Here are some questions to help you determine the importance of your relationship compared to other aspects of your life.
When you become aware of exactly how you spend your time, you might discover that your priorities are different than you thought they were. It is quite common that people spend little time with those things they say matter most to them, and more time on those things they say don’t matter to them.
The most important thing in this exercise is that you and your partner become aware of each other’s priorities with regard to relationship. Are you and your partner in agreement about how important your relationship is? Are you in agreement about how important it should be? Does how you spend your time accurately reflect what you say your priorities are? Do you feel that putting primary focus on your relationship is just being selfish?
There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week.
- How many hours are taken for work, including travel to and from work, and work that you bring home?
If your work is at home, whether it be caring for family and maintaining the household, or a home-based business, how many hours per day does this take?
- How many hours do you sleep?
- How many hours do you spend preparing and eating food?
- How many hours do you spend on personal care – bathing, dressing, exercising, etc.?
- How many hours do you spend maintaining the household – laundry, washing the car, general tidying, working in the garden, making repairs, and shopping for all the “stuff” you need?
- How many hours do you spend on personal activity – reading, watching TV, sitting watching the moonlight, meditation or other spiritual practice, hobbies, sports, taking courses, an avocation – music, painting, amateur athletics, woodworking, etc.?
- If you have children how many hours do you spend with them – playing, taking them to activities, and helping with homework?
- How many hours do you spend on community activities – volunteering, church/religious organizations, political and social causes?
- How much time do you spend with friends or family in social activities, either on your own or with your mate?
- How many hours do you spend on your relationship with your mate? We mean time that is actively spent building your intimate connection, where the focus is totally on each other and increasing your love, such as romantic dining, making love, reading each other poetry, dancing, massage, heartfelt talk. Exclude from this list activities that you may do together but during which you are essentially focused on yourself or people and things other than your mate, e.g., watching TV or movies together, attending the kids’ school play, going to a dinner-dance, volunteering for the same service club, talking about family issues, finances and vacation plans, doing the yard work, having a party with friends.
List and total all your hours. What does this tell you about how you’re spending your time and what your priorities are? How much time are you devoting to your relationship? We recommend that a half hour every day be devoted to connecting intimately with your partner, and every week a minimum four-hour block of time be set aside for just the two of you, with no external distractions.
SORTING OUT YOUR PRIORITIES
- Now that you’ve added up all the hours you spend on work, are you okay with this? Is your spouse in agreement? If not is there time you can borrow from work to spend on your relationship?
- How often do you cancel or postpone time you were to have with your partner because something’s come up at work?
- Have you ever had a conflict between something scheduled for work and something scheduled with your lover when you said NO to your work and YES to your lover?
- If you were offered relocation for your work would you consider the impact this would have on your relationship as part of your decision? Does you partner have a say in this decision? Is it really an option to say no to the move?
- Are you coming home from work so stressed out that you’re lashing out at your partner?
- Are you coming home from work so tired and frazzled that you just want to be alone with the TV?
- Considering all your answers, including time devoted to work, is your work more important than your relationship? Are you and your partner in agreement that this is how it should be?
- Are you regularly using the time you spend with your children as a reason why you don’t have time for each other?
- Do you often find yourself under so much stress from your kids that you lash out at your partner?
- Do you often find yourself so exhausted from kids that you don’t have time or energy for your partner?
- Considering all your answers, including time devoted to children, are your children more important than your relationship? Are you and your partner in agreement that this is how it should be?
- Do you have a cause that you regularly give time to (volunteer work, political activism, and so on)?
- Is the amount of time you spend on this cause okay with you? Is it okay with your partner?
- Do you ever find yourself under so much stress from your commitment to the cause that you lash out at your partner?
- Do you often find yourself so exhausted from your commitment to the cause that you don’t have time or energy for your partner?
- Considering all your answers, including time actually devoted to your cause, is this cause more important than your relationship? Are you and your partner in agreement that this is how it should be?
- Is the amount of time you spend on social activities, alone or together, a source of tension or disagreement in your relationship?
- Do you always say yes to your friends’ needs or social invitations? Do you sometimes say no because you want time for your partner?
- Considering all your answers, including time devoted to friends and social activities, are they more important than your relationship? Are you and your partner in agreement that this is how it should be?
- Note: an avocation is something you love to do and spend a lot of time doing, but you don’t get paid for doing it, i.e., it is not your paid employment. You might think of it as a hobby that starts to take over your life.
- Is there some activity that you love so much to do that you give a lot of your time to it?
- Does your partner feel neglected or resentful because you spend large amounts of time doing something you love to do?
- Do you often find yourself so tired out by this activity (or so preoccupied – even when you’re not doing it) that you don’t have time or energy for your partner?
- Considering all your answers, including time devoted to your avocation, is it more important than your relationship? Are you and your partner in agreement that this is how it should be?
If after doing these exercises the reality is that your relationship is a low priority, or lower than you thought it was or said it was, then you are presented with a choice point. Your options are to change how you spend your time, finding more time for each other, or do nothing and just keep things as they are. Al Link and Pala Copeland