By Michele Weiner-Davis of Divorce Busting
the publication of my book, "Divorce Busting", I have been regularly
interviewed by reporters about what makes marriages work. They ask, ďMichele,
why do you think so many marriages are ending in divorce? What is at the
root of all of this?Ē Although the writers expect a complicated psychological
response, to me, itís very simple.
convinced that the single biggest contributor to the breakdown in relationships
today is the fact that couples arenít spending enough time together. They
arenít making their relationships a number one priority. The relationship
gets put on the back burner. Everything else seems more important - careers,
children, hobbies, community involvement, and personal pursuits. And when
relationships arenít attended to as they should be, trouble sets in.
who donít prioritize their relationships tell me that they often end up
fighting during the little time they do have together. They argue about
day to day issues; unpaid bills, uncleaned houses, unruly children. And
itís no wonder. Itís difficult to do what needs to be done to keep life
moving in a productive direction, let alone try to coordinate your efforts
with your partnerís when youíre under a time crunch. But the truth is,
arguing about ďwhoís doing what around the house,Ē is really just a symptom
of the deeper problem - isolation, loneliness and resentment. You argue
about the mundane issues when your emotional needs arenít being met. The
coke can left in the living room becomes a symbol of a lack of caring for
hereís the Catch-22. If you and your partner are arguing a lot, you donít
feel like spending time together. In fact, you want to spend as little
time as possible with him or her. Unfortunately, avoidance only makes matters
worse. More distance, more tension, less cooperation, more conflict, and
couples who donít prioritize their relationships donít argue when theyíre
together. They simply have little to do with each other. They resign themselves
to the distance and experience bouts of resentment from time to time. Leading
parallel but separate lives, they start to fall out of love with each other
or become strangers. ďI just donít love him anymore,Ē she says. Or, ďWeíve
just grown apart,Ē says he. Distance in relationships is loveís silent
thereís good news in all of this. Time together can be the great healer.
Even if itís awkward at first, when two people commit to investing energy
and time to their love life, only good things can come from it. When people
put their relationships first, they feel appreciated and important. They
feel loved. Spending time with your partner tells him or her in no uncertain
terms, ďYou matter to me.Ē Time together gives people opportunities to
collect new memories, do activities they enjoy, to laugh at each otherís
jokes, to renew their love.
more good news. You donít have to spend enormous amounts of time together
to breed closeness and connection. Regular, brief get-togethers work too.
Sometimes people think that nothing short of a total revamping of their
lives would be necessary to find time together. But it simply isnít so.
Small changes in your schedule can make a huge difference. And, whatever
you do, donít leave ďrendezvousingĒ up to chance. You need to plan and
schedule dates together. Write these dates in your daytimer the same way
you would a business appointment. Relationships are a serious business.
more doís and doníts:
always keep in mind that thereís little thatís more important in life than
loving people and having them love you back. Give the gift of your time.
It will be well worth your while.
you have kids, do leave them at home. You and your partner need time alone.
The best thing you can do for your kids is make your marriage work.
waste time trying to figure out whose fault it is that you havenít been
spending time together. It really doesnít matter.
let angry feelings get in the way of making plans with your partner. Research
shows that the fastest way to change how you feel is by taking action.
Doing something enjoyable together will make you and your partner feel
more loving. As a result, you may even be able to resolve heated topics
more easily in the future.
think you have to go to a tropical island to make time together meaningful.
You donít have to spend a lot of money to show your love for your partner.
Go for a walk around the block. Read a novel together. Set aside ten minutes
each day to talk. Ride a bike. Be creative.