Spending time with your spouse matters. But how you spend that time together — with and without an agenda — matters even more.
Couples who spend time together flourish as long as they are both getting what they need.
Some couples simply go, go, go. They work hard at raising kids. They work hard to make a living. They may have an agenda to do, do, do. But are they taking care of themselves? Do they really ask and seek to understand what their spouse wants and needs?
It’s not uncommon for couples to find themselves in one of two situations:
- Each partner has their own separate agenda. The couple doesn’t do many things together, and over time, they drift apart.
- One partner suppresses their own needs and simply goes along with what the other one wants for fear of rocking the boat.
A third option — and the best scenario for a healthy relationship — is to talk openly with your partner about what each of you wants and needs. Then, choose something each other wants to do, and make that a priority.
Making this happen often involves more than just scheduling time for these activities. There’s a good chance you’ll also need to put your financial priorities in place to meet each other’s needs.
That’s because financial stress in a relationship can affect all other aspects of the relationship. If one partner is just trying to make ends meet and ensure all the bills get paid, it can be very difficult for them to focus on anything else, not to mention meet their spouse’s needs.
An astonishing 64% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. And too many couples are deep in debt, unable to prioritize one another’s needs amid the mounting bills.
This is why communicating and creating a shared vision for your life together is so important. You each need to feel safe about sharing what you want and need, especially if that involves a financial safety net.
My husband, Eric, for example, finds it much easier to be creative and plan for events when we have an emergency fund in place and have saved for those specific occasions. By contrast, my family didn’t teach me how to become a solid financial planner as an adult. I’ve had to learn that alongside Eric and recognize how much he needs to prioritize our financial health in order for everything else to tick.
The Gottmans talk about creating shared meaning, understanding each other’s inner and outer worlds (building love maps), and knowing one another’s heart. To support your spouse’s dreams and enable them to come true, you have to participate in those dreams and work toward them together.
So if you feel like you and your partner might be stuck in a cycle of go, go, go without much thought to how you spend your time together, sit down and dream together. Learn one another’s needs. Strive toward them as a team. Get your finances in order if you need to, and then get to work enjoying one another’s company and the mutual pursuit of one another’s dreams.