family time. Several studies show that families highly value having at
least one meal together daily, and many pull it off. Schedule other times
that everyone can count on for fun.
For both the couple
and family times, make sure you turn off the beepers and cell phones, and
ignore the phone and fax. Nothing gets in the way of time together more
than the erratic interruptions of work dispatches through modern
Ultimately, if you
wish to have more time from work for family, you may need to think
carefully about the financial and career goals you've set, and make
difficult choices to pare down work. You may be surprised to find, after
some initial grumbling and suspicious (maybe envious!) sidelong glances
from your co-workers or boss as you leave only one hour past the supposed
end of the workday, that you don't lose your job!
The key to all these tips is
regularity -- creating a rhythm of family life that acknowledges
realistic time pressures from work but that prioritizes and fits in time for all
the relationships in the family.
enhance your relationship with your life partner:
Just one five minute
connection a day can make for a happier marriage. So go ahead and spend five
the most important time of the day.
Most couples fit their
cuddles in at the end of the day, but cuddling in the morning is even more
rewarding. The physical contact will keep you feeling close to each other all
day, so set the alarm five minutes early, then snuggle. You can talk, but you
don't have to. The most important part is that you're holding each other. It'll
help you both start the day feeling loved, and you'll feel that way all day
other one simple question before you head out the door.
What is it? "Anything
special going on today?" Talking about the daily details of our lives is
just as important to couples as sharing hopes, dreams, and fears with each
other. The nitty-gritty details determine a lot of how we act and feel on any
given day, so asking about them is a great way to build understanding and
rapport. Then, when you're together again at the end of the day, ask how that
special something -- that meeting, phone call to an important client, or lunch
with a friend went. The results? You'll feel connected.
you like about each other
When a conversation about
cars sprang up at a gathering with friends, one woman gave her husband credit
for making their old clunker last with his TLC. She later said, "He looked
so happy, I realized I should tell him more often how much I appreciate the
things he does. I didn't think I had to tell him. I assumed he knew how much I
appreciate him." The moral? If there's something you appreciate about your
partner, from his parenting skills to the way he painted the garage last month,
speak up! If you start, you may enjoy the same treatment from your husband. How
does praise work magic? It reminds your partner that you love them, and knowing
they're loved makes them more willing to iron out differences.
kindnesses for each other
The good we do for our
partner tends to come back to us. When you're thoughtful to your partner,
they're inclined to be thoughtful in return. And those acts of kindness make for
a loving feeling between two people. So pick up each other's favorite dessert,
or clip articles you think your spouse might like. The amount of love those
small kindnesses will bring you is without limit.
instant stress buster
One of the most important
things we've discovered about happy couples is that they spend five minutes
griping to each other about things that stressed them out during the day, taking
turns talking. This lowers the amount of stress they feel and lets them enjoy
the rest of their evening together.
Dr. Bailey is a
clinical psychologist practicing in Northern California. You may visit his
web site at: www.therapycorner.com
Back to top