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Making Time for Your Relationship

By Drs. Rick and Jan Hanson

With two kids and two jobs, Doug and I never seem to have any time to be together just the two of us. You're busier than ever, the days blur by, and then you look up and there's your husband, and you realize that it's been weeks, literally weeks, since you've done anything pleasant together. When we do get some time, it's great and there's a little glow in our relationship that lasts a couple days. We keep saying we have to do that more often. But it's really hard.

During periods of intense demands - such as the first months after birth, while an infant is colicky, or when either of you is sick or flat out exhausted - it's normal for a couple to have less time for each other. But over the long run, we have to keep investing in an intimate friendship if we want to continue to have one. You can't put a partner in the freezer for a few years and then pop him or her in the microwave and expect everything to be warm and tasty between you again.

Time together for conversation, doing fun things together, sweet moments, and affection is the foundation of a strong and enduring love. Here are some suggestions for busy parents:

Do tasks together
Understandably, parents often divide their tasks in order to conquer them. But when you're both cleaning up after dinner or bathing a child, it's easier and more fun. Additionally, look for chances to connect even while you're getting things done, like comfortably touching shoulders at the sink, shared glances of amusement at a child's play with a stuffed animal, rubbing a partner's foot as he or she reads a story, friendly conversation in the car while running errands, holding hands as you walk your child into daycare, and so on.

Create family fun
You can also do more family activities that are fun and connecting for mom and dad, not just the kids, such as roughhousing together, making music, playing hide and seek or board games, making cookies, or planting flowers.

Make time for pillow talk
Arranging to go to bed at the same time gives you more private moments for talking and snuggling, but that's hard for many parents. Yet the difference in bedtimes is usually small enough that it's easy to bridge with a gracious compromise. You could split the difference: if he's the night-owl, he might come to bed a half hour sooner while you stay up for half an hour. Or maybe he could get the kids going in the morning, giving you more time to sleep so you can go to bed later with him. Or he might come to bed with you, talk and cuddle for awhile, and then go back out to the living room.

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