Many times couples come in and tell me that this hour with the couple’s counselor is the closet they get to couple time and spending time together, and a date. To me, it sums up why they are here in the first place. Granted, I respect everyone who comes to my office to seek guidance and third unbiased perspectives. I am more than willing to assess and suggest ways in which couples can find the connection that they feel they need in order to keep the relationship healthy and long-lasting. Couple time is very important to families, and so many families find it difficult to juggle the needs of their children and their own. It’s very often that the children’s needs come first, both scheduling and financing. However, in the long run, the children will not always need you as much and will eventually move away. When that happens, a couple who have not taken the time for themselves as a couple with date nights and romance will find themselves staring at each other from the other side of the couch. This is the prediction for Gottman ( 16 years of marriage can end in divorce once the children are independent and heading off to college.)
So, what do you do to maintain the romance and connections with your spouse during these hectic years? For one, hire a babysitter and come to counseling for an hour. We can talk about it, and once we are in a space that the two of you have aired your feelings or grievances, I will then suggest a night without me.
There are so many inexpensive ways to spending time together. A pet peeve of mine is going to a restaurant when you really want to talk and spend time with your partner and the waiter keeps checking on you and asking if everything is “alright”. This is so annoying and a distraction to the flow that needs to be while two people are trying to have an intimate conversation. So I won’t suggest going out to eat, but I will suggest a walk in the park, along the boardwalk, through the village, or a train ride to a new destination. I have suggested, playing a sport, like tennis, bike riding, hiking, basketball. But if that’s off your radar of enjoyment then something more intellectually stimulating would be going to a lecture or a quality film that can be discussed. What I love to offer couples is to Google “365 Thought Provoking Questions”. Choose a few and exchange ideas, one important factor is what you might have thought your partner would say or think might surprise you. It’s something you can do at home, away from the kids and really build the intimacy by getting to know your partner in a deeper meaningful way.
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