Family working on spending quality time together.

If you are married and have young children, you know how hard it is to make quality time with your partner.  This is especially true if you are also both working.

We are aware of this in our own lives, having two adult children both working full time and having two young children of their own.  Kids naturally know how to get your time and attention. Sometimes they really need it, like having a meal, getting help with their homework, or getting a diaper changed.

Other times, quality time for kids is necessary for their growth and development, like reading to them or playing with them.  (Just watch the movie “Christopher Robin” to reinforce that message!)  The grown-up Christopher comes to learn from Winnie the Pooh and from his wife and daughter the importance of taking time off from work to be with his family.

To take care of your family, you may find yourselves working as a tag team just to keep things covered. This may work out fine logistically, but you give up having much quality time to spend with your partner.  This can be risky. You may find yourselves sacrificing couple intimacy for parenting.

You may also run out of energy for spending time with your partner after a full day of work, helping kids with homework and getting them to bed, and then trying to do household chores as well.  By that time, unless you are a superhero—which many people try to be—you are probably exhausted.

Who has the energy for quality time with your partner then?

As it turns out, spending quality time with your partner is crucial for the wellbeing of your relationship and your family.

It takes making your relationship a high priority in your life.  The kids won’t thrive if your relationship is suffering.  Like the flight attendant on the airplane says, “Put on your own oxygen mask first, then put one on your child.”  Otherwise, neither of you might survive.

Yes, it is possible to have it both ways—making it work for your kids and your relationship as well.  In fact, it is crucial to nurture both your family and your marriage.

You can’t do it alone, however.  You and your spouse need to work together as a team.

Here are some tips for how to carve out quality time for your relationship and your busy life:

  • Get up early enough in the morning to have some time to talk together, even for just a few minutes. You can share any dreams you had that night.  It doesn’t take long, but it is quality intimate sharing.
  • Arrange to trade taking care of friends’ kids for a time when they will do the same for you.
  • Make requests of family members and trusted friends to watch your children for a few hours or even overnight once in a while. Let them know how important it is to you and your relationship.  We have done this for our kids and have enjoyed the time we get to spend with our grandchildren.
  • When they are old enough, let your kids know you need to have some private time with your partner. They will likely be happy to do that, if not right then, at a mutually agreed upon time. They like it when their parents are happy, too.
  • Carve out time to get some counseling as a couple and go out for coffee or dinner afterward.
  • This is a very common problem. Brainstorm with some of your friends from day-care or playgroup or work about what they do or how you can support each other.

Don’t wait too long to make your relationship a priority. We work with many couples who feel guilty that they are not there for their kids all the time and are angry they don’t have more couple time.

Sometimes they blame each other and there is definitely a better way.

We can help you deal with these challenges in your marriage so you can reconnect with your partner and be a great parent as well. Call us to set up a brief consultation or a session for you and your partner by calling 434-971-4701 or send us a confidential email to set a time to talk.

About Couple Power

Phyllis Koch-Sheras, PhD, and Peter Sheras, PhD, are clinical psychologists and a married couple for over forty years, who have written several books and articles about relationships and who see couples for weekly sessions, week-end intensives, and couples groups and workshops in Charlottesville, VA. They are co-founders of Couples Coaching Couples and do presentations and workshops around the country. You can find out more information about them on their website, www.CouplePower.com or reach them by calling the office at 434-971-4701.

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