Jan 23, 2011

Being Married & Finding Time

It's accounting season -- and it has been -- around these parts, which means that Tuvia is working 12-14 hour days, coming home late at night and diving straight into bed. I've had the past month (and then some) off from school, and working part-time has actually been a little less than part-time, meaning I've had a lot of time to frequent coffee shops and futz around at home not really doing anything in particular. I have been sick, which takes up a lot of unnecessary energy, but overall, I've sort of been twiddling my thumbs.

Tomorrow I start my second semester at NYU with some fun classes on Israel in the 1960s, Jewish education, teaching a second language to college students and adults, and a Hebrew course that's really geared toward undergrads (homework and tests are more my speed). That will put me in NYC four days a week, one of those until 9 something at night. Tack on the part-time work, the commute, and, well, I won't be home much.

So here's what I'm wondering: Tuvia and I have been married nearly eight months and it seems like after those first few months our time has become monopolized by work and life and everything else, so how do you keep connected to your significant other? Do you set time aside to do things? Do you plan grocery trips? Do you set date nights? How do you maintain your sanity and that connectivity? There's always Shabbat, but it seems like by the time we get to Friday, our interests are sleeping, eating, and sleeping some more.

That first year is killer, we all know that. Chuck your wisdom at me, married couples!


Melissa S-G said...

we make it a point to do something together on shabbat. even if its just reading together on the couch or walking to-from shul together. its just a small moment of guaranteed connectedness.
we also send each other silly text messages during the day. that doesn't interrupt the flow of whatever we are doing, but still keeps us in each other's minds.

Jew in the City said...

Oy, Chaviva, just wait till you have kids!

But seriously - yes, set up regular date nights.

Send him random emails, texts, tweets, or even real notes (in his bag) that you love him.

Be patient and know that marriage has ups and downs, busy times and slow times.

And savor the next time you guys have a chunk of time to spend together, before it gets busy again!

PamBG said...

I have no advice on the planning aspects.

My most important piece of advice (18 years and still very happily married) is this:

Once you have planned a time with your husband, do not, under any circumstances, let other people talk you out of it.

Many people will regard your date with your husband as being "only" with your husband. Some people may be genuinely offended if you stick to your guns. The worst are employers who may view this time as time that they can legitimately claim and your commitment to being with your husband as a sign of "lack of commitment to the job". Resist at all costs.

If necessary, have a phrase prepared to answer. I don't like lying, so I want to have a sentence ready in my mind like: "I have a very important appointment that I'm not prepared to break". If you say that assertively, 99% of the time no one will question what the appointment is.

My 2 cents, for what they are worth.

Nora said...

Plan date nights. A and I finally did that after working opposite shifts for months and never seeing each other. It didn't necessarily happen every week but we made time regularly for it. Even if it was just snugging on the couch and catching up on Bones and Big Bang Theory. Don't let them slide too much or you'll find yourself back in the same spot, though. That and remember why you married him in the first place. You're happy together, he makes you laugh and you love each other.

When people say the first year is the hardest they aren't kidding. Just keep reminding yourself that it's a huge adjustment for both of you and to keep talking (as long as neither of you is angry) so that eventually stuff makes sense on both sides of the fence.


Christi said...

Keeping it short and sweet (to make up for my long fb message!) - It's not "finding time," it's "making time." Life can so easily get in the way of our marriage relationship. Unlike in our dating relationship, we seem to be more willing to let it after we're married. Almost as if the commitment and intimacy of marriage has let us off the hook a little. But, I strongly encourage this idea - just because you're now married to each other, it does not mean that you stop dating each other! Carry that dedication on in your marriage. It won't always be easy, but *making* that same time together (interacting, doing something as a couple, not just doing your own thing in the same space) is so important!

Remember, you're not alone! We all experience this to some extent in our marriages.

Anonymous said...

Me and my BH have a 'love note' on a much folded piece of paper that we have hidden in various parts of our home for the other to find. It has survived several home moves! Sometimes it can take only a day to find, other times several weeks. But because it is unexpected, it always brings a smile to the face of the finder at the most random times. Last week I was burrowing in a chest of drawers and found it for the first time since 2010!

We have Sunday mornings as our time. Always.

Good luck!

Elle said...

HMMM... well all I can say is that if you plan on having kids, then consider THIS a vacation! :) B/c managing time to spend together is divided not just by outside commitments but also between kids who want your attention :)

That said, Yes as it all things relationship, YOU BOTH must be the ones to maintain the closeness. Closeness and intimacy never happen by accident, it is always a matter of personal choice. choosing again and again, even in busy seasons, to make time for one another. There is no such thing as "falling out of love" but there is a such things and not purposing to maintain that closeness and therefor losing that certain things that drew you together to begin with.

be proactive, because nobody is going to make you close except you.

Batya said...

You did have that vacation in Israel. Or have you forgotten. My father was a CPA and tax season went on forever, but then things quieted down. There are cycles, times when you have more time and time when you do less together. My family didn't have Shabbat, so the only fun thing about tax season was when two of my older cousins visited when they worked for my father.
Make a special Shabbat that you call a "date." It'll soon be Pesach. Do something special, just you guys.

Jessica E. said...

When John and I were first married we actually did do all of our grocery shopping together. I'd say one of the biggest things for us that worked great was to take a vacation. A month before our first anniversary we went and spent a little over a week at Disney World, just the two of us. We pretty much cut ourselves off from the rest of the world and enjoyed our time together at a place we both love. We had so much fun, and really reconnected. They have some awesome shows there, along with fantastic dining (which we took advantage of). I know taking a nice vacation is a big thing, but I would highly recommend it.

Mara said...

