We Time

by | Jul 11, 2013 | Blog, Jessica Chivers, Motherhood | 0 comments

we-time

I contributed to a story in a women’s magazine last month about the rise of women divorcing their husbands and getting together with younger men; I’ve listened to a friend talk about the current – and I’m sure temporary – distance between her and her husband (as is often the case in marriage at one time or another) and several coachees have talked about the all-consuming nature of their young children and what little room that leaves for their partner. A huge part of the answer to these situations is ‘we time.’ Time to be together with our partners to the exclusion of all others.

I know not all of my readers have children. With this in mind here are ideas to help couples both with and without children, increase the quality of their ‘we time.’

Tips for all

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  1. Prioritise getting home ‘on time’ several times a week – I think that says it all really. There’s nothing big, clever or status-enhancing about working late. In a book I read recently about what it’s like doing an MBA at Harvard the author talked about all the business leaders who came to speak, imploring this new cohort of soon-to-be Harvard alumni, not to go the same way.
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  2. Keep an eye on the time you spend together – How much time do you really get together, just the two of you? And how do you use it? Are you both home but not engaged with one another? In what ways could you change that and what would the benefits be?
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  3. Share media and culture – Read a book simultaneously (two copies or read aloud at bedtime), listen to the same podcast whilst commuting or forward each other interesting articles to discuss later that day. A shared talking point is a great way to bring minds together and remind you of your similar outlook and values. It’s also light on time commitment. My husband and I share a TV programme, Question Time, which we watch on iplayer to allow us to pause and discuss. We also both enjoy the BBC Radio 4 podcasts The Moral Maze, Analysis and More or Less.
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  4. Revel in doing the mundane, together – Come together over the kitchen clean-up, the weeding or making the beds. Frequency of contact is good for most relationships; it’s the small moments of connection that allow threads of conversation to develop and minds to meet.
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  5. Commit to a shared activity or try something new – What common loves or interests do you have or could you find? How can you bring this to the fore on a regular basis to remind you that, despite all the leisure pursuits that you don’t overlap on, you’re learning or developing something together?

 

For parents
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  1. Be direct with family – If you have family close by who can potentially pitch in with childcare, explain directly and honestly that you love your partner, you’re not getting enough time together and is there a way they could support you in having regular we-time? It’s appalling that so many of us feel we can’t ask for childcare support to nourish our marriage, and instead, we wait for things to be strained and about to break before we take action. As an aside, I said to a client last week, I now think nothing of having a regular massage as part of my wellbeing strategy rather than saving them until I’m so depleted a blood transfusion feels in order (note: I do not consider this ‘me time’ – this is essential health maintenance).
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  2. Help another couple  – No family nearby? Find a couple who’s in the same boat and shape-up a calendar of swapsies. They’re likely to be in dire need too and if you’re a forthright sort of a woman you may be doing the other couple a massive favour by starting the ball rolling on something they’ve been wondering for months or years too.
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  3. Work out together – Many gyms have crèches that are open at weekends and will look after children for up to two hours. That’s 60 minutes exercise plus 60 minutes discussing the papers or chatting merrily in the café afterwards (and sod the shower; you can do that at home with the children around).
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  4. Prioritise your partner after work – After a day at work, before gushing over the children, gush over your partner and encourage him or her to do the same with you. This sends a massive signal to your kids that your relationship is special and important – and that they’re not the centre of the universe. I think I picked this up from Steve Bidulph’s great book ‘Raising Boys’ many years ago. It only needs to be two minutes, but it’s a very important two minutes. Follow him/her upstairs and chat whilst he/she gets changed – this could lead to additional unforeseen moments of intimacy especially if the children are lost in play downstairs. (Although I can’t seem to wangle this very often).
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  5. Have adult conversation at family meals – Aside from the known benefits of families eating and conversing together (broader diet, less fussy eating, turn-taking and knowledge about the world) if you share an earlier meal (rather than waiting until they are in bed) there’s more time to do something together once the children are in bed. A drop in blood sugar levels gives most of us the grumps and that’s what happens when we don’t eat until late. Devoting a portion of the meal exclusively to adult conversation again sends a signal to your partner that he/she is important and you pick up on what’s on their minds with a view to delving deeper, later.
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  6. Have a day off  – What’s more wonderful at this time of year, and  before the schools break up, than having time together at home, hanging out without the children around? No need for a day out, just being at home and pottering together can be magic. We’ve had a spell of that today.

SWISHER_Mothers Work Book

There’s much more on teamwork and thriving as working parents in chapters three and eight of Mothers Work! (Hay House, £10.99). It’s also available in Italian as S.O.S. Mama (LOG, 2012) which as a participant at a recent event remarked to me – ‘that just about sums up my life at the moment!’

 

What are you taking away from this post?

‘We time’ may be more critical to your life than ‘me time’ right now and there are many ways to increase the quality of the time spent with your partner. The very act of trying to change your ‘we time’ experience sends a strong signal to him or her that you care. And that’s a brilliant starter for ten.