I decided a few months ago that even though I’ve been ultra busy— that it was time to get a puppy.
Clearly, choosing now to housebreak a puppy— with the work that comes with doing that properly was the calm, centered, rational choice.
Now I realize that some of you have kids (maybe more than a few), jobs and businesses of your own. Sometimes it seems like there’s just not enough hours in the day for the responsibilities you do have, let alone optimizing anything.
Unfortunately, that mentality is how we get ourselves into trouble in our relationships in the first place. Our once good relationship becomes an afterthought and one day we find ourselves coping with a breakup or a divorce. We simply don’t get ourselves into relationships and think about optimizing things between us. Or we think about it when one of us has already “had it” and is ready to throw in the towel.
What if instead, you could do preventative maintenance?
Here’s a few things to try to keep things running happily between the two of you:
1. Pick up where the other person left off.
When the other person has lost the time or energy to complete something, see if you can help in some way. If there’s something that the other person really loves having clean or ready for them, try to help if you can.
This sounds obvious, but it takes a little thought and observation to find out what your partner really wants versus what you think they want. Sometimes what would really make a difference for them isn’t what you’re doing. As human beings, we tend to think in terms of what we really like and think that carries over to someone else. That leads us to try really hard meeting needs they don’t actually have and we do everything EXCEPT what would make a huge difference to the other person. Ask them what they really want and do that. Let the other stuff fall by the wayside. That leads me to my next point.
2. Let unimportant things slide.
Look, it would be super cool if we could all have our houses perfectly in order like Better Homes and Gardens photo spreads. But that gets pretty lonely if you don’t have someone to share it with.
Want a perfect house or a great relationship?
Either delegate to professionals if you have the money, or tolerate a higher level of disorder. The way the dishwasher is loaded means NOTHING in the grand scheme of things. Let go of what doesn’t matter— in favor of time together. Same goes for looking at random stuff on the internet or mindlessly channel surfing.
3. Leave notes.
A simple little note that says “I love you” scrawled on a piece of scratch paper can be a bigger deal than you think. It’s not the effort, it’s the thought. Write on the bathroom mirror. Something more concrete than the standard text message.
4. When you DO have free time, make sure that the other person is your priority.
As an introvert, after working an 18 hour day, I know how tempting it can be to brush off the other person in favor of sitting alone in a dark room (oh wait… is that just me?). Sometimes your partner will want the same thing— a little bit of time to regroup. Maybe they’re dying for a little social time if you’re with an extrovert.
Try to find out what makes them happiest during your precious little down time. If the two of you have very different needs, negotiate a trade off. The most important thing is to make the relationship your priority even though you’re tired.
5. Cultivate little rituals and guard them.
Maybe every Sunday morning you have coffee together. Don’t forgo these little things in favor of more work, chores or anything else. Keep your togetherness rituals. No matter how small, time you use to connect is precious and should be treated that way.
6. Honor your own needs.
When we’re ultra busy, it’s so super easy to let the things you’re interested in fall by the wayside. The problem is that the things we let slide first like our hobbies, goals, meditation practice, workouts, etc. are often what keep us the most well adjusted and happy. Try your hardest to spend 15 minutes a day doing something that centers you. Some days you’ll skip, but try to fill yourself up so that you have more energy to give to your busy life and your partner.
7. Support their dream.
Maybe your partner is super busy, but you aren’t. It can feel like they’re neglecting you— and after awhile this can start to seem intentional. If you take this out on them, it just increases their stress levels. If they genuinely weren’t avoiding you before, they’re likely to start, since they simply don’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with more.
That’s why if one or both of you are chasing a dream— you’ve got to understand what you’re in for and do your best to be supportive. If you’ve chosen to date or marry someone with a high powered career— their career is probably going to compete with you for number one for at least the foreseeable future. This is the reality.
Now, with the precious time you have left, you can either cherish them or complain. I know which one I’d appreciate more when I’m busy.