On the one hand, I agree with all the "wait 'til you have kids" comments. On the other hand, I know how totally unhelpful that is. If someone had told me how "easy" it is to "just" have one baby when I just had one baby, I would have wanted to punch them in the nose. Now when I take only one kid to the store, it's such a pleasure. But you can't feel that until you're feeling that, yk?

All that said, we make Friday night "our" family's night. We almost never accept invitations out and we almost never invite people to our home. It's just us and the kids, and when they go to bed, it's just the two of us. No matter how crazy the rest of the week has been, we have those few hours to really reconnect. We also appreciate the little things - like the chat about our days while we're cleaning up the dishes at the end of the day. It doesn't always have to be monumental. (Perhaps there is some letdown factor, too, from the "thrill" of dating - when every interaction probably seemed BIG and IMPORTANT.)

Anonymous said...

Here is what I have learned in my life as an *almost* married woman and as a psychoanalyst -- it takes *two* willing parties to make this happen.

When I counsel couples who have lost the spark, I ask them how much time they're spending together -- inevitably I get "everyday!" -- what do you do together everyday "dinner! every night!" (less than that for others) -- of course then I find out that dinner is 15 minutes long, in front of the TV before passing out exhausted.

To echo what others have said, you both must make time for each other, and make the time "quality".

If long work days are insurmountable, then your homework assignment is two activities per weekend with only each other -- but this does not include watching random tv shows. It could be a movie outside the house, but only if you go for coffee or nosh afterward to discuss it. I also give one specific activity for couples who are having trouble connecting in general...mutual massages -- 20 minutes each person *and* very important -- no matter how turned on you both might get it is not supposed to lead to sex....it is about doing something to make the other person feel good and connecting on an intimate level, listening to the other person, finding out what makes them feel good.

What is most important for all people is to feel that someone is "holding you" in their mind -- men seem to have a harder time in general with this -- whereas a woman can be at work in the middle of the day and be reminded of her partner, or grocery shopping and see a food he would like and buy it, men tend to compartmentalize when they are at work or separated so they forget to send you the messages (literally and figuratively) that you have been on their minds -- this can make one feel like an afterthought and unappreciated.

Both spouses need to be mindful of what they communicate with their words and actions (or inactions) and work to include the other.

Hang in there....it gets easier.

Mark said...

Not to bring you down or anything, but once you have kids, you will have even less "together" time than now. So savor the time you have together now as you won't have much time like that until the kids leave the house.

And, yes, a date night periodically is a good thing. You could have Tuvia meet you in the city after classes every few weeks - just take a walk, do window shopping, have a fancy dinner, ice skate, whatever. And sometimes meet him right after work and do something local, just on the spur of the moment, or just stay home and turn off anything that requires electricity and diverts your attention from each other.

Chaviva Gordon-Bennett said...

Thank you ALL for the great (and sort of fatalistic at times) comments. Maybe I'll never have kids?

It's funny. I've always been a very solitary creature, but some recent stuff has made me more concerned with spending time with my chatan, which was the motivation for this post. I don't buy into codependency, it's unhealthy, but time is important and both parties have to invest in it. That being said, I think it's harder to get men to commit to time than women. Why is that? (At least in my experience.)

@Batya Yes, we were just in Israel. But a vacation doesn't compensate for months of no time for one another, unfortunately. Maybe it does for some, but not for this kallah.

@KosherCritter YOU ARE AMAZING.

Karen Zampa Katz said...

Ditto to all the wonderful folks who have commented...

I am older, post kids and for both of us a second marriage...we both know personally, and from all our friends not so good ways and better ways to privilege what is important.

My husband and family are truly the most important things in my life....our kids, all adults, are in good points in their lives so we do concentrate on us.

We have career and financial pressures...ethical pressures...hubby is a MD... psychiatrist and I'm a social worker patients, emergencies etc can take up a lot of space... but I used to work in a hospital with oncology and HIV patients...it is said a lot but it is true...no one ever said to me they wish they had finished that report!

when you work as an employee for others, it is hard your time often is not under your control. I don't know if that is your husband's situation or not...but tax season will come and go hopefully 100 times in your marriage!...

but finding ways to help each other and stay connected is the most important thing...with kids or without!

Yes do date night...maybe that is sitting on the bed reading to each other...if all are tired...

we have a hard and fast rule...nothing interferes with Tuesday night!...no classes...no patients no shul meetings etc...sometimes we just hang out...but we do everything together on Tuesdays!

grocery shopping can be fun with the one you love!...
I guess you get the picture...love each other...be there for each other and all the other stuff gets done...or perhaps its not worth doing....


Bells said...

+100000000 on what KosherCritter said. Oh, and then +1000000000000 more. (KosherCritter, do you conduct psychoanalysis over Skype? Tell me that you do...)

Anonymous said...

It is tough, lady! I used to be a solitary, overly independent person and it has taken my beloved years of patient watching and waiting to let me realise it's OK to every now and again, let the walls down and depend, rather than be independent!

I'm glad you are getting there sooner than I did.

And it is so worth working on.


Anonymous said...

@bells....I actually do therapy over Skype and phone sessions too!

Beth said...

With our opposite schedules, Steve and I have to make time for each other. If we have a day off together, we are usually each other's priority. We run errands, go to the gym, and hang out together. We also try to do a lunch date every few weeks or so, since that works better than dinner dates. I think the marriage has to be a priority, otherwise what's the point?

Rivki Silver said...

Oh, do I feel you on this one. For the bulk of our married life (three whole years), my husband has been in residency (read: 80 hours a week), AND we have two kids.

I send him notes with his lunch. Send him a nice voicemail or email now and again. And we try for a date night once a month. Even just a movie on the couch, you know, to spend some time together. And in the winter we learn a little together on Friday night.

Good luck!

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